Red Alert Zone ..............

This page is formed in an ongoing synergetic effort to inform those who desire a more in-depth examination on the mentioned topics:

The below is reference to the subject of chip board, O.S.B. (Oriented strand board), etc.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Formaldehyde (systematic name: methanal) is an organic compound with the formula CH2O. As the simplest aldehyde, it is an important precursor to many other chemical compounds, especially for polymers. In view of its widespread use, toxicity and volatility, exposure to formaldehyde is a significant consideration for human health.

Formaldehyde, the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans 88, Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2006, pp. 39–325, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program, 2005.

Industrial applications

Formaldehyde is a common building block for the synthesis of more complex compounds and materials. In approximate order of decreasing consumption, products generated from formaldehyde include urea formaldehyde resin.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Urea-formaldehyde, also known as urea-methanal, named so for its common synthesis pathway and overall structure These resins are used in adhesivesMedium-density_fibreboard. Urea-formaldehyde It is used to glue oriented strand board together.

Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) started being used in the 1950s. In the 1980s, concerns began to develop about the toxic formaldehyde vapor emittedCuring_(chemistry). Consequently, its use was discontinued.

Several European countries restrict the use of formaldehyde, including the import of formaldehyde-treated products and embalming. Starting September 2007, the European Union banned the use of formaldehyde due to its carcinogenic properties.


Occupational exposure to formaldehyde: Formaldehyde can be toxic, allergenic, and carcinogenic.

Because formaldehyde resins are used in many construction materials, ie. oriented strand board, it is one of the more common indoor air pollutants At concentrations above 0.1 ppm in air formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and mucous membranesMucous_membrane, resulting in watery eyes.

Formaldehyde inhaled at this concentration may cause headaches, a burning sensation in the throat, and difficulty breathing, as well as triggering or aggravating asthma symptoms

The primary exposure concern is for the workers in the industries producing or using formaldehyde. As far back as 1987, the U.S. EPA classified it as a probable human carcinogen and after more studies the Iternational Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in 1995, also classified it as a probable human carcinogen. Further information and evaluation of all known data led the IARC to reclassify formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen,associated with nasal sinus cancer and nasopharyngeal cancer, and possibly with leukemia in June 2004.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has also announced limits on the formaldehyde levels in trailers purchased by that agency. The EPA recommends the use of "exterior-grade" pressed-wood products to limit formaldehyde exposure since pressed-wood products containing formaldehyde resins are often a significant source of formaldehyde in homes.

Formaldehyde can cause allergies and is part of the standard patch test series. People with formaldehyde allergy are advised to avoid formaldehyde

FEMA trailer incidents

Hurricane Katrina & Rita

In the U.S. the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided travel trailers and mobile homes starting in 2006 for habitation by residents of the U.S. gulf coast displaced by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Some of the people who moved into the trailers complained of breathing difficulties, nosebleeds, and persistent headaches. Formaldehyde-catalyzed oriented strand board were used in the production of these homes.

The United States Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) performed indoor air quality testing for formaldehyde in some of the units. On February 14, 2008 the CDC announced that potentially hazardous levels of formaldehyde were found in many of the travel trailers and mobile homes provided by the agency.

The CDC's preliminary evaluation of a scientifically established random sample of 519 travel trailers and mobile homes tested between Dec. 21, 2007 and Jan. 23, 2008 (2+ years after manufacture) showed average levels of formaldehyde in all units of about 77 parts per billion (ppb). Long-term exposure to levels in this range can be linked to an increased risk of cancer and, at levels above this range, there can also be a risk of respiratory illness. These levels are higher than expected in indoor air. FEMA, which requested the testing by the CDC, said it would work aggressively to relocate all residents of the temporary housing as soon as possible. Lawsuits are being filed against FEMA as a result of the exposures.

Iowa Floods of 2008

Also in the U.S., problems arose in trailers again provided by FEMA to residents displaced by the Iowa floods of 2008. A couple months after moving to the trailers, occupants reported violent coughing, headaches, as well as asthma, bronchitis, and other problems. Tests showed that in some trailers, levels of formaldehyde exceeded the limits recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and American Lung Association.[

An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality

Pollutants and Sources of Indoor Air Pollution


Biological Pollutants

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products/oriented strand board products

Lead (Pb)

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)


Radon (Rn)

Respirable Particles

Secondhand Smoke/ Environmental Tobacco


Formaldehyde is an important chemical used widely by industry to manufacture building materials.

Sources of formaldehyde in the home include building materials, as a component of glues and adhesives as in oriented strand board.

In homes, the most significant sources of formaldehyde are likely to be pressed wood products made using adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins. Pressed wood products made for indoor use include: particleboard (used as sub-flooring and shelving and in cabinetry and furniture); hardwood plywood paneling (used for decorative wall covering and used in cabinets and furniture); and medium density fiberboard (used for drawer fronts, cabinets, and furniture tops). Medium density fiberboard, oriented strand board, contains a higher resin-to-wood ratio than any other UF pressed wood product and is generally recognized as being the highest formaldehyde-emitting pressed wood product.

Pressed wood products, such as flake or oriented strand board, are produced for exterior construction use and contain the dark, or red/black-colored phenol-formaldehyde (PF) resin.


