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Cardno Conducts First-of-its-Kind Study of Chinese Laminate Flooring

Parul Dubey on July 27, 2016 - in Buildings

According to an independent Cardno study, although formaldehyde emissions from certain laminate flooring products may exceed the California emission standard when evaluated in enclosed test chambers, the use of these products are unlikely to result in acute health effects under real-world conditions.

The research team purchased two laminate flooring products, both of which had been previously evaluated for a CBS News report last year. Both products were purchased from the same well-known national flooring retailer referenced in news reports. The research team evaluated the products using not only the method referenced in those reports – chamber testing to evaluate compliance with the California Air Resource Board (CARB) standard – but also assessed real-world exposure resulting from the use of these products over a period of two months in a room-scale environment.

“The small chamber testing showed a great deal of variability with one product found to be out of compliance and the other within the standard,” said Cardno Principal Health Scientist and lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Pierce. “For one product, our results were up to nine-fold lower than previously documented in the news for the same product using the same method.”
The real-world test took place in two separate office rooms of equal dimension. The research team collected air samples at varying times over the course of 63 days following the acclimation, installation and removal of the laminate flooring. This testing found that actual levels of formaldehyde measured during the use of both products were 10-fold below levels at which acute health risks are known to occur.
“The team wanted to not just repeat the testing that’s already taken place but to really take a look at the exposures resulting from the use of flooring, as intended,” said Dr. Pierce. “We discovered that neither product in this real-world environment would lead to an acute health risk. This may seem counterintuitive but the fact is that the test chamber emission standards are not health-based. In short, exceeding the CARB standard in a test chamber does not necessarily mean that the flooring will pose a health concern when used in a real-world setting.”
The study, titled “An assessment of formaldehyde emissions from laminate flooring manufactured in China,” and an audio presentation from one of the study’s researchers are currently available online on the Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology journal’s website.

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