Laminate Flooring Formaldehyde

Laminate Flooring Formaldehyde

Do you love the look of your laminate wood flooring, but worry it’s a health hazard? You’re not alone. The Environmental Protection Agency, along with some other state health agencies, is examining formaldehyde content in composite wood flooring to set guidelines for emission standards. The agency says it will release new rules later this year. Currently, the best information consumers have to guide them when buying composite wood products are standards set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The state’s clean air agency requires certain laminate products to comply with its standards limiting formaldehyde emissions. There are no formaldehyde emissions standards for the laminate product itself. A number of studies have found elevated levels of formaldehyde emissions in homes. However, most consumers weren’t concerned about potential exposure to the cancer-causing chemical from composite wood flooring until “60 minutes” reported its investigations found elevated levels of formaldehyde in some laminate wood flooring imported from China that was sold by discount flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators. The company disputes the report and says its flooring is safe. It has also offered to pay to test the air quality in the homes of customers who purchased the product. The EPA says consumers who have laminate flooring in their homes shouldn’t necessarily be concerned because formaldehyde is present in many consumer products, including cabinets, wall finishes and it’s released when consumers use their gas stoves and wood burning fireplaces. Nonetheless, following these tips from the EPA and health care experts can help you guard your home and health against formaldehyde emissions. Related Article 4 Unusual Sources of Lead in Your HomePeeling paint isn't the only place you'll find lead in your home. Understand the health risksAccording to the Consumer Product and Safety Commission, formaldehyde is a colorless reactive gas used in many consumer products including hair and fingernail products, flooring and furniture. Acute exposure to formaldehyde can cause coughing, wheezing, and asthma-like symptoms, says Dr. Genevieve Brauning, a family practitioner with Novant Health in Charlotte, North Carolina. She says long-term exposure to low levels would be most likely to cause asthma-like respiratory problems or skin rash. “There are rarer reports that long-term, low-level exposure can cause headaches, fatigue, and changes in sleep patterns,” Brauning says. Don’t ignore symptomsEye, nose and throat irritation are common ailments among allergy sufferers. But these symptoms may signal exposure to formaldehyde. If the symptoms are new to you and you believe exposure to formaldehyde is causing these or other respiratory problems, Brauning says to avoid the area for a few days and see if the symptoms resolve. “This does not necessarily mean that allergy-like symptoms are from formaldehyde, she says. “However, you may look at allergens, including formaldehyde in your home. If you stay at your friend’s house down the street and you feel totally better, it would be less likely from seasonal allergies or spring trees blooming.” Related Article Lead Paint Safety: What You Need to Know Lead paint exposure can occur during home renovation. Protect your family by knowing whether your contractor is EPA lead-certified and what to ask before hiring. Know when exposure risks are highestLaminate flooring that is a hardwood plywood, or is made by attaching a wood veneer with formaldehyde-based resin to a composite wood platform, are subject to the EPA’s proposed regulations. People who make products containing formaldehyde or use the products regularly in their work are more vulnerable to overexposure. That’s why more regulation exists for businesses that work regularly with formaldehyde-based products. The EPA says formaldehyde emissions are highest when products are new. Because emissions dissipate over time, the agency says the older the floor installation, for example, the lower the levels of formaldehyde it will likely emit.  Buy with careEnvironmental health experts say it behooves you to know what’s in the product you use in and around your home to lower your exposure to hazards like formaldehyde, lead and asbestos. Until the national formaldehyde emissions standards for composite flooring are issued, the EPA recommends you look for products that are labeled or stamped in compliance with CARB’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) or those that meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. Related Article Is Your Home Hazardous to Your Health? Mold, radon, lead or asbestos may be hiding in your home and making you sick. Learn how to protect yourself. Air it outIt’s hard to avoid bringing any formaldehyde-based products into your home. However, you’re less likely to get skin, nose, throat and lung irritation if you have less concentration of it in your air, Brauning says. “Having good ventilation or using a mask can be helpful. People should remember that many people tolerate low levels, such as brief exposure to nail polish, without any symptoms at all,” she says.
laminate flooring formaldehyde 1

