Formaldehyde Screening and Testing Methods Used In Home

When formaldehyde screening and testing is performed, it is very critical that a qualified indoor air quality expert handle the procedure.

All methods of formaldehyde screening or testing have potential problems with accuracy, due to issues involving calibration, accurate use of the method by the person obtaining the sample, proper implementation of procedures by the laboratory to which the sample is submitted, etc.  Sample results that are inaccurate may lead a person to make decisions that may not be in the best interests of the family’s health, or conversely, may result in costly removal of flooring when it may not be necessary.

For over 20 years, Indoor Environmental Technologies (IET) has been using the Drager method as our primary on-site formaldehyde screening tool. The use of extension tubesformaldehyde screening allow us to detect the presence of formaldehyde to around 0.03 ppm as indicated by any breakthrough in the color metric sampling tube.  It has been our experience that four out of five homes we sample demonstrate no detectable levels of formaldehyde.  Those that do are usually newer homes or have been recently remodeled with formaldehyde containing materials, such as some laminate flooring.  These homes usually do not have mechanical ventilation incorporated into their HVAC systems.

Whether laminate flooring is compliant with CARB2 can be determined by sending a bulk formaldehyde sample to a laboratory that uses ASTM E 1333-96(2002) testing methods.  IET can arrange for this.

There are a wide variety of formaldehyde test methods used to determine concentrations in the indoor air of a home:

  • Passive badge monitors that are exposed for a designated time, then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
  • Sorbent tubes that use essentially the same approach, only with measured amounts of air pulled through the tube by a pump. IET’s sampling methods using calibrated pumps require a six to twenty four hour sampling period and are analyzed by an independent laboratory for total volatile organic compounds (TVOC’s) and aldehydes, formaldehyde being one of those VOCs.  They are interpreted in our reports with recommendations based on the observed and reported conditions.
  • Instant reading meters.
  • Graduated colorimetric sorbent tubes, the method IET is presently using.

Contact IET to discuss further or to schedule formaldehyde screening or testing,

Next article: What to do if excessive formaldehyde is found

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