Can I buy a formaldehyde free kitchen cabinet? It seems the answer is no.
But what is formaldehyde and should we be concerned about it?
Back in 2006, I was asked just that question and as I did not have a clue what formaldehyde in cabinetry was, my research has been a revelation.
The customer asking the question was the Buying Agent for a Japanese company where more or less all MDF and VOC related products were classed as not environmentally friendly. They ordered a solid wood kitchen, and we supplied them with kitchen and bathroom cabinets, for many years.
Formaldehyde is a chemical compound which is naturally produced in all life forms. Most household products will therefore emit varying levels of formaldehyde, solid wood usually emits less than 0.003ppm (parts per million) and is harmless at this level. Long term exposure to higher levels of formaldehyde can cause respiratory problems, and other health issues, and to some it may be carcinogen.
VOC is a volatile organic compound (formaldehyde), meaning that it becomes a gas at room temperature, VOCs from paint & lacquers dissipate fairly quickly with most off-gassing occurring during the first 6 months after application, particle board (MDF & Chipboard) may continue to off-gas for 20 years or more.
MDF is a medium density fibreboard (particle board), made of wood fibres, combined with wax and a resin binder. The resin binder (adhesive) creates the higher levels of formaldehyde.
In parts of Europe, America & Australia they cannot sell MDF without a health-warning label as it can release a high amount of formaldehyde, (from 1st June 2018 products with high levels of VOC are banned in some countries).
We recently supplied an interior designer with a kitchen for a client with an allergy to formaldehyde, using 100% solid wood, low VOC paints, lacquers and formaldehyde free adhesives, this dramatically reduced the amount of formaldehyde gases released, to give the client an acceptable healthy environment.
Since then all our cabinetry is manufactured with solid pine, we never use MDF or chipboard, we also use formaldehyde free glue and take care in reducing emissions where we can, some of our customers with allergies, choose to paint & lacquer their cabinets with VOC free products.
As formaldehyde occurs naturally, it cannot be avoided, maybe an increase in allergies are a warning that we are starting to be less tolerate of the higher levels we inflict on our bodies? we might be healthier and breathe more easily if we greatly reduce the formaldehyde added to products around us?
For more information on our low emission cabinets, contact our Head Office.