Formaldehyde Gas Outgassing Hazards In Laminate Flooring
Formaldehyde test methods, sources of test error, remedies for outgassing materials
FORMALDEHYDE in LAMINATE FLOORING - CONTENTS: is there a hazard from formaldehyde outgassing from Chinese-made laminate flooring? How should we test for formaldehyde gas exposure levels indoors; if high levels of formaldehyde are found, have we properly identified the source? What are the remedies for indoor formaldehyde?
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Formaldehyde gas exposure hazards from laminate flooring products:
This article discusses worries that unsafe formaldehyde gas exposure can occur in some buildings where Chinese-made laminate flooring products are installed. This concern was stimulated in 2015 by a U.S. television 60-Minutes broadcast that reported high levels of indoor formaldehyde gas in such homes where flooring sold by Lumber Liquidator was installed.
Here we describe the challenge of performing an accurate, representative test for any indoor contaminant, we describe methods of testing for formaldehyde gas indoors, and we discuss possible steps to remove formaldehyde gas and formaldehyde gas emitting laminated floor or other outgassing products in order to improve indoor air quality in homes.
How to deal with suspected formaldehyde outgassing from Lumber Liquidators or A&W Chinese Laminate Flooring
Reader Question: how do we test & what's the best way to get rid of formaldehyde outgassing from a Lumber Liquidators Laminate Flooring Job
7 March 2015 Californian said:
We just purchased a house with Lumber Liquidator flooring that was found by 60 minutes to contain formaldehyde level many times higher than the legal limit in the U.S. However, our installation is more than 2 years old. Do you think the outgas process of our floor is mostly done?
We thought about replacing the flooring but the current floor was installed on top of a plywood subfloor. Now, what if the formaldehyde has transferred into the subfloor so if we re-install any kind of porous flooring (like carpet) then it would only allow the formaldehyde to rise through the new flooring into our living space? Is this a realistic possibility?
What can we do to test the level of formaldehyde in the indoor air? And what's the best way to get rid of it?
Reply: A little summary of the big formaldehyde offgassing cloud
Thanks for the interesting question, Californian.
Media attention to Chinese laminate flooring off-gassing of formaldehyde has been considerable. Some Chinese-manufactured laminate flooring produces high levels of formaldehyde off-gassing because of the fast hot-process used those laminate flooring fabricators. I suspect the faster process is part of the more lower fabrication cost and thus attractive price of some flooring. We first discussed this question at FLOOR, WOOD ENGINEERED, LAMINATE, INSTALL.
On 30 April 2015 the New York Times reported that
Lumber Liquidators reported a net loss in the first quarter as the company continued to dispute accusations taht its Chinese-made laminate flooring contained dangerous levels of formaldehyde. ... The retailer also disclosed that the Justice Department was seeking criminal charges against the company under the Lacey Act, an environmental conservation provision that prohibits the sale of wildlife or plants taken illegally.
The company previously said that the department was considering such charges in connection to illegally harvested wood products. ... Robert M. Lynch, the company's president said that the company was not increasing its purchases of laminate flooring from China and that it had been decreasing its sourcing from China even before the accusations surfaced. - Abrams, Rachel, "A Quarterly Loss at Lumber Liquidators After Consumer Flooring Complaints", The New York Times, 30 April 2015 p. B2.
An important if not the principal source of elevated formaldehyde in many buildings is medium density fiberboard (MDF) that is a central ingredient in laminate flooring products.
While the formaldehyde offgassing among laminate flooring products varies considerably for a number of reasons, the core material in the laminate flooring from China that received considerable media attention in 2015 is MDF. Formaldehyde emission rate tests conducted in 2014-2015, show that most of the laminate flooring manufactured in China has core MDF that substantially exceeds the CARB Airborne Toxic Control Measures (ATCM) guidelines.
Really? By early November 2015 it was clear that despite the company's continued suffering under a cloud of formaldehyde, Lumber Liquidators was not the only flooring vendor who had distributed laminate flooring products some of which might be out-gassing undesirable levels of formaldehyde.
The New York Times, in an update on formaldehyde and laminate floors, reported that other companies involved in manufacture and sale of formaldehyde off-gassing laminate flooring included Ark Floors, a California flooring importer of Chinese products who sold the flooring throughout the U.S., A&W Woods, also known as Anxin, the Chinese supplier to ARK and a company singularly unforthcoming to the Times reporter, Wayfair, an online flooring retailer, Walmart, and Home Depot stores (in the U.S. and Canada). Just how much Chinese-made flooring was sold through these various retailers and how much of that has unacceptable formaldehyde emissions and when such sales stopped (if they have) are data obscured in the formaldehyde cloud.
"Test results from five types of Ark laminate show levels of formaldehyde "well above" the emission standards set by the California Air Resources Board, according to ... HPVA Laboratories... the lab that had done testing on Lumber Liquidator's products.... Wayfair... sold Ark's laminate products as recently as Oct. 1 " - Abrams, Rachel, "Importer Selling Laminate Flooring From China Faces Formaldehyde Claims", The New York Times, 10 November 2015, p. B3.
Where is the US EPA Formaldehyde Off-gassing Standard?
