If you’re in the midst of a new construction or renovation project, you may be wondering what products are formaldehyde-free and safe to install. Unfortunately, there isn’t always an obvious answer; you’ll have to check with each manufacturer about the type of adhesives they use.
Here’s a summary of which adhesive options to seek out, and which to avoid:
Standard: Urea Formaldehyde (UF) Adhesives
- These adhesives are used the most often in the manufacture of building materials and furnishings and are the least costly to produce.
- Because formaldehyde is added to these adhesives, they emit the most formaldehyde and pose the biggest threat to indoor air quality.
- UF Adhesives are one of the few products that LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has continued to ban because it does not meet the requirements set out by its Low-Emitting Materials Standard.
Better: No-Added-Urea Formaldehyde (NAUF) Adhesives
- These adhesives contain lower levels of formaldehyde than standard UF adhesives.
- While no formaldehyde is added to NAUF adhesives, they usually still contain phenol or melamine formaldehyde that can be emitted into the indoor environment.
- Because NAUF adhesives emit less formaldehyde than UF adhesives, they still have the potential to help projects quality for LEED Environmental Quality Credits.
Best: No-Added-Formaldehyde (NAF) Adhesives
- These adhesives have the lowest levels of formaldehyde.
- Products made with NAF Adhesives are often soy-based and can easily be substituted for their formaldehyde-containing counterparts in the manufacturing process.
- Designers should note that building materials and furnishings made with NAF adhesives currently contribute to LEED Indoor Environmental Quality Credits.
- These formaldehyde-free adhesives pass all global regulations for formaldehyde emissions.
- NAF adhesives do fall short in one area: price. However, because the markup in price of the final product is usually less than 10 percent, clients like school and hospital administrators are usually willing to pay a little extra for peace of mind.
Want a quick test to see if the materials you’re using are safe? Just ask manufacturers the following three questions. The more questions you can answer “Yes” to, the safer the product is.
- Are the materials made with NAF adhesives?
- Are the materials independently certified as a low volatile organic compound?
- Do the materials meet the California Air Resources Board standards for ultra-low emitting formaldehyde?
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about formaldehyde-emitting materials in your facilities or projects. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800.828.8487.