There is nothing green about lacquer. Lacquers and most finishes have a lot of VOC's.
There is so much that a respirator is required. Short term effects of not wearing a respirator are dizziness, upset stomach and a bad headache. With prolonged exposure there could be permanent harm to the nervous system.
Catalyzed wood finishes have a lot to offer. Some pluses are a tough chemical resistant finish and a look that is hard to duplicate with another system. In a world that is finally starting to think green, catalytic lacquer might be on its way out.
There are some good replacements on the market. Some include plant derived ingredients and some are still from petrochemicals.
All Natural Wood Finishes
Old time ingredients combined with modern technology has produced some very good wood finishes. These are derived from plant oils and can have very low VOC levels and some are even zero VOC. Other types of finishes are Tung Oil, either pure or mixed with other finishes, linseed oil derivatives, soybean oil and bees wax.
A down side to these finishes is difficulty in there application plus some extra labor is needed. This will increase the cost of finishing a homes interior wood surfaces. Another problem is availability. You won't find this stuff at Home Depot or Ace Hardware.
Low VOC Wood Finishes Derived From Petrochemicals
Actually, there are many on the market. These range from acrylic urethane to water based polyurethane. Both are good alternatives to high VOC wood finishes.
The plus side of these finishes is relatively easy application and quick drying. This translates into lower finishing costs when compared to the natural finishes and a quicker turn around time.