Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about formaldehyde-free hardwood plywood technology and its connection to air quality? We’re here to help.

About Indoor Air Quality

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a chemical compound with the formula CHOH or CH2O. It is a colorless, pungent gas and common volatile organic compound (VOC). It was first reported by the Russian chemist Aleksandr Butlerov (1828-1886.) Formaldehyde is used as a component in many common products including disinfectants and preservatives, clothing and textiles, plastics and coatings. It is also a by-product of combustion and certain other natural processes. Human beings and plant life actually produce small amounts of formaldehyde on a daily basis!

When reacted with urea it produces a hard thermoset resin. These resins are commonly used in permanent adhesives such as those used in hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium density fiberboard (MDF). Urea formaldehyde can “off-gas” for a period of time after the manufacturing process is complete.

What is a VOC?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a VOC (or Volatile Organic Compound) as any organic compound that participates in a photoreaction. The term may refer both to well characterized organic compounds and to mixtures of variable composition. Volatile Organic Compounds are carbon based chemical compounds, found in thousands of household products that vaporize into a gas at room temperature like paint thinners, cleaning products, carpeting and even room deoderizers . Once inhaled, these toxins can be stored within the body, potentially causing long-term health effects.

What is no added urea formaldehyde (NAUF)?

A term used in the construction industry to describe materials that have no added urea-formaldehyde in the manufacturing process. The term refers specifically to the binders used in composite panel production. Alternative adhesive systems that qualify for the NAUF category would include: Phenol Formaldehyde (PF), Poly vinyl acetate (PVA) and Soy. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has also adopted the no added urea-formaldehyde terminology under the credit EQ 4.4. The popularity of LEED has driven this term into the mainstream as the public becomes more concerned with issues of indoor air quality.

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