Formaldehyde Gas Outgassing Tests for Laminate Flooring
Formaldehyde test methods, errors, formaldehyde exposure limits. Should you test floor products for formaldehyde? What tests are available? What will it tell you?
FORMALDEHYDE TESTS for FLOORING - CONTENTS: How should we test for formaldehyde gas exposure levels indoors; if high levels of formaldehyde are found, have we properly identified the source?
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Formaldehyde gas testing for laminate & other flooring products:
How to make an accurate, representative test for formaldehyde outgassing from flooring. 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.
The Dräger Bio-Check Formaldehyde Test Kit shown at page top is discussed later in this article series.
Tests to Make Before Taking Any Remedial Action On Suspected Flooring Formaldehyde Outgassing
Is there an obvious indoor air quality emergency in your building? If you believe so, that is, if you feel unsafe, leave the building immediately and seek expert assistance.
See IAQ EMERGENCY STEPS for four actions to take in an immediate IAQ Emergency. Otherwise, read-on.
In March of 2015 in response to concerns about possible formaldehyde outgassing from Chinese-made laminate flooring sold in the United States by Lumber Liquidators, the company said that it would offer free air tests for formaldehyde to consumers who have installed laminated flooring sold by that provider. - Abrams, Rachel, The New York Times, 3/13/2015 and Lumber Liquidators "Air Quality Test Kit", retrieved 28 March 2015, link given below.
Consumers who purchased Chinese-Made laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators, will be asked for simple information that permits a retrieval of their flooring order to determine if their flooring qualifies for this free test offer. Quoting from the company's information on formaldehyde outgassing of laminate flooring,
To reassure our customers, we are providing indoor air quality testing at no cost to qualifying customers as the fastest, most effective way to measure the total level of formaldehyde in the home. The testing is being administered and the results produced by an independent, accredited lab. The customer is in control of the process, with clear instructions on the test and its results. We will conduct an in-depth evaluation of air quality and potential formaldehyde sources for any customer whose results are inconclusive or above established thresholds. Our customer care team will work with our valued customers throughout the process.
The [Lumber Liquidator] home test kits [for formaldehyde] are being provided as a step for customers with our laminate floors to help reassure them that their floor as installed is safe. Please fill out the form found at the link below to determine if your floor qualifies for the free test kit. If your floor does qualify, you will be walked through the process of ordering the test via an independent lab. - Lumber Liquidators "Air Quality Test Kit", retrieved 28 March 2015, link "FREE HOME TEST KITS from LUMBER LIQUIDATOR"
InspectAPedia.com is an independent publisher of building, environmental, and forensic inspection, diagnosis, and repair information for the public - we have no business nor financial connection with any manufacturer or service provider discussed at our website.
What Home Formaldehyde Tests for Flooring Outgassing Make Sense? And When?
Watch out: while properly-conducted "air test" for formaldehyde can serve as a reasonable screen about the general level of indoor formaldehyde at the time the test was conducted, without further testing one cannot conclude that formaldehyde, if detected, is coming from a specific source such as flooring. Any air test of the indoor level of a gas or particle is very much affected by test conditions such as activity of building ventilation systems, temperature, humidity, indoor air movement and other factors.
If an indoor air test for formaldehyde does suggest that action may be appropriate to get that level down, before contemplating any costly remedial action such as removing or replacing laminate flooring, consumers should consider the results of more carefully constructed tests of formaldehyde levels.
But before using your own "home test kit for formaldehyde" it is important to understand what the test can actually tell you.
An environmental professional such as a certified industrial hygienist (CIH) may point out that only a sophisticated chamber test for formaldehyde can provide an accurate measure of actual formaldehyde levels or formaldehyde outgassing from a material. But most building owners or tenants are understandably reluctant to rip out a section of their installed flooring. Sending off a sample of left-over segments of an installed floor might be informative but because of the variables we listed just above, a flooring fragment test, even if analyzed with great precision in a test chamber, cannot tell you the level of formaldehyde exposure in the building where the floor is installed.
So what might be a reasonable formaldehyde test approach for a building where Chinese-made formaldehyde-suspect laminate flooring has been installed?
