Bamboo Flooring and Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde in Bamboo Flooring
Formaldehyde is a chemical compound with the formula H2CO. It is the simplest aldehyde, an organic compound containing a terminal carbonyl group: it consists of one carbonyl. Small amounts of formaldehyde are produced as a metabolic byproduct in most organisms, including humans. Formaldehyde is classified as a V.O.C (Volatile Organic Compound) and is unhealthy in high levels.
Many different industries use formaldehyde because of its useful properties. An aqueous solution of formaldehyde can be useful as a disinfectant as it kills most bacteria and fungi (including their spores). Most formaldehyde is used in the production of polymers and other chemicals. When reacted with phenol, urea, or melamine formaldehyde produces, respectively, hard thermoset phenol formaldehyde resin, urea formaldehyde resin, and melamine resin. These resins are commonly used in permanent adhesives such as those used in plywood or carpeting. Most bamboo flooring is manufactured with adhesives that contain a urea formaldehyde resin. Cheaper or unconcerned bamboo flooring suppliers can have formaldehyde emissions between .2 ppm and .3 ppm (parts per million). Premium bamboo flooring contains virtually no formaldehyde, closer to .01 ppm. European and American Indoor Air Quality recommendations allow for .1 ppm and below.
Some brands claim the use of formaldehyde-free glues and finishes. This is a new process that has not been tested or documented for very long. New tests show that some companies just advertise this and it is, in fact, not true. Also the chemical process of making formaldehyde-free bamboo flooring is dangerous to the workers.
If you are considering bamboo flooring, inquire about VOC and formaldehyde emissions from the specific manufacturer or distributor. VOC and formaldehyde emissions should also be considered when choosing adhesives for glue-down installations, in the surface finishing material, and in the choice of sub floor materials.
For more information about formaldehyde, please visit the¬
Environmental Protection Agency's formaldehyde page.