Frequently Asked Questions about FORMASHIELD™ Formaldehyde- Abatement Technology

About Formaldehyde

Where is formaldehyde used?

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in:

  • Pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood and fiberboard
  • Glues and adhesives
  • Permanent-press fabrics
  • Paper-product coatings
  • Certain insulation materials

In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide and disinfectant. It’s also used as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories. Formaldehyde also occurs naturally in the environment. (U.S. National Cancer Institute)

Why is formaldehyde used?

Formaldehyde, by itself or in combination with other chemicals, serves a number of purposes in manufactured products. For example, it is used:

  • To add permanent-press qualities to clothing and draperies
  • As a component of glues and adhesives
  • As a preservative in some paints and coating products

What are the sources of formaldehyde in a typical home?

In homes, the most significant sources of formaldehyde are likely to be pressed-wood products made using adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins. Pressed-wood products made for indoor use include:

  • Particleboard (used as subflooring and shelving and in cabinetry and furniture)
  • Hardwood plywood paneling (used for decorative wall covering and in cabinetry and furniture)
  • Medium-density fiberboard (used for drawer fronts, cabinetry and furniture tops)

Medium-density fiberboard contains a higher resin-to-wood ratio than any other UF pressed-wood product and is generally recognized as being the highest formaldehyde-emitting pressed-wood product.

How doers formaldehyde exposure affect humans?

Formaldehyde can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing for some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per million). High concentrations may trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma. There is evidence that some people can develop sensitivity to formaldehyde. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. Health effects include:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Wheezing and coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Skin rash
  • Severe allergic reactions

About Indoor Air Quality

Why is indoor air quality a concern?

Maintaining indoor air quality is a growing concern as populations shift to cities, people spend more time indoors, and buildings of all kinds are upgraded with insulation and air sealing methods to improve energy efficiency. Tightening the building envelope generates substantial energy savings, but it also restricts air flow and heat transfer, which can have unintended consequences on indoor air quality, including a buildup of formaldehyde emissions.

Are regulations in place to monitor and/or limit indoor levels of formaldehyde?

China has taken notable measures to regulate formaldehyde emissions, including adoption of the China Building and Construction Industrial Standard JC/T1074-2008 – Purifying Performance of Coatings for Walls with Air Purification. This standard is specific to the testing and rating of formaldehyde-abating paints. It calls for paints in this category to provide formaldehyde-abatement levels of 75% or higher.

In the United States, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has established a standard that applies to formaldehyde emissions from furniture, cabinetry and other household items made with composite wood. The U.S. EPA has proposed this standard for all 50 states.

About FORMASHIELD™ Technology

How does FORMASHIELD™ Technology affect indoor air quality?

FORMASHIELD™ Technology helps improve indoor air quality by removing formaldehyde.

How does FORMASHIELD Technology remove formaldehyde from the air?

When free formaldehyde molecules come into contact with the painted wall, they are absorbed by a functional monomer and broken down via chemical reaction, with harmless vapor as the only by-product.

Are there other ways to abate formaldehyde?

Electronic appliances generate negative ions to remove the formaldehyde from the air. However, this technology has low-removal efficiency. In addition, high negative-ion concentration is harmful to human health and the process requires electricity. In paint, photocatalyst technology may be used to generate radicals to oxidize formaldehyde under UV exposure; however, this approach lacks efficiency due to the low intensity of UV light indoors. Another disadvantage is that the quality of the coating degenerates over time.

How is FORMASHIELD™ Technology different from other abatement methods?

FORMASHIELD™ Technology is a coatings industry first: the technology employs a chemical reaction that is efficient, permanent and leaves no undesirable residual material.

How did you test and validate the formaldehyde- abatement effects of FORMASHIELD™ Technology?

FORMASHIELD™ Technology has been tested in accordance with established standards, such as ISO-16000 and ASTM-D5116. It’s also passed stringent testing protocols and standards outlined in the China Building and Construction Industrial Standard JC/T1074-2008 – Purifying Performance of Coatings for Walls with Air Purification. This is the world’s most rigorous standard for formaldehyde-abating paint. China established it in response to growing concern over the health effects of formaldehyde exposure in homes, schools and other indoor settings. FORMASHIELD™ Technology also has been evaluated in relation to the formaldehyde emissions standard for wood products established by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

How does the performance of FORMASHIELD™ Technology compare to established standards?

Based on data generated by Dow in accordance with international test methods, FORMASHIELD™ Technology is the only binder technology for paint that achieves > 80% efficiency based on China Building and Construction Industrial Standard JC/T1074-2008 – Purifying Performance of Coatings for Walls with Air Purification. As demonstrated in Figure 1, paint with FORMASHIELD™ Binder Technology not only exceeds China’s standard for formaldehyde abatement, but it also does not release any formaldehyde back into the air, as is the case with many commercial acrylic and PVA paints. Testing also demonstrates that FORMASHIELD™ Technology performs favorable in comparison to California emission standards for wood products.