Test 1: Is there a hazard at all? A properly-conducted test of formaldehyde levels in your home using a reliable method and performed by someone who has enough sense to assure the test actually represents occupant-exposure would probably be made at a fixed height above the floor (typically at a height where people breathe) and under other key conditions such as controlling building ventilation and activity. The test must also note all site and building conditions that affect test outcome such as indoor temperature, humidity and other factors such as building height, air movement pathways, and level of occupancy in order to determine if there were harmful levels of formaldehyde present during the measurement interval.
Watch out: performing a "screening test" for formaldehyde without understanding how building & test conditions can affect the results means that even using the most sophisticated test tool or device still produces an inaccurate result.
Don't confuse precision (a number with lots of decimal places) with accuracy (how well the number actually represents the true conditions in the test area.) In my own field and forensic lab experience I've seen literally several orders of magnitude in air test results depending on very simple and usually uncontrolled building conditions such as the use or disuse of fans or the opening or closing off of fresh air cycles.
See ACCURACY vs PRECISION of MEASUREMENTS
Watch out: even if an air test of indoor formaldehyde levels in your home or office shows that the formaldehyde level is unacceptably high, you still need to identify the source of the formaldehyde before planning any action.
Test 2: If there is a potential or probable formaldehyde gas problem, where is it coming from? Tests may need to be performed at more than one location: for example in the suspect Chinese-laminate-floored room and in another more remote room in the structure where other flooring products are installed. Understanding the formaldehyde sources and their probable rate of outgassing can also help predict the future formaldehyde levels in the building and thus can help you decide what actions are justified.
Watch out: there are often multiple formaldehyde sources in a building, outgassing at different rates, over differing time periods depending on the material properties, age and other factors. Without sorting out this question of the sources of formaldehyde it could be a costly mistake to presume that removing or covering over laminate flooring is appropriate.
Test 3: What is the formaldehyde exposure risk level? Since building conditions such as ventilation, temperature and humidity can vary widely over time, an expert might want to find the upper limit or bounds of possible formaldehyde hazard by performing a "worst case" formaldehyde test in your building. In other words, one might perform a "most aggressive" test of the flooring or other formaldehyde-sources in the most-suspect room(s) in the home.
This test is intended to confirm the principal formaldehyde source(s) and to understand the possible limits of concentrations of formaldehyde that could possibly come from that source.
This might be performed using sophisticated equipment or possibly using low-cost "ballpark-measurement" devices by collecting a sample under an enclosed cover right over the floor surface either over a specified interval. This test, performed on more than one surface or material can also confirm (or deny) that the flooring is the primary formaldehyde source.
For example, after a specified interval, say 24 hours, has been allowed to pass to permit formaldehyde gas, if present, to accumulate under an enclosed cover such as that described
at SMELL PATCH TEST to FIND ODOR SOURCE a badge-type (or other) sampling device left therein is collected for analysis to provide a basis for comparing the emissions from that surface with others in the building. The actual test duration interval necessary for an accurate measurement of formaldehyde levels varies by the test method or instrument used and ranges from minutes to 24+ hours.
Watch out: one more time: building conditions of temperature, humidity, ventilation and air movement have a significant impact on the accuracy of any measurement of any airborne substance. It is important to document and control other conditions in the building that would affect the test results, such as the use of fans, HVAC systems, or of windows & doors being opened or closed, and the overall air exchange rate or leakiness of the home.
Note that the application of this test procedure described for formaldehyde testing is not a "smell test" or "formaldehyde odor test" but rather an option for isolating possible formaldehyde offgassing sources in a building.
Do not rely on "formaldehyde smell" or odor to decide if there is a formaldehyde hazard indoors. Health hazards could be present below the threshold of people's ability to smell it. The average odor threshold for formaldehyde is 0.83 ppm, with few
people being able to detect formaldehyde at levels lower than 0.5 ppm. (DeVany 2007).
Should you test for formaldehyde at all?
The three levels of formaldehyde testing explained above sound like a lot of trouble. Why can't we just plop a test kit in the home and send that off to a lab. Well you certainly can do that, or hire someone to do it. But without intelligently-gathered test data your "test result" may be little more than speculative, and there may remain a risk of making an expensive mistake such as removing a laminate floor that was not the principal formaldehyde source.
