VOC or “volatile organic compounds” include a variety of chemicals that are emitted as gases from certain liquids and solids. Products that emit VOC include paints, paint strippers, lacquers, pesticides, cleaning supplies, furnishings, wood floorings, building materials and household products. Volatile organic compounds can create health hazards, some of which may have long-term adverse effects on one’s health. Formaldehyde is a VOC that is widely used in adhesives.
There is a long list of personal care as well as processed wood products that contain small amounts of formaldehyde in their formulation. Formaldehyde is a chemical compound that is synthesized for industrial use in products like siding, furniture and flooring. Moreover, it is also used as an important constituent of adhesive products and as a preservative. Formaldehyde consists of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen and it also occurs naturally. However, exposure to formaldehyde for indefinite periods of time may make one vulnerable to numerous health conditions particularly breathing problem.
There is a variety of possible reactions to formaldehyde that may affect an individual. Symptoms include respiratory difficulties like coughing and wheezing, eye, nose and throat irritation, other allergic reactions like itching and redness of skin, fatigue, skin rashes and headaches. Formaldehyde is also reported to increase the risk of asthma and different types of cancer particularly lung cancer.
Formaldehyde emissions decrease over time and the maximum exposure occurs when the wood product is newly installed. Another good thing about formaldehyde is that it doesn’t accumulate in the fat cells over time and bad effects of this chemical compound often vanish with the passage of time.
In fact, nearly all hardwood floorings require adhesives to bind and seal the different layers of wood veneers or particles. These adhesives contain urea-formaldehyde resin in their composition. All urea-formaldehyde adhesives emit formaldehyde gas into your home or office. Even most of the ecologically friendly products are manufactured with this adhesive and they can emit as much as 0.237 ppm (part per million) formaldehyde into atmosphere. Therefore, make sure that you get all the facts before buying processed wood products especially bamboo flooring.
There are numerous formaldehyde ratings recommended by different countries. European test methodology measures the formaldehyde levels inside the wood specimen. Ratings include E0, E1, E2 and E3. E0 measures 0.5mg per litre and below, E1 measures formaldehyde 9mg/100g and below, E2 measures greater than 9mg/100g and below 30mg/100g and E3 measures greater than 30mg/100g formaldehyde content within the hardwood flooring.
A two-phase plan released by the California Air Regulatory Board (CARB) of the United States calls for compliance on emissions levels in MDF, thin MDF, particleboard and hardwood plywood. CARB research suggests that composite wood products account for up to 5% of formaldehyde emissions into air. The Phase 1 of the CARB plan suggested that formaldehyde emissions from personal care, household and processed wood products should be equal to or less than 0.08 ppm. Phase 2 already in effect from January 1, 2010 requires that formaldehyde emissions from adhesives should be even lower than 0.05 ppm. The Phase 2 plan is of a higher standard than that of E0 European rating.
Formaldehyde emissions ratings are also defined by Japan. The Japanese JIS/JAS Formaldehyde Adhesive Emission Standards assign rating in four categories, F*, F**, F***, and F****. The category that suggests the lowest level of formaldehyde emissions below 0.03 ppm is F****.
Simply Bamboo is a Bamboo flooring company in Perth, Western Australia that manufactures three styles of Bamboo flooring: Horizontal, Vertical and Strand Woven (or Compressed Bamboo Flooring) Bamboo flooring.
Its proprietary manufacturing adhesives emit just 0.02 ppm into atmosphere, which is far less than allowable by all world standards, including Californian CARB Phase 1 and Phase 2, Japanese JIS/JAS, Australian Standard, U.S.OSHA, E0, and German emissions standard.
We breathe formaldehyde at “naturally occurring” background levels of about 0.03 ppm . Therefore at 0.02ppm Simply Bamboo’s furniture and Bamboo flooring emission is effectively a zero emission limit, and as such would be highly unlikely to affect one’s health or well-being.