Bamboo Flooring and Formaldehyde
Most of the higher quality bamboo floor brands (Ambient, Teragren
and Plyboo to name a few) meet the very tough CARB Phase II and NAUF standards (No Added Urea Formaldehyde). In general strand babmoo floors
are pefectly safe if test results show less than .05 ppm and they probably off-gas even less than your wood dining room table or wood office desk.
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 phenol-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, at levels below .05 ppm. European and American Indoor Air Quality
recommendations allow for .1 ppm and below. The most stringent formaldehyde standard in the U.S. is currently CARB Phase 2.
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.