Formaldehyde in Furniture Products
Why am I being warned about potential exposure to formaldehyde in furniture products?
What is formaldehyde?
- Formaldehyde is a colorless and flammable gas with a strong smell. It is released into the air from some furniture products.
How does exposure to formaldehyde (gas) from furniture products occur?
- Exposure occurs by breathing air that contains formaldehyde.
- Formaldehyde is released into the air from furniture products made with formaldehyde‑containing resins, paints, lacquers, and other coatings.
How can I reduce my exposure to formaldehyde (gas) from furniture products?
Remove or reduce existing sources of formaldehyde and avoid adding new sources.
- Formaldehyde-free furniture, such as solid wood and stainless steel.
- Furniture with lower formaldehyde gas-emission labels. These can include:
- “Exterior grade” pressed wood.
- California Air Resources Board (CARB) Phase 2 criteria.
- Ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde (ULEF).
- No-added formaldehyde (NAF).
- Avoid furniture made with urea-formaldehyde resins that does not carry a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Phase 2 compliant label.
- Air out new furniture made from composite wood products containing formaldehyde, preferably away from the home and in a well-ventilated area. The area must have fresh air passing through it, or formaldehyde will not be removed.
- Consider asking the manufacturer or store to leave the furniture unsealed in the warehouse for a few days before delivery.
- If furniture made from composite wood containing formaldehyde is the only available option, consider looking for used items, because release of formaldehyde gas from composite wood decreases over time.
- Apply a surface barrier (for example, latex-based paints or formaldehyde-free varnishes) onto formaldehyde-containing furniture.
- Assure adequate ventilation and open windows and doors regularly to bring in outdoor air.
- Maintain low humidity and temperatures. More formaldehyde is released when it is hot and damp.
For more information:
General Formaldehyde Fact Sheets and Resources:
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- National Cancer Institute (NCI)
- California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)
Formaldehyde in Products:
- Formaldehyde (gas)
- Furniture Products