The Lowdown on Emission
Do emissions from modern building products manufactured
with formaldehyde-based resins pose a health risk? No. In fact,
emission levels from today’s wood products are far below
levels of concern. Here are some facts to keep in mind.
Formaldehyde occurs naturally, and it’s all around
Humans, plants and animals produce it as a normal
part of living. We’re exposed to it everyday as a by-product of automobile
combustion, tobacco smoke, cooking, fireplaces, even our own breathing.
Our bodies readily break down the low levels of formaldehyde to
which we are normally exposed.
Fact #2: All wood species – and
therefore all wood products – contain
and emit small amounts of formaldehyde.
The average oak tree, for
instance, emits 0.009 parts per million (ppm) of formaldehyde.
By itself, this is a very low quantity, but densely wooded areas
can have much higher concentrations. It’s
important to note that wood products touted as “formaldehyde-free” do,
in fact, contain and emit small amounts of formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is normally present at low levels in both outdoor
and indoor air, well below levels that might affect human health.
indoor air quality studies report that, on average, only very low
levels of formaldehyde (less than 0.045 ppm) are present in the
typical new home featuring modern building materials. Levels dissipate
to nearly “background” levels within a short
period of time. Formaldehyde levels found in a typical home or
office building are significantly less – an order of magnitude
lower – than the levels at which we can smell or notice any
irritating effects from formaldehyde.
Fact #4: Momentive and other
resin producers have improved resin technologies and reduced indoor
air formaldehyde levels attributable to building products by 80
to 90 percent since the early 1980s.
now approach ambient (normal) background levels, are well below
strict government standards, and simply do not pose a threat.
Fact #5: Numerous government agencies, whose
missions are to protect people, have put standards in place which
today’s wood products
meet or exceed.
These include the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CSPC), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD), the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration (OSHA), the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) , and state regulators.
Fact #6: Painting, laminating
or coating wood products reduces emissions from wood products to
When cabinetry, furniture,
trim or paneling is painted, stained, laminated or otherwise coated – as
most materials are – they
emit almost no formaldehyde.