Since 1985, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has permitted only the use of plywood that conform to no formaldehyde emission in the construction of prefabricated and mobile homes. In the past, some of these homes had elevated levels of formaldehyde because of the large amount of high-emitting pressed wood products used in their construction.

The rate at which products like pressed wood release formaldehyde can change. Formaldehyde emissions will generally increase as products age. Also when the products are new, high indoor temperatures or humidity can cause increased release of formaldehyde from these products.

During the 1970s, many homeowners had urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) installed in the wall cavities of their homes as an energy conservation measure. However, many of these homes were found to have relatively high indoor concentrations of formaldehyde soon after the UFFI installation. Few homes are now being insulated with this product.

Sources of Formaldehyde

Pressed wood products (particleboard, fiberboard, oriented strand board) and furniture made with these pressed wood products. Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI).

Proposed Rulemaking

Formaldehyde Emissions from Pressed Wood Products

EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides & Toxic Substances has launched an investigation of the potential health risks with formaldehyde emissions from pressed wood products.

Health Effects

Formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas, can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some humans exposed. High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma. There is evidence that some people can develop a sensitivity to formaldehyde. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and cause cancer in humans. Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions.

Levels in Homes

In homes with significant amounts of new pressed wood products, levels can be greater than 0.3 ppm.

Steps to Reduce Exposure

Use "exterior-grade" wood products (lower-emitting because they contain phenol resins, not urea resins and use no oriented strand board).

Ask about the formaldehyde content of pressed wood products, including building materials before you purchase them.

If you experience adverse reactions to formaldehyde, you may want to avoid the use of pressed wood products such as oriented strand board and other formaldehyde-emitting goods. Even if you do not experience such reactions, you may wish to reduce your exposure as much as possible by purchasing exterior-grade non-oriented strand board products, which emit no formaldehyde.

The rate at which formaldehyde is released is accelerated by heat and may also depend somewhat on the humidity level. There maintain a moderate temperature to help reduce formaldehyde emissions.

Additional Resources

Proposed Rulemaking: Formaldehyde Emissions from Pressed Wood Products

On December 3, 2008, EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides & Toxic Substances published in the Federal Register an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) that: describes EPA's initial steps to investigate potential actions to protect against risks posed by formaldehyde emitted from pressed wood products used in manufactured homes and other places.

An Update on Formaldehyde: 1997 Revision (CPSC document #725)

This booklet to tell you about formaldehyde found in the indoor air. This booklet tells you where you may come in contact with formaldehyde, how it may affect your health, and how you might reduce your exposure to formaldehyde.

Hazard Summary-Created in April 1992; Revised in January 2000

Formaldehyde is used mainly to produce resins used in particleboard products such as oriented strand board. Exposure to formaldehyde may occur by breathing contaminated indoor air. Acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) inhalation exposure to formaldehyde in humans can result in respiratory symptoms, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Limited human studies have reported an association between formaldehyde exposure and lung and nasopharyngeal cancer. Animal inhalation studies have reported an increased incidence of nasal squamous cell cancer. EPA considers formaldehyde a probable human carcinogen (Group B1).


One of the most common uses of formaldehyde in the U.S is manufacturing urea-formaldehyde resins, used in particleboard products.

Formaldehyde (as urea formaldehyde foam) was extensively used as an insulating material until 1982 when it was banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Health Hazard Information

Acute Effects:

The major toxic effects caused by acute formaldehyde exposure via inhalation are eye, nose, and throat irritation and effects on the nasal cavity. Other effects seen from exposure to high levels of formaldehyde in humans are coughing, wheezing, chest pains, and bronchitis.

Ingestion exposure to formaldehyde in humans has resulted in corrosion of the gastrointestinal tract and inflammation and ulceration of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach.

Acute animal tests in chickens and rabbits have shown formaldehyde to have high acute toxicity from inhalation, oral, and dermal exposure.

Reproductive/Developmental Effects:

An increased incidence of menstrual disorders were observed in female workers using urea-formaldehyde resins.

Developmental effects, such as birth defects, have been observed in animal studies with formaldehyde.

Cancer Risk:

Occupational studies have noted statistically significant associations between exposure to formaldehyde and increased incidence of lung and nasopharyngeal cancer. This evidence is considered to be," rather sufficient," that may have contributed to the excess cancers.

Animal studies have reported an increased incidence of nasal squamous cell carcinomas by inhalation exposure.

EPA considers formaldehyde to be a human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) and has ranked it in EPA's Group B1.

National Cancer Institute

Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk

Key Points

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials.

Formaldehyde sources in the home include pressed-wood products such as oriented strand board.

When exposed to formaldehyde, some individuals may experience various short-term effects.

Formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Research studies of workers exposed to formaldehyde have suggested an association between formaldehyde exposure and several cancers, including nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia (see Question 5).

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, and certain insulation materials.

How is the general population exposed to formaldehyde?

During the 1970s, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was used in many homes. However, few homes are now insulated with UFFI. Homes in which UFFI was installed many years ago are not likely to have high formaldehyde levels now. Pressed-wood products containing formaldehyde resins are often a significant source of formaldehyde in homes.

How can people limit formaldehyde exposure in their homes?

The EPA recommends the use of "exterior-grade" pressed-wood, non- oriented strand board products to limit formaldehyde exposure in the home. Before purchasing pressed-wood products, including building materials, cabinetry, and furniture, buyers should ask about the formaldehyde content of these products.

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