The TCSA Section 21 citizens' petition regarding formaldehyde off-gassing was received by the U.S. EPA in March of 2008. More than seven years later, in November 2015, and five years after the 2010 law calling for a standard, there was yet no national U.S. standard for formaldehyde out-gassing. What delayed the U.S. EPA's adoption of a standard modeled on California's CARB guidance?
OPINION: A combination of industry pressure and confusion. Certainly there has been confusion among reporters, consumers, even some IAQ professionals and hygienists that could in part be blamed on lack of clear reporting of just how formaldehyde off-gassing tests were performed, making claims of high or low formaldehyde release difficult to compare or even understand.
Flooring products that look identical may vary considerably in their offgassing rate and duration. Tests of some laminate flooring products sold by Home Depot and Loews found no violations of the CARB standard, but Abrams, reporting in the Times noted that it was unclear which flooring mills had produced those samples. Only by consistent and well-defined testing is it possible to draw conclusions about the actual formaldehyde release from specific laminate flooring products made in China or elsewhere.
What about sales of the same laminate-flooring inside China? The Times October 2015 article noted that
"In 2012, some of A&W's products were pulled from Chinese store shelves because of concern over formaldehyde, according to an article from Xinhua, China's official news agency". - Abrams, Op. Cit.
The current status of the U.S. EPA facts, advice, and proposed emission standards for composite wood products, a response to the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act passed by the U.S. congress and signed into law in 2010 can be found at the U.S. EPA Formaldehyde website - http://www2.epa.gov/formaldehyde
Variables Determining Formaldehyde-Containing Building Product Off-gassing Rates
Formaldehyde is a rather volatile gas and it has certainly been detected at high levels in some buildings. And high levels of formaldehyde may be detected after installation of a variety of building products including some carpets or carpet padding, cabinets, counters, particle-board shelving, particle-board subflooring, and possibly laminate flooring products. Usually the outgassing from those products is rapid and the highest levels of outgassing occurs in weeks to months after initial installation.
The rate of formaldehyde off-gassing almost certainly is a function of these variables
The type of laminate flooring and its components: in the two photos just above the engineered wood laminate flooring at left is made of all wood plies glued together. Formaldehyde may be an ingredient in the glue bonding these plies. At above right is a different laminated flooring product whose inner core is made of a particle-board like material. The composition of the right-hand laminated floor sample (photo above right) may contain more total formaldehyde than its neighbor. Or maybe not. In addition to the use of core wood-product materials that may contain formaldehyde binder resins, formaldehyde-resin binders are used for the bonding of the finished surface layer on some flooring products. The left hand sample contains more plies and thus would have used more laminate-ply bonding adhesive.
Kim (2005) reported on the effects of using environment-friendly adhesives to replace UF resin to reduce the VOC emissions of laminate flooring.
The density and composition of the original product of any product using formaldehyde affects its off-gassing rate. Open-celled foams and soft goods are likely to off-gas more rapidly than dense products.
The amount of exposed side and end cuts of laminate flooring probably affects its outgassing rate as well as the passage of VOCs out of the formaldehyde-containing core material is easier through the surfaces that are not also covered and sealed by a laminated surface.
The amount of formaldehyde in the original product as well as how the product is constructed.
How the formaldehyde off-gassing test is conducted. For example, a direct test of a formaldehyde-containing particle-board-type wood core of a laminate flooring product would be likely to yield a significantly-higher formaldehyde off-gas level or rate than the actual flooring product would produce once that core has been covered by other layers and the flooring has been installed in a building.
Chamber tests or tests that involve macerating flooring samples to measure formaldehyde outgassing are controlled and accurate in describing the material but are not likely to represent actual conditions in a building where the flooring has been installed.
The building's temperature and humidity. Higher temperatures speed or increase the level off-gassing of formaldehyde. Higher humidity is likely to increase the level of formaldehyde in indoor air if there is a building source of this gas.
In a separate article from the one already cited, Kim (2005) studied the effect of Korean under-floor heating systems (ONDOL) on the formaldehyde level in Korean homes where both laminate flooring and MDF particle-board furniture were present. The exposure of the flooring to higher heat resulted in a significant reduction in the formaldehyde outgassing of the laminate flooring over a 10 day period (levels fell from 0.03 mg/l to 0.10 mg/l after 10 days at 37-50°C) while home furnishings, not exposed to those same high temperatures were found to the most significant source of indoor formaldehyde in indoor air in Korean homes.
The building's fresh air ventilation rate or air change rate: a tight building with little or no fresh air ventilation will generally have higher concentrations of airborne contaminants including gases such as formaldehyde if there is such a source in the building.
The age of the building material that contains formaldehyde. The older a material is the more likely it is that the formaldehyde offgassing rate has been reduced.
Some sources cite that typically the formaldehyde off-gassing rate is halved in the first year after installation of laminate flooring. According to some, and unlike the CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS it would be unusual to find significant formaldehyde off gassing after a few months, or in worst cases a year or two after installation of most such materials.
Really? we have read anecdotal reports that chamber testing of samples of manufactured home laminate flooring from the 1970's could still yield high formaldehyde levels. However we don't have important details such as how those samples were stored and how they might or might not represent installed-building conditions.
