Unsafe Levels of Formaldehyde in New Homes

December 16, 2009

AsthmaBeing green means saving energy.  However, being green also means staying healthy.  A study released today indicates those two goals may be at odds with each other in new homes.

Today the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a study of indoor air quality in new homes.  The report found that new homes have too little ventilation and too much formaldehyde.

Ventilation in the majority of homes did not meet code. 

The median 24hour outdoor air exchange rate was 0.26 air changes per hour; 67 percent of the homes were below the California building code requirement of 0.35 air changes per hour…


Inadequate ventilation causes formaldehyde to concentrate inside homes.  All homes in the study had unsafe levels of formaldehyde.


Nearly all homes had formaldehyde concentrations that exceeded guidelines for cancer and chronic irritation, while 59 percent exceeded guidelines for acute irritation.


Formaldehyde causes asthma, bronchitis, sinus infections, and headaches.  Formaldehyde is also a carcinogen, and it has been linked to leukemia.


Testing is the only way to know the formaldehyde concentration in a home.  Test badges cost as little at $40 each, including laboratory analysis.  An industrial hygienist can locate materials that emit formaldehyde.



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