Being green means saving energy. However, being green also means staying healthy. A study released indicates those two goals may be at odds with each other in new homes. The California study of new, energy efficient homes, indicated 98% had toxic levels of formaldehyde.
Link to Report http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/apr/past/04-310.pdf
The OSHA Formaldehyde standard (29 CFR1910.1048) and equivalent regulations in states with OSHA-approved state plans protects workers exposed to formaldehyde and apply to all occupational exposures to formaldehyde from formaldehyde gas, its solutions, and materials that release formaldehyde.
The permissible exposure limit (PEL) for formaldehyde in the workplace is 0.75 parts formaldehyde per million parts of air (0.75 ppm) measured as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).
The standard includes a second PEL in the form of a short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 2 ppm which is the maximum exposure allowed during a 15-minute period.
The action level – which is the standard’s trigger for increased industrial hygiene monitoring and initiation of worker medical surveillance – is 0.5 ppm when calculated as an 8-hour TWA.
Formaldehyde causes asthma, bronchitis, sinus infections, and headaches. Formaldehyde is also a carcinogen, and it has been linked to leukemia.
Remember that the most important action you can take to prevent excess formaldehyde exposure is to reduce the formaldehyde sources in your home. Building materials and certain coatings are often the major sources in homes. If you have large amounts of pressed wood products and other formaldehyde sources already in your home that cannot easily be removed, the best way to reduce your exposure to formaldehyde is to ventilate your home with outdoor air, maintain moderate temperatures, prevent excessive humidity, and do not bring additional sources into your home.
Testing is the only way to know the formaldehyde concentration in a home. Test badges cost as little at $40 each, including laboratory analysis. TP Environmental Consulting can identify building materials that emit formaldehyde.
EPA link http://www.epa.gov/iaq/formalde.html
Formaldehyde is listed as a “chemical of high concern” for its carcinogenic effects under Maine’s law on Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products.