Laminate Flooring Hype
Are your laminate floors a threat to your health? The 60 Minutes episode on March 1, 2015, has our phones ringing off the hook. Homeowners, home buyers, and realtors are suddenly concerned with laminate flooring. Home sellers are wishing they had installed tile. Folks, we have a new public concern which is an old concern to industry professionals such as indoor air quality professionals and flooring manufacturers/distributors. Think Chinese drywall, asbestos, lead paint, tainted Tylenol, arsenic, DDT, dieldrin and a host of other pollutants. Sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease.What is CH2O (formaldehyde)? It is a colorless, strong-smelling gas. It is used in a wide variety of building materials, household products, resins, glues, paints, dishwashing liquids, fabric softeners, medicines, cigarettes and even cosmetics. Remember dissecting the frog/pig in high school biology? Remember the smell – that is where most of us first came into “known” contact with formaldehyde; it is a preservative used to preserve animals and yes, us humans by the mortician. No formaldehyde – no shelf life. It is a low cost, resource-efficient stabilizer we depend upon. Think about having to paint your house every 2-3 years, buying your cosmetics weekly or the need to bury our loved ones the very next day, if not sooner. What are the symptoms of formaldehyde exposure? Sore throat, cough, scratchy eyes, and nosebleed are general signs of exposure. Longer term symptoms such as constricted airways, watering eyes, skin rashes, difficulty with cognitive thinking and even memory loss may occur. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogenic and may cause leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer. What can I do to determine if my laminate flooring contains excessive amounts of formaldehyde? If you still have the box the material came in, identify whether or not it was manufactured in China. Smell it. If you can smell it (think high school biology), you may want to have it tested. What levels are identified as safe? How much does a test cost and who should I call? The typical test involves two air samples and will cost around $400.00 by a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC). We do not recommend the hiring of a home inspector who may advertise sampling for formaldehyde as they are not trained or certified for indoor air consulting. Call us to discuss your concerns or to schedule testing for your peace of mind.