Your wood flooring might be making you sick and you don’t even know it!
Formaldehyde is a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) and is the noxious/poisonous/carcinogenic/really bad gas that has been in the flooring “news” for the past six months or so because of Lumber Liquidators. It is a naturally occurring compound present in the atmosphere in trace background levels even when there are no “emitting materials” around. If that’s not ubiquitous enough, it was the first multi-atom organic molecule detected in interstellar space.
Why is it used in the manufacturing of flooring, i.e. engineered flooring, and other wood construction materials? Formaldehyde is used in the manufacturing of resins … resins that are then used to INEXPENSIVELY bind wood layers, in the case of the plywood backer used to make engineered flooring. I say “inexpensively” because better grades of plywood are certified as no-VOC/non-emitting. There is a market and legitimate applications for these low-end materials, but not in enclosed spaces with people and/or animals. Most governments have enacted trade barriers to the entry of products that off-gas formaldehyde. But the products, through large-scale fraud, still find their way into countries with even the most stringent of laws. And that brings me back to flooring and Lumber Liquidators. Why would someone/a company take a chance of injuring or killing people, and then being fined and going to jail after being caught? I did mention formaldehyde made plywood inexpensive to manufacture and the corollary is that it makes those products HUGELY profitable. So, “greed” is the answer to why.
But even at the low levels allowable by law, people with sensitivity to VOCs can get headaches or worse. One way to avoid the introduction of any VOCs into one’s home or work space is to avoid engineered flooring and to use solid wood. For those people and anyone with larger concerns about our environment and planet, reclaimed wood flooring nicely addresses those larger concerns.