UREA FORMALDEHYDE FOAM INSULATION, UFFI, was an open-celled foam insulation pumped into building cavities. After an initial curing period that varied depending on the original foam mix, it would be unusual to detect any significant level of indoor formaldehyde from that source.
The actual formaldehyde test that was used: the sensitivity and test requirements vary among different methods for detecting formaldehyde.
See FORMALDEHYDE TESTS for FLOORING for examples.
I'm not sure I agree with your premise that a significant level of formaldehyde has transferred to the subflooring below your laminate flooring. From your note we don't know if your particular floor was the specific Chinese-made product that has raised this formaldehyde concern. Nor do we know if it is outgassing formaldehyde.
At least I would not, without carefully-constructed testing, assume that the subfloor is a meaningful receiver of formaldehyde such that it would continue to offer an outgassing hazard from having had a laminate or engineered floor installed above it, nor would I assume, without proper testing, that the finish flooring in your home is hazardous.
The most significant source of formaldehyde in
homes today is pressed wood products made with urea-
formaldehyde resins. These include particle board, interior
hardwood paneling, and medium-density fiberboard
(MDF), which has the highest concentration of urea-
formaldehyde of any pressed wood product.
Formaldehyde is normally present at low levels, usually
below 0.03 ppm both indoors and outdoors. However,
buildings with high levels of pressed wood products can
have higher indoor levels.
While the 60-Minutes television program you cite reported unacceptably high levels of formaldehyde, I have not yet located specifics on exactly how the test was performed - so we don't have a clear idea of how well it represents the actual experience likely to be had by homeowners where laminate flooring was installed. - The New York Times, 4 March 2015
Here is what Lumber Liquidators says about the 60-minutes Chinese-made laminate flooring off-gassing test:
60 Minutes used an improper test method in its reporting that is not included in California’s regulations and does not measure a product according to how it is actually used by consumers. 60 Minutes used a “de constructive test,” which would be like testing the emissions of a car by removing the catalytic converter and muffler. In contrast, we perform California Air Resource Board (CARB) testing on the fiberboard core and A SECOND ROUND OF TESTING on the finished product. - Lumber Liquidators, "How is our testing different than 60 Minutes?", retrieved 28 March 2015, original source: http://www.lumberliquidators.com/sustainability/health-and-safety/
The Federal Wood Industries Coalition, an industry trade group, as well as others have published position statements on the use of deconstructive testing to screen materials for formaldehyde offgassing potential. Here is an excerpt from FWIC:
... Most finished goods have laminates, coatings or finishes that further reduce the
emission of residual formaldehyde in common use. The regulations do not consider these
effects – they only regulate the unfinished panel substrates. ... CARB now has under consideration a proposal that would test laminated panels
without removing the laminate, using well established and vetted test methods. We support
the use of this technique. - FWIC Statement on Deconstructive Testing, March 2015, retrieved 28 March 2015, original source: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iwpawood.org/resource/resmgr/Docs/Deconstructive_testing_FWIC_.pdf
Position statements about methods used for testing for formaldehyde such as those suggested by CARB are available from industries that make considerable use of formaldehyde in the production of products such as cabinets, flooring, and particleboard and are included at REFERENCES.
Laminate Flooring Outgassing & Illness Signs?
Reliable formaldehyde outgassing test data vs. anecdotal evidence of flooring-related illness
We do not yet know that the formaldehyde outgassing tests made by the two investors discussed in the 60-Minutes program and in subsequent media reports were made following methods that actually describe the level of indoor formaldehyde exposure that would be experienced by building occupants - since we don't know quite how those tests were performed nor under what building conditions.
And we do know that it is very difficult to construct a truly accurate test of flooring outgassing or many other home indoor air pollutants. As we discuss later in this article series, small changes such as opening or closing windows or doors, turing fans on or off, even placement of a test device can make enormous changes in the test result. Just because a test kit gives a number to five decimal places (precision) that does not mean that the test is accurate (anywhere near the actual level of what's being measured).
However certainly there have been anecdotal reports of people complaining of human or pet illnesses that seem to be related to occupying spaces where new laminate flooring has been installed. - The New York Times, 11 March 2015.
In general, if occupants of a building (or their pets) have health-related complaints that seem to occur or worsen after spending time in the building and that diminish when spending time out of the building, that is suggestive that the building is causing or contributing to those complaints.
Watch out: however building contaminant exposure and health complaints are a complex topic to sort-out. For example, other sources of stress, even job or interpersonal stress could be taking place in one location and not others. And some building-related-illness symptoms or actual illnesses may have a slow onset or the symptoms may be slow to diminish when leaving the source of exposure.
Tests to Make Before Taking Any Remedial Action On Suspected Flooring Formaldehyde Outgassing
Before contemplating any costly action to remove, replace, or cover over laminate flooring that you worry may be an formaldehyde gas source in your building,
see FORMALDEHYDE TESTS for FLOORING to confirm that the flooring in your home is a source of formaldehyde gas contamination indoors.
For a discussion of the normal cycle of public fear over environmental contaminants and the independence of anxiety, testing, or remediation costs from actual hazard levels
see ENVIRO-SCARE - PUBLIC FEAR CYCLE
Watch out: beware of self-styled experts who are going to just stop by and perform a test. Without a careful client interview, a taking of the building's history, an observation of its site, construction, materials, history, and other related factors, an environmental test performed alone may give disappointing and expensive results that are not useful: even if a test indicates there is a problem you may have to hire someone over again to perform much the same work in order to find the problem source and to recommend appropriate corrective measures.
