Wood 🪵, Particleboard, Formaldehyde, and “Compliance” Labeling

America is one of the few places on the planet that allow formaldehyde in the glue of their wood products. It’s even illegal to SELL in China. Many things are made there and imported here. It’s in most furniture, cribs, sofas, picture frames, flooring, etc., slowly sleeping out.

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High exposure levels could increase your lifetime risk of getting cancer, with an anticipated 6 to 30 extra cases for every 100,000 people per year.

Most fiberboard, particle board (compressed sawdust), and “medium-density fiberboard” (MDF) contain higher levels of formaldehyde due to glue ingredients. MDF looks like real wood cut straight from a tree, but is actually recycled pieces of wood pressed together with adhesive under conditions of high temperature and heat.

What do those for formaldehyde compliant stickers mean?

Some people misunderstand the stickers to mean that the item doesn’t contain formaldehyde, but it means they definitely do. “Compliant” means that it complies with the *limits* on formaldehyde.

The EPA Toxic Substances Chemical Act (TSCA) and the California Air Resources Board limits are currently the same. Items have to be third party lab tested, but the limits are still relatively high. Phase 1 standards were lower than phase 2, but phase 1 was only allowed to be sold through 2013.

I recommend avoiding all types of particle board, fiberboard, and MDF. Solid wood is the best way to go. A money saving tip is that some retailers, such as IKEA, sell some furniture items that are mostly wood but have a backboard made of particleboard. You can either omit that piece or replace with real wood. Affiliate link to solid wood toy: https://amzn.to/3tTWxbT





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