The decision to proceed with first, a screening test for indoor formaldehyde levels and second to complete diagnostic testing that identifies the source and thus helps determine what actions are needed depends on an additional set of questions. In North America Health Canada offers this position on testing homes for formaldehyde:
Testing your home for formaldehyde is generally not necessary. If you are concerned that the formaldehyde levels may be high, because of health symptoms, odours or obvious formaldehyde sources, the best step is to remove sources if possible and to increase ventilation. If you are having health symptoms, talk to a doctor, as only they can determine if the symptoms are related to your environment.
If for some reason sampling is deemed necessary, it is recommend to sample for 8-24 hours and to take the average formaldehyde level. The sampling method used should follow a recognized protocol such as those published by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or United States Department of Labour's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Samples should be sent to an accredited laboratory for analysis. Common accreditations include the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) or Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA). - Health Canada, "Formaldehyde in Indoor Air", Health Canada . Sante Canada, retrieved 29 March 2015, original source: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/air/formaldehyde/fact-info-eng.php
Do Test for Formaldehyde If:
You are facing significant costs blamed on formaldehyde outgassing: You should test for formaldehyde outgassing both as a starting screening test and if indicated from that test, you should test specific / suspect materials if you are facing a significant cost to modify a building in response to a persistent formaldehyde problem. You'll be sorry if you rip out a new laminate floor and then find that formaldehyde levels in the building are as high as before.
Your Doctor recommends testing for formaldehyde exposure: You should test for formaldehyde if your doctor wants to know your exposure level to formaldehyde. (Be sure you test locations where you spend the most time, including in the workplace).
It might also be appropriate to test for formaldehyde depending on answers to the following questions
Are there occupants who complain of indoor air quality issues such as chemical odors or health complaints that seem building related? The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission for Product Safety points out that
"In pure form, even at very low concentrations of below 1 part per million (ppm), formaldehyde is a virtually colourless gas with a pungent odour." - Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, "Product Safety in Australia, Formaldehyde in Consumer Products", retrieved 29 March 2015, original source: https://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/973697
See DEFINITION of IAQ PROBLEM
Are there occupants who are at extra risk if they may be exposed to high levels of formaldehyde? These are questions for your doctor. Certainly where we give similar advice for mold-contaminated buildings we include in the "at risk" population people who are asthmatic, allergic, elderly, infant, or have compromised immune systems.
See MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ?
Are there suspect materials likely to be a source of problematic levels of formaldehyde outgassing? If removing or covering such materials involves significant cost, it makes sense to confirm the presence of a formaldehyde problem traced to those materials before taking action. Or for the current topic in the blaze of media attention, does your building have a laminate-floor purchased from Lumber Liquidators and that the company agrees was among the Chinese-made products for which a formaldehyde hazard question was raised by a TV program?
Really? Well yes and no. Lumber Liquidators, at their website, insist that their product has regularly tested well below recommended formaldehyde limits, while independent tests claimed the opposite. A key argument centers on what formaldehyde testing methods are appropriate, accurate and representative of the actual indoor environment where the flooring product is installed. We expect that further independent testing will lead to more clearly-understood information on whether or not there is a potential health hazard associated with laminate flooring such that testing is or is not merited.
Watch out: if your "IAQ expert" is going to just stop by and drop off a home test kit you may find you have to hire someone all over again to provide enough inspection and testing to both diagnose the presence of a problem and advise you what actions are needed - if any. Unfortunately it is often difficult to distinguish between real hazards and things that are scary, and regrettably it is often common for each cycle of public worry to generate an entire industry of companies profiting from that fear independently of whether the hazards are real or imagined.
See ENVIRO-SCARE - PUBLIC FEAR CYCLES
see MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ?
Watch out as well for conflicts of interest. Do not hire an environmental consultant who has any financial relationship with a company who may perform remediation work if that is necessary or who is going to profit in any way from any remediation work that may be performed.
See CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Do Not Test for Formaldehyde If:
There are no problem indicators or triggers: Our opinion is that there is no justification to simply adopt a policy of screening every North American building of all ages, types, materials, occupancies, for formaldehyde levels.