Formaldehyde exposure limits: U.S. Federal and State Level
Watch out: U.S. federal government standards for permissible exposure levels of formaldehyde gas were developed for workplace safety not the home environment. There are no federal exposure standards or rules for formaldehyde exposure for end-consumers such as homeowners or occupants of commercial spaces where a formaldehyde outgassing material has been installed.
In the E.U. formaldehyde use in household products and chemical outgassing from wood products is more closely regulated, and as The Times pointed out, in Japan it is home builders who are required to limit the overall formaldehyde levels in new construction. - op. cit. 3/11/15
Laminate or engineered wood floor formaldehyde outgassing remediation
After we have such test results then if there is a problem traced to your particular flooring, we can discuss approaches to stop the issue, ranging from demolition and removal to use of sealants and over-layers of other flooring.
Research on Effects on Laminate Flooring Formaldehyde Outgassing Rates
Kim, Sumin. "Environment-friendly adhesives for surface bonding of wood-based flooring using natural tannin to reduce formaldehyde and TVOC emission." Bioresource technology 100, no. 2 (2009): 744-748.
The objective of this research was to develop environment-friendly adhesives for face fancy veneer bonding of engineered flooring using the natural tannin form bark in the wood. The natural wattle tannin adhesive were used to replace UF resin in the formaldehyde-based resin system in order to reduce formaldehyde and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from the adhesives used between plywoods and fancy veneers. PVAc was added to the natural tannin adhesive to increase viscosity of tannin adhesive for surface bonding. For tannin/PVAc hybrid adhesives, 5%, 10%, 20% and 30% of PVAc to the natural tannin adhesives were added. tannin/PVAc hybrid adhesives showed better bonding than the commercial natural tannin adhesive with a higher level of wood penetration. The initial adhesion strength was sufficient to be maintained within the optimum initial tack range. The standard formaldehyde emission test (desiccator method), field and laboratory emission cell (FLEC) and VOC analyzer were used to determine the formaldehyde and VOC emissions from engineered flooring bonded with commercial the natural tannin adhesive and tannin/PVAc hybrid adhesives. By desiccator method and FLEC, the formaldehyde emission level of each adhesive showed the similar tendency. All adhesives satisfied the E1 grade (below 1.5 mg/L) and E0 grade (below 0.5 mg/L) with UV coating. VOC emission results by FLEC and VOC analyzer were different with the formaldehyde emission results. TVOC emission was slightly increased as adding PVAc.
Kim, Sumin, and Hyun‐Joong Kim. "Comparison of formaldehyde emission from building finishing materials at various temperatures in under heating system; ONDOL." Indoor Air 15, no. 5 (2005): 317-325.
Abstract Excerpt: Abstract The objective of this research was to investigate the eﬀect of varioustemperatures, room, 37 and 50°C, on formaldehyde emission from ﬂoor mate-rials, such as laminate and plywood ﬂoorings, and furniture materials, such asMDF and particleboard veneered with decorative paper foil, by desiccator’smethod. The temperature conditions were set up by, measuring the tempe raturein a Korean under heating syst em. To maintain an indoor air temperature of 20°C, the temperature of the ﬂooring surface was about 37°C and the tem-perature of the cement mortar was 50°C. The initial form aldehyde emission ofthe laminate ﬂoor ing and plywood ﬂooring was 1.44 and 0.63 mg/l, and forMDF and particleboard it was 4.73 and 4.95 mg/l, respectively. Floor materialswere under E1 grade while furniture materials were under E2grade in terms offormaldehyde emission. Because of the under heating system, the ﬂooringmaterials were exposed to 37 and 50°C, while the furniture mate rials mostlyexisted at room temperature. At 37 and 50°C, the formaldehyde emission level ofthe ﬂooring materials was already under 0.3 ppm (F**** level by JIS A 1460,application possibility without area limit) after 10 days and the emission haddecreased further (0.03–0.10 mg/l) after 28 days. These levels are not injurious tothe human body and will not cause sick house syndrome (SHS). The problem,however, is the furniture materials such as MDF and particleboard. As thesematerials are not exposed to high tempe rature (50°C in this experiment) in livingcondition, it was still E2 grade of formaldehyde emission level at room tem-perature remained even after 28 days. Although there will be variations with thevolume of furniture materials and the indoor conditions, furniture materials arethe principal cause of indoor air quality pollution in Korean with the underheating system.
Koreans spend most of their time sitting on ONDOL (heated) floors, with their buttocks always in contact with the floor surface. The flooring materials are exposed to high temperatures (37-50°C) why [sic] the effect of bake-out is rapid. The emission of formaldehyde from furniture materials are more important for the IAQ because usually MDF and particleboasrd of E2 grade are being used as furniture materials in Korea.
