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Indoor Air Nerd | The World's Best Indoor Air Quality Blog

Formaldehyde in Flooring

Laminate FlooringFormaldehyde in wood flooring has been a huge topic as of late. The TV program 60 Minutes had reported that flooring superstore Lumber Liquidators has been producing and selling wood flooring advertised as being compliant with Phase 2 of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulation “California 93120 Compliant for Formaldehyde” when in fact the program has found that it is not compliant. In order to comply with CARB Phase 2, wood flooring made with MDF (medium-density fiberboard) needs to have under 0.11 ppm of formaldehyde emissions. Formaldehyde is used in the glues which hold the fiberboard “core” of laminate flooring together.

60 Minutes reported that only 1 out of 31 samples of Lumber Liquidators’ flooring from 5 states was CARB Phase 2 compliant (Click here to download raw data). The report also referenced another independent study of laminate flooring purchased from Lumber Liquidators in California.  Lumber Liquidators’ American made flooring was compliant, but their Chinese made products were not. Some samples were over 20x the limit!

How many homes have Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring? While there are no official numbers, the 60 Minutes report estimated that there are 10,000+ in California, and potentially 100,000+ in the USA!

On a federal level, the EPA is still working on formaldehyde regulations.  In 2010, the federal government enacted the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act. The EPA was supposed to have its final rule in place by January 1, 2013, but now the best guess is September 2015. It is expected that this federal regulation will mirror the CARB Phase 2 standard. Many people are calling for immediate action.

Formaldehyde can come from other sources as well. It can be found in paints, insulation, paper products, and cigarette smoke. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause symptoms such as nosebleeds, cough, itchy eyes, and sore throat. People with asthma, bronchitis, or are pregnant can be more at risk to having effects from formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, particularly for causing cancer of the nose and throat.

Do you have questions about formaldehyde?  Post a question in the comments section and I’ll try to respond quickly.

If you live in the Chicago area and would like for my company to test formaldehyde in your home, please visit: Formaldehyde Testing Chicago.


Sewer Gas- Part 1 – An IAQA Tech Tip Video

The basics of sewer gas odors are covered in this Tech Tip video from the IAQA (http://iaqa.org). The video addresses the constituents of sewer gas, its health effects and common causes indoors.
If you cannot view the video above go to: http://youtu.be/3AcmIpNz39E

NIEHS- Environmental Agent Pages

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the December 2014 newsletter.

I was recently doing some research on endocrine disruptors and I came across a page on the NIEHS website.  It provided a nice summary and dozens of useful links.  As I dug around more on their website, I realized they have great summaries and useful links for several indoor air quality contaminants.

Who is the NIEHS?  According to their website, The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is one of 27 research institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mission of the NIEHS is to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives.

Here are some links to environmental agents that have dedicated pages:

To see all the environmental agents, visit this month’s featured website: NIEHS Environmental Agents.

To subscribe to this newsletter click the following link: IAQ Website of the Month.

Fireplaces – An IAQA Tech Tip Video

If you cannot view the video above go to:http://youtu.be/Q12pE291-oA

Excellent Industrial Hygiene Blog

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the April 2014 newsletter.

Each month I try to feature a website with broad appeal to our 4,000+ subscribers.  Although this month’s website has a more narrow focus and covers an advanced topic, I think you will thoroughly enjoy it.

The blog is titled, “Human Health Risk Assessment to Chemicals” and it is written by Mike Jayjock.  The blog is based on the principle that an occupational risk cannot be managed unless it is properly assessed.

Mr. Jayjock’s blog has a special focus on computer modeling to better assess risks.  For example, if you measure chemical exposures on a random day and the results are very close to exceeding a permissible exposure limit (PEL), what are the odds that the exposure will exceed the PEL on some other day?

Here are some blog posts that might interest you:

To visit this month’s featured website, click here: Human Health Risk Assessment to Chemicals.

To subscribe to this newsletter click the following link: IAQ Website of the Month.

Lead Paint – An IAQA Tech Tip Video

Although the heavy metal “lead” can be found in many different products at varying concentrations, it’s presence in paint prior to 1978 poses the greatest impact on indoor air quality, even today. Learn about lead-based paint in this video, including its affect on health- especially of children.
If you cannot view the video above go to: http://youtu.be/grJPdkRngFQ

Semi Volatile Organic Compounds – An IAQA Tech Tip Video

Semi volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) may not be as well known as more ordinary VOCs, but they include many pesticides and plasticizers. In this video you’ll learn that SVOCs are common, deleterious to health and difficult to measure.
If you cannot view the video above go to: http://youtu.be/F6KsCexg5qQ

Position Statements & White Papers

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the March 2014 newsletter.

“Gray areas” seem to have a home in the field of indoor air quality. Pick any contentious topic and one could argue both sides with equal fervor. Where can you turn to get a balanced view?

One resource is the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).  They have developed over 30 position statements and white papers on a wide range of topics, many applicable to indoor air quality.

Position statements and white papers are typically developed by an AIHA technical committee and approved by their board of directors.  Although they may not hold as much weight as a consensus-based ANSI standard, they are to be highly regarded due to the stature and reputation of AIHA.

I thought the following documents might interest you:

To view a list of all 30+ documents, visit this month’s featured website: AIHA Position Statements and White Papers.

To subscribe to this newsletter click the following link: IAQ Website of the Month.

Attached Garages – An IAQA Tech Tip Video

In this IAQA Tech Tip video, you’ll learn 5 quick tips on minimizing the air quality impact of attached garages.
If you cannot view the video above go to: http://youtu.be/SvXRYg4kYiI

Environmental Allergens

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the February 2014 newsletter.

Sometimes I feel sorry for dust mites. How would you like it if your picture was used to sell vacuums, filters and carpet cleaning services? Does vacuuming and air cleaning even control dust mites?

This month’s featured website is an authoritative resource for all things related to environmental allergens.  The site is called Allergy Practice Parameters and comes from a joint task force of AAAAIACAAI.  The joint task force develops Practice Parameters, which are to be used by practicing physicians.  It can be time consuming to wade through all the new research and marketing propaganda to figure out the current state of the art.  The practice parameters act as a collective review of relevant and evidence-based information.

Currently there are four practice parameters on environmental allergy:

What I love about these practice parameters is that they have a scale for strength of evidence and strength of recommendation. Back to our question about vacuuming and air cleaning for dust mites. The following are found in the Dust Mite Allergy Practice Parameter:

  • Recommend regular vacuuming using cleaners that have high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration… [Recommendation: Strong]
  • HEPA filtration alone is of uncertain benefit for patients with mite allergy… [Recommendation: Weak]

I recommend you read the whole practice parameter to get the full context of these sound bites.

To visit this month’s featured website, visit: AAAAI/ACAAI Allergy Practice Parameters 

To subscribe to this newsletter click the following link: IAQ Website of the Month.

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