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Analytical Lab Services

Formaldehyde Testing

Testing Services for Laminate & Engineered Wood Flooring, Furniture and Cabinetry

Berkeley Analytical offers formaldehyde testing services for manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers impacted by California Air Resources Board (CARB) ATCM Phase 2 and by U.S. EPA TSCA Title VI regulations for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. Additionally, we offer formaldehyde testing services by EN 16516 as required by Germany's Chemicals Prohibition Ordinance - ChemverbotsV. BkA’s formaldehyde testing services include:

  • Production quality control testing of U.S. regulated composite woods by ASTM D6007
  • Compliance testing of composite wood and finished goods for Germany and other EU states that have adopted the German ordinance
  • Quality control testing of supplier furnished composite wood cores and finished goods by ASTM D6007 and EN 16516
  • Diagnostic and deconstruction studies following the CARB Standard Operating Procedure for Finished Good Test Specimen Preparation Prior to Analysis of Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products

CARB ATCM Phase 2 & EPA TSCA Title VI Regulations

The U.S. EPA TSCA Title VI requirements are largely consistent with the CARB ATCM Phase 2 requirements that have been in place since 2012 for companies doing business in California.  In fact, the formaldehyde emissions requirements under the two regulations are identical.  Under TSCA Title VI regulated products manufactured or imported into the United States after March 22, 2019 must be certified and labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant by a third-party certification body (TPC) officially recognized by the U.S. EPA.

Both the CARB ATCM Phase 2 and the U.S. EPA TSCA Title VI regulations apply to composite woods widely used in laminate flooring, engineered wood flooring, commercial and residential furniture, cabinetry and other products. The regulations are not for finished goods; but, rather, limits the emission rates of formaldehyde from composite wood cores. The regulatory emission requirements vary depending upon the type of composite wood. Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is allowed the higher formaldehyde emission rates than Particleboard and Hard Wood Plywood (HWPW). Significantly, these requirements are “caps," meaning they are hard numbers that cannot be exceeded.

BkA uses ASTM D6007, the recognized secondary method, to measure formaldehyde emissions from composite wood. Our testing by this method is validated by our participation and consistent performance in CARB inter-laboratory studies involving over 30 international laboratories. Additionally, we routinely employ the CARB Standard Operating Procedure for Finished Good Test Specimen Preparation Prior to Analysis of Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products for testing of laminate flooring cores and furniture components for formaldehyde emissions. Deconstruction studies have been performed for the furniture industry to investigate the effects of veneers, finishes, and adhesives on the formaldehyde emission of core materials.

Our white paper, Test Methods for Measuring Formaldehyde Emissions from Laminate Flooring, shows the CARB and EPA regulatory requirements in Table 1 as both chamber formaldehyde concentrations and equivalent formaldehyde emission rates. These values are compared in Table 2 to the allowable formaldehyde emission rates for floors, ceilings and wallcoverings under voluntary standard CDPH Standard Method V1.2 that is used for qualifying products as low-emitting materials under USGBC LEED v4 and V4.1 and other building rating systems.

German Requirement for Formaldehyde

Germany has established a new reference method for measuring the emissions of formaldehyde from wood-based materials and concurrently an effectively much lower emission rate limit. The German regulation, Chemicals Prohibition Ordinance - ChemverbotsV, went into effect on January 1, 2020. For formaldehyde, the ordinance applies to coated and uncoated wood-based materials including chipboard, fireboard, and veneer-panels and to all furniture and other finished goods made from such materials. The reference method was changed from EN 717-1 to EN 16516, the same standard that is used for the general evaluation of VOC emissions from indoor materials. The emission limit is numerically the same as was previously in force for formaldehyde emission class E1 at 0.1 parts-per-million (i.e. 100 parts-per-billion which is equivalent to 120 ug/m3 at typical indoor conditions). However, in EN 16516, the chamber is operated at 0.5 air changes per hour and a high loading of 1.8 square meters of exposed material surface per cubic meter of chamber volume is specified for regulatory testing. A chamber concentration of 120ug/m3 at these conditions is equivalent to an area-specific emission rate of only 33 ug/m2-h. Unlike in the U.S., no distinctions are made regarding the type of composite wood product. For comparison, the effective formaldehyde area-specific emission rates in the U.S. for plywood, particleboard and MDF are 72, 120 and 257 ug/m2-h, respectively (see our white paper referenced above). Thus, Germany has effectively set a new lower limit for formaldehyde emissions for all composite wood-based materials and products that are sold internationally.

BkA can meet your requirements for European and international testing of products and materials for formaldehyde emissions.  We have EN 16516 in the scope of our accreditation along with ISO 16000-3 for the measurement of formaldehyde concentrations in indoor and chamber air. Additionally, we have small-scale and 1-m3 chambers that meet the requirements if ISO 16000-9 and EN 16516.

Formaldehyde Emissions from Other Products

Formaldehyde is contained in and emitted into air by many different products. Despite changes in the manufacturing of composite wood and other products over the last 25 years, formaldehyde is still a primary indoor air quality (IAQ) concern. BkA has a long history with the testing of products for formaldehyde emission. We offer testing in accordance with many formaldehyde emission standards such as CDPH Standard Method V1.2, ANSI/BIFMA M7.1, ASTM D6007, ISO 16000-9, and EN 16516. We also operate Micro-scale chambers that can measure formaldehyde emissions from very small samples following ASTM D7706. For example, formaldehyde emissions from laminate flooring collected in the field can be determined using small disks cut from installed flooring.

We use ASTM D5197 and ISO 16000-3 for the sampling and analysis of formaldehyde. These methods provide high precision and excellent sensitivity, typically about 1 µg/m3 in a chamber test.

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