It depends. Laminate floors can be toxic if the wood glue and topcoat contain and release harsh compounds like formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is harmful to the health of humans. Therefore, you need to know if the substance content is high.
Although, consumers have forced the industry to make safe laminates, if you suspect there is formaldehyde in your apartment, act fast to do something about it.
What Is Laminate Flooring Made Of?
Laminate floors are designed out of several layers to resemble natural stone or wood—the top layer designed from a high-resolution photo of the chosen effect. The photo is very detailed to look as real as possible.
The top layer is covered with a transparent protective surface that protects it against wear and tear. Some laminate boards are resistant to water and scratch.
The inner core is made of high-density fibreboard, which gives structure to the floor and prevents it from bending or distorting during installation.
Nowadays, the way laminate floorboards are constructed, makes one to easily mistake it for real stone, bamboo, or wooden floors. They are also made so that any renovator can install them without the need to hire a professional floor fitter.
Reasons Laminate Flooring Is Considered Toxic.
The constituents of laminate floors are responsible for its toxicity. Laminate flooring is manufactured from wood adhesives that pose a threat to the health of humans and animals. It comprises dangerous chemicals such as cyanuric acid, melamine resin formaldehyde, isocyanates, and aluminum oxide.The adhesive also consists of different types of formaldehyde;phenol-formaldehyde PF, urea-formaldehydeUF and melamine-formaldehyde MF.
Phenol-formaldehyde (PF) emits a little amount of formaldehyde when compared to the other two. But it’s much more costly, uncommon, and darkish in color. Besides, it requires the highest processing to cure.
Melamine-formaldehyde (MF) is more popular among the three. However, it is known to release more formaldehyde. Nevertheless, the MF satisfies most of the legal requirements and safety standards for flooring.
On the other hand, the urea-formaldehyde (UF) is less complicated to handle. The bad news is that it doesn’t meet the legal requirements for flooring. Hence it has been put aside.
Below are the health issues that can arise as a result of laminated raw materials:
- According to the US National Toxicology Program, formaldehyde is known to cause cancer.
- Aluminum oxide increases the risk of asthma and can reduce human intelligence.
- Isocyanate is a likely carcinogenic agent.
- Research also shows that melamine and cyanuric acid can cause irreversible damages in the kidneys of humans.
- Urea-formaldehyde (UF) releases the most harmful compound or toxins into the atmosphere.
What is formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a colorless, pungent-smelling gas utilized in the manufacture of building materials and many household products. Furthermore, It’s applied in pressed wood items such as plywood, particleboard, adhesives, permanent press fabric; coatings of paper products; and insulation materials. Other chemicals are also made from it.
Also, formaldehyde decomposes quickly in the air (usually within hours). It dissolves easily in water but doesn’t last long, either. When dissolved in water, it forms a product called formalin. This product commonly serves as an industrial disinfectant. Formalin is also widely applied as a preservative in funeral homes and medical laboratories.
Furthermore, It can also be applied as a preservative in foods and products such as antiseptics, medicines, and cosmetics. Sometimes, although formaldehyde is not used, instead, preservative that emits formaldehyde is used. Formalin is found in cleaning agents, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, lotions, and sunscreens,
Formaldehyde can be used to preserve food. However, it can be emitted from smoke during cooking. This strong-smelling compound is also naturally occurring in the environment. Humans and most other living organisms produce little amounts during normal metabolic processes.
Should You Be Worried Of Formaldehyde If Laminate Flooring Is Installed In Your Home?
It is not necessary, as the amount of formaldehyde in the laminate floor, if any, may vary. This equally depends on how the floor is constructed. Formaldehyde is usually present in small amounts. It’s generally less than 0.03 ppm (ppm) in outdoor and indoor air.
Outdoor air in rural areas has a lower amount, while urban areas have higher amounts (due to car exhaust). Apartments or offices that contain products that emit formaldehyde into the air may have levels above 0.03 ppm.