Excerpts from the article conclusions: From the results of measuring the temperature in the
under heating system, we analyzed the formaldehyde
emission of flooring and furniture materials at the
dry oven temperatures of 20, 37 and 50°C. Because
of the under heating system, the flooring materials
are exposed to 37 and 50°C, while the furniture
materials mostly exist at room temperature. Flooring
materials were exposed to temperatures of 37 and
50°C while furniture materials were only exposed
to room temperature during under heating.
After bake-out the formaldehyde emissions of flooring
materials were much lower than those of furniture
materials. Although the results depend on
the volume of the installed, building finishing
materials, furniture materials such as MDF and
particleboard are the principal offenders of indoor
air quality pollution in Korea. Furthermore, it is
necessary that the temperature factor should be
considered for the management of indoor air quality
because we live with the under heating system
Kim, Sumin, and Hyun-Joong Kim. "Effect of addition of polyvinyl acetate to melamine-formaldehyde resin on the adhesion and formaldehyde emission in engineered flooring." International Journal of Adhesion and Adhesives 25, no. 5 (2005): 456-461.
The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of adding polyvinyl acetate (PVAc), for reducing the formaldehyde emission level, on the adhesion properties of melamine-formaldehyde (MF) resin for fancy veneer and plywood in engineered flooring. We controlled the hot-press temperature, time and pressure to determine the bonding strength and formaldehyde emission. Blends of various MF resin/PVAc compositions were prepared. To determine and compare the effect of PVAc content, 0, 30, 50, 70 and 100% PVAc floorings, by weight of MF resin, were used. Wheat flour, 25% by weight of adhesive, was added as material to increase the quantity. To determine the level of formaldehyde emission, we used the desiccator method. The formaldehyde emission level decreased with increased additions of PVAc. At a PVAc replacement ratio of only 30%, the formaldehyde emission level of the coated sample by UV-curable coat was under E1 grade. Curing of the high MF resin content in this adhesive system (MF resin with PVAc) was well processed indicating that the bonding strength was increased. In the case of PVAc only, the bonding strength was much lower due to the already high temperature of 120 °C. The adhesion layer was broken by high temperature and pressure. The sample with 30% PVAc added to MF resin (MF resin: PVAc=70:30) showed good bonding strength compared with MF resin only in all cases, hot-press temperature, time, pressure and boiling test.
Wiglusz, Renata, Elżbieta Sitko, Grażyna Nikel, Irena Jarnuszkiewicz, and Barbara Igielska. "The effect of temperature on the emission of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from laminate flooring—case study." Building and Environment 37, no. 1 (2002): 41-44.
The effect of temperatures of 23, 29, 50°C on formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emission from laminate flooring Type A (with particleboard as substrate) and Type B (with high density fibre (HDF)) was examined. At 23 and 29°C the measurements did not show any emissions of formaldehyde and very low emissions of VOCs. At a temperature of 50°C, Type A showed a high initial emission of formaldehyde and VOCs, which decreased with time. The emission from Type B was much lower. In conclusion, some laminate flooring may affect the chemical contamination of indoor air with the use of floor heating.
Continue reading at FORMALDEHYDE TESTS for FLOORING where we discuss how to remove, avoid, or eliminate indoor formaldehyde or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
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report of formaldehyde outgassing from cabinets - how to speed the clean-up or clear-up of formaldehyde outgassing
(July 26, 2014) PCantelli@cfl.rr.co said:
My new cabinet's were off gassing .24 .27 .29 I kept coughing and couldn't stop went to the Drs now using inhaler
(Sept 21, 2014) Anonymous said:
I have new paneling in my basement and the smell is giving me asthma attacks. I also have parrots. Will the smell eventually lessen?
Normally yes for most products outgassing diminishes substantially over time. There may be some formaldehyde outgassing products that continue to release detectable formaldehyde for a longer period. In our OINION in the first group are carpets and carpet paddings, in the second group, harder materials such as flooring and particleboard. You can speed the process with heat and ventilation with fresh air.
Watch out: however. Heating a building interior and increasing its relative humidity will increase the formaldehyde level indoors, potentially increasing occupant exposure. There fore these steps are better for unoccupied spaces, while instead, balanced ventilation or a heat exchange fresh air venting system is perhaps safer for reducing formaldehyde levels in an occupied indoor space.
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AIHA, American Industrial Hygiene Association, "Is Formaldehyde from Laminate Flooring a Problem in My Home?", AIHA [draft] 8 May 2015, copy on file.
Kim, Sumin. "Control of formaldehyde and TVOC emission from wood-based flooring composites at various manufacturing processes by surface finishing." Journal of Hazardous Materials 176, no. 1 (2010): 14-19.
Kim, Sumin, and Hyun‐Joong Kim. "Comparison of formaldehyde emission from building finishing materials at various temperatures in under heating system; ONDOL." Indoor Air 15, no. 5 (2005): 317-325
Michael D. Shaw, Interscan Corporation, 4590 Ish Drive #110, Simi Valley CA 93063, USA Tel: 800-458-6153, Website: www.gasdetection.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Interscan is a provider of gas monitoring instruments designed for 21 environmental gases. The company provides gas detection instruments and record-keeping software custom-tailored to the needs of their customers.