No different action be taken based on test results: Our opinion is no, don't bother testing for formaldehyde if the test results will not change the action that is to be taken. For example on noting the age and extent of formaldehyde-outgassing material it a building owner or occupant may have decided that a combination of simple ventilation and waiting for the diminution of outgassing over time is sufficient action.
The testing method is not reliable: unless the screening method for formaldehyde will produce results that reliably indicate the presence or absence of an actual hazard to building occupants the test should not be conducted. This may seem obvious but it's not. As we have discussed under indoor mold contamination testing
at MOLD CULTURE TEST KIT VALIDITY, even popular, widely sold environmental tests can be fundamentally flawed offering potential errors of both types: indicating that there is a problem when there is not one, and indicating that there is no problem when one is actually present. Either type of error can be very costly to consumers.
At FORMALDEHYDE GAS TEST METHODS & PROCEDURES we describe the variety of testing methods are used to screen for indoor formaldehyde levels ranging from simple badge-type formaldehyde test kits to pumps and sophisticated formaldehyde gas detection meters and test chambers.
At FORMALDEHYDE GAS TEST KITS, METERS we give details about different formaldehyde test kits, tools, or instruments such as formaldehyde gas detection instruments used for testing for formaldehyde gas. There we list sources of various formaldehyde test tools, badges, home test kits etc. including the Dräger Bio-Check Formaldehyde Test Kit shown at page top.
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.
Update on Formaldehye", U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, US CPSC, original source:
www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/121919/AN%20UPDATE%20ON%20FORMALDEHYDE%20final%200113.pdf"Formaldehyde, Hazard Summar" U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, US EPA, (2000) - retrieved 17 April 2015, original source: http://www.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/formalde.html
Continue reading at STOP LAMINATE FLOORING OUTGASSING 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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Questions & answers or comments about the sources of formaldehyde gas hazards, odors, or smells in buildings.hklkjhg
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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.
DeVany, Mary C. "The Serious Public Health Issues Resulting from Formaldehyde Exposures Within FEMA Travel Trailers Issued to Hurricane Disaster Victims, and Recommended Action Items." (2007).
Tang, Xiaojiang, Yang Bai, Anh Duong, Martyn T. Smith, Laiyu Li, and Luoping Zhang. "Formaldehyde in China: Production, consumption, exposure levels, and health effects." Environment international 35, no. 8 (2009): 1210-1224.
ASTM D5197-09e1: “Standard
test method for determination of formaldehyde and other carbonyl compounds in
air (active sampler methodology)” , 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/D5197.htm,
Significance and Use
This test method provides an analytical procedure for measuring formaldehyde and other carbonyl compounds in indoor or outdoor air.
1.1 This test method covers a procedure for the determination of formaldehyde (HCHO) and other carbonyl compounds (aldehydes and ketones) in air. Other carbonyl compounds that have been validated for determination by this method include acetaldehyde, acetone, propanal (propionaldehyde), methacrolein, 2-butanone (methyl ethyl ketone), butyraldehyde, benzaldehyde, isovaleraldehyde, valeraldehyde, o-tolualdehyde, m-tolualdehyde, p-tolualdehyde, hexanal, and 2,5-dimethylbenzaldehyde. Acrolein and crotonaldehyde can not be determined quantitatively using the analytical procedure described in 10.2 due to the formation of multiple derivative peaks and the instability of the peak ratios . However, the procedure described in the Annex A has been used by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency to estimate acrolein and crotonaldehyde concentrations in standard atmospheres following special precautions.
1.2 This test method involves drawing air through a cartridge containing silica gel coated with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH) reagent. Carbonyl compounds readily form stable derivatives with the DNPH reagent. The DNPH derivatives are analyzed for parent aldehydes and ketones utilizing high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The sampling procedure is a modification of U.S. EPA Method TO-11A (see 2.2).
1.3 This test method is based on the specific reaction of carbonyl compounds with DNPH in the presence of an acid to form stable derivatives according to the reaction shown in Fig. 1, (where: both R and R1 are alkyl or aromatic groups (ketones), or both, or either R or R1 is a hydrogen atom (aldehydes)). The determination of formaldehyde and other carbonyl compounds, as DNPH derivatives, is similar to that of U.S. EPA Method TO-11A in that it utilizes HPLC with UV detection as the analytical finish. The detection limits have been extended to other carbonyl compounds that can be determined as outlined in Section 10.2.4. This test method is suitable for determination of formaldehyde and other carbonyl compounds in the concentration range from approximately 10 ppb to 1 ppm (v/v).
