[or – before you tear up that floor…!]
If you have concerns that you may have elevated levels of formaldehyde [especially due to new construction or flooring] in your home please consider the following before you take action:
First, some basic facts about formaldehyde:
What is formaldehyde?
At room temperature, formaldehyde is a colorless gas that sometimes has a noticeable odor. It is a chemical substance commonly used in the manufacture of building materials and numerous household products.
Although it has some similar traits [such as ‘off-gassing’], formaldehyde stands independent and is generally not classified as a volatile organic compound (VOC). Formaldehyde is classified as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) by the EPA.
Why test first?
To start with, you need to know if a problem even exists! Obviously there are known, established concerns and health risks regarding elevated levels of formaldehyde. However, new ‘product’ or materials do not automatically mean you have a problem. In addition, formaldehyde emissions are highest when products are new and diminish over time so the longer a product has been in place, the lower the levels of formaldehyde likely to be emitted.
So… before you tear out that new floor, test the air quality- either you will confirm a condition and proceed accordingly, or hopefully save the effort and expense of undoing what you’ve done!
How do you test for it?
We always recommend having trained professionals perform the sampling and laboratory analysis for accuracy both in measurement and interpreting the results.
There are “Do-it-yourself” measuring devices available, but please be aware that these can only provide a “ball park” estimate for the formaldehyde level in the area.
Where does it come from?
Again, Formaldehyde is a chemical. The most significant sources of formaldehyde in homes are:
- Resins used in the manufacture of composite wood products (i.e., hardwood plywood, particle board and medium-density fiberboard)
- Building materials and insulation
- Household products [glues, permanent press fabrics, paints, coatings, lacquers & finishes, paper products]
- Preservatives used in some medicines, cosmetics, other consumer products such as dishwashing liquids and fabric softeners
- Fertilizers and pesticides
- It is a byproduct of combustion and certain other natural processes, and so is also found in emissions from un-vented, fuel burning appliances, like gas stoves or kerosene space heaters. Automobile exhaust from cars without catalytic converters
- Cigarettes and other tobacco products
For more info – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re happy to help!