Mr. Shaw has contributed comment and opinion on gas detection and gas detection instruments discussed at InspectApedia.com, for example by corresponding with us and commenting on FORMALDEHYDE HAZARDS and GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS and COLORIMETRIC GAS DETECTION TUBES.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Update on Formaldehyde: US CPSC,
American Home Furnishing Alliance (AHFA), 1912 Eastchester Drive, Suite 100 High Point, North Carolina 27265, Website: https://www.ahfa.us/
Excerpt: The American Home Furnishings Alliance is the voice of the residential furniture industry, representing companies large and small, public and private, domestic and import.
ASTM Standard ASTM D6007-14, "Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Concentrations in Air from Wood Products Using a Small-Scale Chamber", ASTM International,ASTM Headquarters
100 Barr Harbor Drive
PO Box C700
West Conshohocken, PA
19428-2959 | USA, website: www.astm.org, retrieved 28 March 2015, original source: http://www.astm.org/Standards/D6007.htm, Abstract Excerpt: (Note that the following text is descriptive and is not the standard itself. That document should be purchased from ASTM)
1.1 This test method measures the formaldehyde concentrations in air emitted by wood product test specimens under defined test conditions of temperature and relative humidity. Results obtained from this small-scale chamber test method are intended to be comparable to results obtained from testing larger product samples by the large chamber test method for wood products, ASTM Test Method E1333. The results may be correlated to values obtained from ASTM Test Method E1333. The quantity of formaldehyde in an air sample from the small chamber is determined by a modification of NIOSH 3500 chromotropic acid test procedure. As with ASTM Test Method E1333, other analytical procedures may be used to determine the quantity of formaldehyde in the air sample provided that such methods give results comparable to those obtained by using the chromotropic acid procedure. However, the test results and test report must be properly qualified and the analytical procedure employed must be accurately described.
1.2 The wood-based panel products to be tested by this test method are characteristically used for different applications and are tested at different relative amounts or loading ratios to reflect different applications. This is a test method that specifies testing at various loading ratios for different product types. However, the test results and test report must be properly qualified and must specify the make-up air flow, sample surface area, and chamber volume.
1.3 Ideal candidates for small-scale chamber testing are products relatively homogeneous in their formaldehyde release characteristics. Still, product inhomogeneities must be considered when selecting and preparing samples for small-scale chamber testing.
1.4 The values stated in SI units are the standard values. Any values given in parentheses are for information only.
1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.
"Joint Industry Statement on Deconstructive Testing", Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA), American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), International Wood Products Association (IWPA), retrieved 28 March 2015, original source: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iwpawood.org/resource/resmgr/Docs/Joint_Industry_Statement_on_.pdf
Excerpt: The California Air Resource Board (CARB) defines deconstructive testing as:
‘the process of separating or cutting the finished good into component parts so that pieces of the
underlying panel may be accessed in order to remove the coating or laminate to achieve a test specimen
that can be sent to a lab for formaldehyde emissions testing. This process includes removing coatings
from hardwood plywood and removing laminates (synthetic or wood veneer) from laminated products to
access the underlying composite wood products. For finished goods that consist of a laminated product
in which one side is not laminated or coated, the product may be cut and tested as a panel with a surface
coating on one side.’
"Federal Wood Industries Coalition Statement on Deconstructive Testing", Federal Wood Industries Coalition, FWIC, 11 March 2015, retrieved 28 March 2015, original source: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iwpawood.org/
Excerpt: The Federal Wood Industries Coalition is a broad group representing
manufacturers of panels, furniture, cabinets, other finished goods, resins and others.
FWIC has worked closely with CARB officials throughout its rulemaking process and was
instrumental in the passage of federal legislation to adopt the California regulations on a
Kessler, Aaron M. & Abrams, Rachel, "Homeowners Try to Assess Risks from Chemical in Floors", The New York Times, 11 March 2015, p. B9
Kessler, Aaron M. & Abrams, Rachel, "Lumber Liquidators Plunges After TV Report of Tainted Flooring", The New York Times, 4 March 2015
"An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality: Formaldehyde", U.S EPA, - see http://www.epa.gov/iaq/formalde.html
Sources of Formaldehyde [in buildings]
Formaldehyde is an important chemical used widely by industry to manufacture building materials and numerous household products. It is also a by-product of combustion and certain other natural processes. Thus, it may be present in substantial concentrations both indoors and outdoors.
Sources of formaldehyde in the home include building materials, smoking, household products, and the use of un-vented, fuel-burning appliances, like gas stoves or kerosene space heaters. Formaldehyde, by itself or in combination with other chemicals, serves a number of purposes in manufactured products. For example, it is used to add permanent-press qualities to clothing and draperies, as a component of glues and adhesives, and as a preservative in some paints and coating products.
In homes, the most significant sources of formaldehyde are likely to be pressed wood products made using adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins. Pressed wood products made for indoor use include: particleboard (used as sub-flooring and shelving and in cabinetry and furniture); hardwood plywood paneling (used for decorative wall covering and used in cabinets and furniture); and medium density fiberboard (used for drawer fronts, cabinets, and furniture tops). Medium density fiberboard contains a higher resin-to-wood ratio than any other UF pressed wood product and is generally recognized as being the highest formaldehyde-emitting pressed wood product.