Also, the values of formaldehyde in the indoor air can vary depending on the temperature, humidity, and rate of air exchange indoors. The amount of formaldehyde in your home can also vary depending on the season and days. The concentration can be high on hot and humid days and low on cold and dry days.
In general, over time, household products off-gassed formaldehyde. Hence the level will be reduced.
How to Reduce Formaldehyde in Your Home
The paragraphs below provide relevant tips on how to reduce the level of formaldehyde in your home:
- First, ensure you have your windows open to improve ventilation.
- Ensure you make use of a dehumidifier and air conditioning to lower heat and the moisture level
- It has been shown by science that VOCs like formaldehyde can be absorbed by plants. Hence it’s a good idea to put plants in your rooms to absorb the formaldehyde.
- You should buy a high-quality air cleaner that is mainly manufactured to eliminate formaldehyde from the atmosphere.
7 Non-Toxic Flooring Alternatives
The following floor enumerated below, is an entirely safe choice for your home. Below are examples of formaldehyde-free floors:
Its renewable raw material, which is obtained from the bark of a living tree. It is natural and does not contain formaldehyde.
Tiles are made from naturally occurring materials such as glass, produced synthetically without harming the environment. They are usually manufactured without formaldehyde.
Polished Concrete, Porcelain, and Ceramics
These floors are safe if they don’t contain lead or radioactive materials. Ensure you read the instructions on the manual before you buy it. Nevertheless, they usually do not contain formaldehyde.
This is a great ecological floor without formaldehyde. It has one of the most remarkable properties and the ability to regenerate quickly. Choose this green floor, and you will not have to worry about any toxic substance being released into the air.
Natural carpets do not contain formaldehyde. Get a natural, non-toxic carpet with no chemicals: made from wool, natural latex, and dyes with no molecular insulation, no stain repellents, and non-toxic pads.
Like bamboo, this is another extremely long-lasting floor material. It grows quickly, and more importantly; it’s formaldehyde-free
Real wood is a naturally long-lasting and beautiful floor material. It is inherently stable and free from formaldehyde.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does laminate flooring emit VOCs?
Laminates have a reputation for producing volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into your home. The chemical substances used in the production of laminate floors can quickly evaporate and affect the quality of air in your home.
Can laminate floors make you sick?
It is the adhesion that holds the thin layers of laminate in hardwood floors together. Formaldehyde can be filtered out of products and inhaled in gaseous form. The National Cancer Institute reports that a high concentration of formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose, skin, and throat and lead to some types of cancer.
What are the symptoms of being exposed to formaldehyde?
The presence of formaldehyde in the air at a concentration higher than 0.1 parts per million (ppm) may affect the health of some people. The effects are as follows:
- Burning sensations of the eyes
- Irritation in nose and throat
- Skin irritation
- Watery eyes
How do you check for formaldehyde in laminate flooring?
You should put a sample of your laminate flooring in a chamber at a given temperature and humidity. Formaldehyde will be released into the chamber. Simply collect the air and have it analyzed for formaldehyde content.
How do I get rid of the formaldehyde smell?
You should open the windows and doors in your apartment to improve the flow of air into the affected areas. It is an easy but effective method to reduce formaldehyde levels in the home.
The level of formaldehyde is lowered by increasing the amount of outdoor air. The levels usually decrease, and the odors disappear within a few days.
What does VOC mean in flooring?
VOC stands for Volatile organic compounds. At the same time, flooring VOCs refers to floor’s underlayment and adhesives that release minimal emissions and are not hazardous for those who are in constant contact with them.
Volatile organic compounds are carbon-based and evaporate under high pressure; in large quantities, they can be harmful to you and members of your household.
Laminate floors might be the right choice for you if you are on a budget and want to save even more money by laying the flooring yourself. Few types of floor coverings are more economical or more straightforward to apply than laminate floors. While laminate floors are fully functional and attractive, it can also pose health risks because of dangerous substances like formaldehyde.