Formaldehyde has been used widely by industry to manufacture building materials and numerous household products. It may be present in substantial concentrations indoors as a result of off-gassing from various produces. EPA has extensive information on formaldehyde as part of their IAQ section – EPA-formaldehyde [right click on link to open site in New Window].
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.
Some individuals are more sensitive to these vapors than others as a result of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity/Intolerance and experience eye irritation and other symptoms. Their intolerance may warrant in-home screening.
While there have been new guidelines to produce products with lower formaldehyde emissions, sensitized individuals may still react to resulting levels. At the same time EPA is evaluating whether to classify formaldehyde as a human carcinogen, rather than merely a suspect human carcinogen. [This website will provide a link when one is available on that topic.]
Dr. Vaughan has provided cost-effective formaldehyde sampling services in homes and businesses since the mid 1990s. He has found that use of chemical absorption badges developed for industrial surveys can provide a combination of sensitivity and reasonable cost to screen for formaldehyde levels over a 4-5 day period, usually at two locations. NES compares data from a screening to various state and federal guidelines in order to provide perspective on the significance of the results.
Contact NES to arrange for screening services.
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