Other pressed wood products, such as softwood plywood and flake or oriented strand board, are produced for exterior construction use and contain the dark, or red/black-colored phenol-formaldehyde (PF) resin. Although formaldehyde is present in both types of resins, pressed woods that contain PF resin generally emit formaldehyde at considerably lower rates than those containing UF resin.
Health Effects of Formaldehyde in buildings
Formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas, can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per million). High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma. There is evidence that some people can develop a sensitivity to formaldehyde. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions. May cause cancer. May also cause other effects listed under "organic gases."
"An Update on Formaldehyde" (local copy), U.S. CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), 1977 Revision, Original source - http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/725.pd
Paul Probett, Incodo ltd Building Consultancy, Tauranga New Zealand,
Ph: 0064 7 578 7499 - Office, Post:
Incodo Ltd, Box 8202, Cherrywood, Tauranga, New Zealand, is a building expert who has addressed building moisture investigations, UFFI insulation, urea formaldehyde outgassing in buildings. Mr. Probett reports (2 May 2010):
We have a major leaky home problem here with probably 80-100,000 homes built in the last 25 years which leak badly and require on average about $180K US to remediate. Causes are an interesting subject by themselves, but government here acknowledges they had something to do with it and employ people like me to investigate and report for a token fee to the public.
Needless to say our investigation techniques have developed sharply and standard inspection for moisture intrusion includes NDT [non-destructive moisture and leak investigation techniques] using thermal imagers in concert with both microwave and dielectric constant moisture meters (Favoured brand is the German Trotec™ T2000 multiunit . We have also sharpened our way of measuring moisture in non timber materials using Trotec or Gann resistance probes to take readings from a variety of materials as well as using narrow diameter temp/humidity probes. I add to the mix using Logtag data loggers cards to identify dew point problems.
... We are becoming increasingly concerned here as off gassing rates ( the company doing installs here uses USA sourced UF foam) do not seem to stabilize as quickly as some literature suggests. Since NIOSH and CDC now ( recently anyway) class UF as a carcinogen we have elevated concerns.
The other issue is that we are getting anecdotal evidence that when UFFI is wet it breaks down to airborne UF. In addition given your recent FEMA problem with class actions over UF release from emergency accommodation trailers used after Hurricane Katrina- the issue has a new lease of life.
We still use UF in large quantities in particle board here ( 106kg/m3 of UF and about 20kg/m2 of Toluene) and believe we are seeing off gassing of these products from wet what you call OSB I think. - at levels high enough to suggest high risk to long term occupants. ... I like Gastec sorbent tubes over Draeger - simpler quicker and cheaper.
Looking forward to getting a Walleye Technologies microwave imager for inspection purposes as soon as they're released - looks a very promising tool for the box
"CDC Releases Results Of Formaldehyde Level Tests", 14 February 2008, original source:
Quoting from portions of that document:
NEW ORLEANS, La. -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released today preliminary results from recent testing that found higher than typical indoor exposure levels of formaldehyde in travel trailers and mobile homes used as emergency housing in the Gulf Coast Region.
... These findings support FEMA's continued focus on finding permanent housing for everyone who has been living in travel trailers and mobile homes since the hurricanes," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. "The levels in many of these trailers and mobile homes are higher than would be expected indoors. Since these levels were found in December and January, and we know that higher temperatures can cause formaldehyde levels to go up, we think it's wise for people to be relocated before the hot weather arrives in summer. We also think that it would be beneficial for people who are displaying symptoms as well as households with children, elderly persons, or occupants with chronic respiratory illnesses to receive priority consideration for alternate housing.
CDC's preliminary evaluation of a scientifically established random sample of 519 travel trailers and mobile homes tested between Dec. 21, 2007 and Jan. 23, 2008 showed average levels of formaldehyde in all units of about 77 parts per billion (ppb). Long-term exposure to levels in this range can be linked to an increased risk of cancer, and as levels rise above this range, there can also be a risk of respiratory illness. These levels are is higher than expected in indoor air, where levels are commonly in the range of 10-20 ppb. Levels measured ranged from 3 ppb to 590 ppb.
CDC and FEMA recommend that Gulf Coast families living in travel trailers and mobile homes spend as much time outdoors in fresh air as possible. Residents should open windows to let fresh air in whenever possible, and try to maintain the temperature inside their travel trailers or mobile homes at the lowest comfortable level. Higher temperatures can cause greater release of formaldehyde. Persons who have health concerns are encouraged to see a doctor or another medical professional.
The two agencies have established toll-free hotlines. FEMA employees are available to discuss housing concerns at 1 (800) 621-FEMA (3362), or TDD: 1 (800) 462-7585. CDC specialists will respond to health-related concerns at 1-800- CDC-INFO.
"Formaldehyde and Travel Trailers", U.S. Department of Homeland Security - FEMA, 20 July, 2007, original source: - http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=36730 Quoting from portions of that document:
Of the 120,000 travel trailers and mobile homes provided to survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf, FEMA has documented 206 complaints of strange odors, including formaldehyde complaints. At residents' requests, FEMA switched out units for trailers that had already been used and ventilated. FEMA distributed information to trailer occupants across the country explaining how persons sensitive to formaldehyde may be affected by its presence and laid out actions that should be taken to reduce exposure in the trailers.