Laminate Flooring Formaldehyde

What You Should Do We’ve prepared this Q&A to help inform your decisions about what kind of flooring to install, and what to do about existing materials and products in your homes. We have also published Ratings of prefinished solid-wood, vinyl, and tile floors; all are better choices when it comes to formaldehyde emissions. Is there a safe level of formaldehyde? On July 27, the federal Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule to reduce exposure to formaldehyde vapors from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into the U.S. The standards take effect a year after being published in the Federal Register. The agency worked with the California Air Resources Board to help ensure the final national rule is consistent with California requirements for composite wood products. Consumer Reports agrees with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s cancer risk estimate, which is based on the CPSC’s testing of laminate flooring. But we believe that the federal formaldehyde emission rate should be established at 2 micrograms per square meter per hour. At that level, the formaldehyde emitted by flooring would not significantly raise the background level of formaldehyde in a home or increase cancer risk to adults. Should I avoid engineered-wood and laminate flooring altogether? Prefinished solid-wood flooring seems to be a better choice than engineered wood or laminate, according to our small test sample. The prefinished solid-wood flooring had consistently lower formaldehyde emissions—near or less than our level of concern—than the widely variable levels we found from the engineered-wood and laminate flooring we tested. Do product certifications matter? When it comes to formaldehyde, not as much as you might expect. Certification labels Greenguard Gold and FloorScore use formaldehyde levels of 9 micrograms per cubic meter (modeled in office settings) as their threshold. Based on our estimates, that’s almost 10 times as high as what we think it should be. I just had one of these types of floors put in. What should I do? Formaldehyde is a volatile chemical and will off-gas over time, but our tests show that those rates are variable, too. There are ways to reduce formaldehyde exposure if you have new floors or any other new composite wood product (see “6 Safety Steps,” below). How do I get the flooring I bought at Lumber Liquidators tested? Lumber Liquidators’ recall-to-test program involves only laminate flooring the company sourced from China and sold between February 2012 and May 2015, when the company stopped selling it. If you have that flooring, call 800-366-4204 or go to lumberliquidators.com/ll/testkit to request a free testing kit. Emissions of 0.080 parts per million or higher, based on WHO guidelines, will trigger more plank testing and, if necessary, an in-home exam by a certified industrial hygienist paid for by Lumber Liquidators. According to the company, and confirmed by the CPSC, more than 17,000 air tests have already been performed, leading to 1,300 planks being tested. None have come back above the WHO standard. I’ve had one of these floors in my home for years. Do I still need to worry about this? Probably not. According to a recent report cited by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “If the flooring was installed several years ago, the levels of formaldehyde may have returned to what is typically found in homes—so there may be no reason to remove it.” We looked at formaldehyde decay levels in a few samples over the course of eight to nine months. Some emission levels dropped considerably over that time; others didn’t. At what point should I consider home testing? If chemical odors are strong, you have trouble breathing, or you experience irritation only when at home, consider getting your home tested. Just be aware that results are rarely clear-cut. Do-it-yourself test kits are available, but the Environmental Protection Agency has neither tested nor verified their accuracy. Even a highly precise in-home test could give misleading results—from false positives to even missing an existing problem—warns the American Industrial Hygiene Association. And experts say that even expensive and extensive testing might not identify specific sources of formaldehyde. What does the industry advise consumers to do about these types of floors if they’re already installed? The National Wood Flooring Association and the North American Laminate Flooring Association say consumers should research the brand and model of existing flooring to make sure they comply with California Air Resources Board standards. (NALFA-certified laminate floors pass that test.) A flooring professional should be able to help do the research. And if someone in your household tends to be sicker at home than when away, consider hiring a pro to analyze the overall indoor air, not just the formaldehyde. Mold or other allergens could be the cause. Which types of products emit formaldehyde? In addition to some flooring, sources of formaldehyde can include permanent-press fabrics, wallpaper, plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard, and other pressed-wood products that some furniture, cabinets, and paneling are made of. Glues, paint, caulk, pesticides, cosmetics, detergents, and some insulation give off formaldehyde. And smoke from tobacco, gas stoves, and fireplaces also releases it.

Laminate Flooring Formaldehyde

Laminate Flooring Formaldehyde
Laminate Flooring Formaldehyde
Laminate Flooring Formaldehyde
Laminate Flooring Formaldehyde
Laminate Flooring Formaldehyde

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