1.4 The sampling method gives a time-weighted average (TWA) sample. It can be used for long-term (1 to 24 h) or short-term (5 to 60 min) sampling of air for formaldehyde.
1.5 This test method instructs the user on how to prepare sampling cartridges from commercially available chromatographic grade silica gel cartridges by the application of acidified DNPH to each cartridge.
1.6 The sampling flow rate, as described in this test method, has been validated for sampling rates up to 1.5 L/min. This flow rate limitation is principally due to the high pressure drop (>8 kPa at 1.0 L/min) across the user prepared silica gel cartridges which have a particle size of 55 to 105 μm. These cartridges are not generally compatible with battery-powered pumps used in personal sampling equipment (for example, those used by industrial hygienists.
1.7 Alternatively, pre-coated DNPH silica gel cartridges are also commercially available and may be substituted provided they can be demonstrated to perform equivalently. Some of these use silica gel of a larger particle size that results in a lower pressure drop across the cartridge. These low pressure drop cartridges may be more suitable for sampling air using battery-powered personal sampling pumps.
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.
ASTM Standard ASTM E1333-14, "Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Concentrations in Air and Emission Rates from Wood Products Using a Large 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/E1333.htm, Abstract Excerpt: (Note that the following text is descriptive and is not the standard itself. That document should be purchased from ASTM)
This test method measures the formaldehyde concentration in air and emission rate from wood products containing formaldehyde by the use of a large chamber under specific test conditions of temperature and relative humidity, or conditions designed to simulate product use. This method employs a single set of environmental conditions but different product loading ratios to assess formaldehyde concentrations in air and emission rates from certain wood products. The conditions controlled in the procedure are the conditioning of specimens prior to testing, exposed surface area of the specimens in the test chamber, test chamber temperature and relative humidity, number of air changes per hour, and air circulation within the chamber. At the end of a specified time period in the test chamber, the air is sampled, and the concentration of formaldehyde in the air and emission rate are determined.
'NIOSH 3500 Formaldehyde Method, U.S. Government Printing Office Superintendent of Documents, 732 N. Capitol St., NW, Mail Stop: SDE, Washington, DC 20401, http://www.access.gpo.gov; request U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1989.
California Air Resources Board (CARB), "Special Analysis, Volume VI, Standard Operating Procedures Sampling and Analysis of Formaldehyde Emissions", CARB SOP NLB SOP SAS20, Rev. 1, 08/01/2013, Monitoring and Laboratory Division, November 2012, retrieved 28 March 2015, original source: http://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood/outreach/formaldehydesop.pdf
Excerpt: This method specifies procedures for measuring formaldehyde emissions from
composite wood products (CWPs). CWP samples are loaded into a small testing
chamber using procedures based on ASTM D6007-02: “Standard test method for
determining formaldehyde concentrations in air from wood products using a
small-scale chamber”. The chamber air is sampled using 2,4-
dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH) silica gel cartridges to capture the formaldehyde.
Cartridges are eluted with acetonitrile and the DNPH-derivative sample is
measured using high performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet
detection (HPLC-UV). The procedure is based on ASTM D5197-03: “Standard
test method for determination of formaldehyde and other carbonyl compounds in
air (active sampler methodology)”.
This analytical method may achieve a detection limit of 0.6 ppb and an estimated
quantitation limit (EQL) of 3 ppb for formaldehyde.
Abrams, Rachel, "Lumber Liquidators Offers Flooring Customers Free Air Tests for Formaldehyde", The New York Times, 13 March 2015, p. B4.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Update on Formaldehyde:
Title 8. Industrial Relations Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders Group 16. Control of Hazardous Substances Article 110. Regulated Carcinogens, §5217. Formaldehyde, - retrieved 11 March 2015, original source: https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/5217.html
"Composite Wood Products ATCM", California Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board (CARB), 3 March 2015, original source: http://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood/compwood.htm
California regulations on composite wood products and off gassing: www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood/compwood.htm
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.
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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