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The Dangers of Formaldehyde in Coating

Ariana Sanchez
February 19, 2014

Formaldehyde, a common chemical used extensively in building materials and typical household products, is nonetheless a dangerous substance with a number of health consequences if badly used. It can be found naturally or as a result of chemical processing, and is something which people definitely need to be aware of when bringing wood into their home environments. While formaldehyde does have practical applications — being used in clothes to create the ‘permanent press’ crease effects in common glues and as a preservative in numerous wood paints and stains as well as coating products — it is generally recommended to avoid products with a formaldehyde content.

For most people, their exposure to higher levels of formaldehyde in a domestic setting would come from pressed wood products and softwood strand board. Pressed woods, like particle boards and plywood, use formaldehyde adhesives in their construction; medium density fibreboard, commonly known as MDF, is known to be the product with the highest amount of formaldehyde emission of all the pressed wood options but is still commonly used for amateur DIY projects. Outside and in the garden, a number of the deck coatings, paints, and stains commonly available are known to contain formaldehyde. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the problems that it can cause. In some cases of sensitivity, formaldehyde causes the eyes to water and creates a burning, stinging in the sinuses and throat. Others experience nausea, and those with asthma have found that formaldehyde exposure can trigger an attack. More worryingly, studies have shown that there is a link between formaldehyde and cancer in testing on animals, meaning there could also be a link in human cases.

It can be difficult to identify products which contain formaldehyde, especially when it comes to restoring or recoating a decking where there are an enormous range of options available. The best solution for most people is to call on the services of a professional company and discuss low-fume coatings and their expert opinion regarding the best treatments to use, or simply just hire a professional deck contractor for your convenience!