All new, unused and unventilated travel trailers have formaldehyde in them. The concentration of formaldehyde can be reduced significantly by ventilating the units by running fans with open doors and windows. Other factors that affect the levels of formaldehyde indoors include the type and age of source materials, temperature and humidity. It also is important to recognize that some people are more sensitive to the effects of formaldehyde than others.
Based on issues recently brought to our attention and new questions about health effects of formaldehyde, FEMA has again engaged the scientific community to review current concerns about the effects of formaldehyde on travel trailer residents of the Gulf. In conducting this re-evaluation, FEMA has teamed up with the Department of Homeland Security Office of Health Affairs (DHS OHA), and multiple agencies within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of note, these evaluations will not be limited to formaldehyde, but will take a holistic view of analyzing symptoms and possible causes. These agencies will work together to determine the relationship between the air quality in FEMA's travel trailers and the health of the residents who live in them.
The HUD standard places limits on formaldehyde emissions and product certification of all plywood and particleboard materials, which involves emission certification by a nationally recognized testing laboratory and a written quality control plan for each plant where particle board is produced or finished or where the plywood is finished. These standards have been required by HUD for manufactured homes, and now FEMA's specifications have incorporated those same standards for travel trailers.
The HUD standards also require that each manufactured home be provided with a Health Notice on formaldehyde emissions as required by 3280.309 of the Standards. Adjustments to this will be made based on the findings of follow-up reviews by agencies responsible for determining the effects of formaldehyde and potentially setting standards.
Goldin, Laura J., Liza Ansher, Ariana Berlin, Jenny Cheng, Deena Kanopkin, Anna Khazan, Meda Kisivuli et al. "Indoor Air Quality Survey of Nail Salons in Boston." Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health (2013): 1-7.
Gilbert, Nicolas L., Denis Gauvin, Mireille Guay, Marie-Ève Héroux, Geneviève Dupuis, Michel Legris, Cecilia C. Chan, Russell N. Dietz, and Benoît Lévesque. "Housing characteristics and indoor concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde in Quebec City, Canada." Environmental Research 102, no. 1 (2006): 1-8.
Gilbert, Nicolas L., Mireille Guay, Denis Gauvin, Russell N. Dietz, Cecilia C. Chan, and Benoît Lévesque. "Air change rate and concentration of formaldehyde in residential indoor air." Atmospheric Environment 42, no. 10 (2008): 2424-2428.
Hodgson, A. T., D. Beal, and J. E. R. McIlvaine. "Sources of formaldehyde, other aldehydes and terpenes in a new manufactured house." Indoor Air 12, no. 4 (2002): 235-242.
Kelly, Thomas J., Deborah L. Smith, and Jan Satola. "Emission rates of formaldehyde from materials and consumer products found in California homes." Environmental Science & Technology 33, no. 1 (1999): 81-88.
Liu, W., J. Zhang, L. Zhang, B. J. Turpin, C. P. Weisel, M. T. Morandi, T. H. Stock, S. Colome, and L. R. Korn. "Estimating contributions of indoor and outdoor sources to indoor carbonyl concentrations in three urban areas of the United States." Atmospheric Environment 40, no. 12 (2006): 2202-2214.
Park, J. S., and K. Ikeda. "Variations of formaldehyde and VOC levels during 3 years in new and older homes." Indoor air 16, no. 2 (2006): 129-135.
Pierce, J. S., A. Abelmann, L. J. Spicer, R. E. Adams, M. E. Glynn, K. Neier, B. L. Finley, and S. H. Gaffney. "Characterization of formaldehyde exposure resulting from the use of four professional hair straightening products." Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 8, no. 11 (2011): 686-699.
"The Formaldehyde Fuss", 25 Sept. 2007, RV Trade Digest, web search 05/03/2010 - see http://www.rvtradedigest.com/interactive/2007/09/25/the-formaldehyde-fuss/
Quoting from the RV trade association's article:
The association brought in a hired gun to bring manufacturers, dealers and suppliers up to speed about the issue which has garnered media attention to the point some consumers wonder whether they’ll be poisoned in their RVs, as some media outlets have contended. The bottom line is that the media hype is groundless and it is up to us to educate consumers about the formaldehyde fuss. ...
Dr. Lee Shull is a professional toxicologist who works as the corporate risk services director for Environmental Resources Management in Sacramento, Calif. He was invited by RVIA [The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is the national trade association representing recreation vehicle (RV) manufacturers and their components - www.rvia.org] to expose the fallacy of the formaldehyde issue. ... he did an excellent job putting the issue in its proper context. Here are a few bullet points you can use to reassure customers that RVs remain safe.
Formaldehyde is one of the most naturally occurring organic compounds in the universe
It is not unusual for people to be exposed to formaldehyde daily through clothing, carpeting, building materials and even food
It is often used as a disinfectant and antimicrobial solution
It is fed to livestock
It is found in soap and cosmetics
It is used in the food industry to process fish, cheese and juice
It has been used for 70 years to create exceptionally strong glue that securely bonds one material to another
[Watch out: the comments on Formaldehyde by RVIA and Dr. Shull, and summarized above, do not address the formaldehyde health research nor formaldehyde outgassing advice provided by the U.S. CDC, Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, and the US EPA, and other experts.]
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