Detecting & Reducing Formaldehyde Levels in the Home

Posted on December 11, 2013 in Blog

H2 Environmental can help homeowners detect & reduce harmful levels of formaldehyde

indoor air qualityMost people associate formaldehyde with science or medical research labs where it is used to preserve tissue samples. You might be surprised and upset to discover that this chemical can also be found in your home. A variety of pressed wood products can release formaldehyde in gas form, and as this gas accumulates you may find your family members experiencing symptoms ranging from eye, nose, and throat irritation to asthma attacks, headaches, or severe allergic reactions. There is even speculation that formaldehyde exposure can cause cancer—it has done so in animal studies. Fortunately, you can detect and reduce formaldehyde levels in the home with help from H2 Environmental.

Detecting Formaldehyde

While there are home formaldehyde testing kits available for consumers to use on your own, you will get a more accurate result if you engage a professional indoor air quality specialist to conduct the air sampling and testing. Professionals may have access to technologies that you wouldn’t be able to utilize on your own, and their expertise will be necessary in order to properly interpret the results of the testing and make sure any complicating factors are accounted for.

Identifying Sources of Formaldehyde

A professional from H2 Environmental can also help look for common sources of formaldehyde emissions. These may include pressed wood products, wood floor finishes, and certain wallpapers and paints. Formaldehyde can also be released during the combustion of cigarettes, kerosene, gasoline, and wood. The chemical reactions between ozone and certain VOCs that may occur during the operation of computers, laser printers, and photocopiers are another potential source of formaldehyde.

Reducing Formaldehyde Levels

Formaldehyde is naturally present in low concentrations in both indoor and outdoor air, but when concentrations exceed 0.03 ppm, this is considered a problem. If your formaldehyde levels are above this threshold, H2 Environmental can help you create a remediation plan. This plan will probably include a combination of the following tactics:

  • Remove formaldehyde-emitting items from your home
  • Seal the surfaces of formaldehyde-emitting items (this is problematic because you must be sure the sealant does not contain formaldehyde or other VOCs)
  • Replace formaldehyde-emitting pressed wood furniture, flooring, or paneling with composites rated Ultra Low Emission Formaldehyde (ULEF) or No Added Formaldehyde (NAF).
  • Improve home ventilation to allow emissions to dissipate naturally to safe levels
  • Avoid high indoor temperatures as emissions increase when temperatures rise
  • Keep indoor humidity between 40 and 50 percent, as high humidity increases emission rates