Are your wood cabinets making you sick?
Formaldehyde is a mucous membrane (eye, nose, throat) irritant, and some people develop allergic sensitivities to formaldehyde and other VOC’s. The most common formaldehyde emitting items are kitchen cabinets and built-in cabinetry which are fabricated from medium density fiberboard (MDF). Formaldehyde is also used in automobile upholstery, foams, sealants, and blown in UFFI insulation.
There is no one standard that is generally accepted as the “safe” level for formaldehyde vapor concentrations. The National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is a division of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and is responsible for providing scientific advice to OSHA, has established a recommended exposure limit (REL) of 0.016 ppm or 16 ppb. California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has established a chronic reference exposure level (REL) of 7.3 ppb, citing that people chronically exposed to formaldehyde may experience respiratory system effects, including asthma and chronic bronchitis as well as severe headaches, sleep disorders, and nausea.Testing can be performed to determine the concentration levels of formaldehyde vapors in indoor air.
As of June 1, 2018, and until March 22, 2019, composite wood products sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States were required to be labeled as CARB ATCM Phase II or TSCA Title VI compliant. After March 22, 2019, composite wood products must be labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant. These products include: hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard, as well as household and other finished goods containing these products.
By including provisions for laminated products, product-testing requirements, labeling, recordkeeping, and import certification, the final rule ensures that hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard products sold, supplied, offered for sale, imported to, or manufactured in the United States are in compliance with the emission standards.
The final rule also established a third-party certification program for laboratory testing and oversight of formaldehyde emissions from manufactured and/or imported composite wood products.