How to Test for Formaldehyde from Wood Laminate Flooring

With the recent release of information regarding high levels of formaldehyde in Chinese made laminate flooring, many clients have requested that we test the air in their home to see if potentially toxic levels of formaldehyde are present. Below you can find information on our indoor air quality testing services that relate to formaldehyde that may be present in laminate flooring


Our clients throughout the United States may send samples of their laminate flooring by mail for environmental chamber off-gassing testing for formaldehyde as follows:

  1. The total cost of analysis is $575.00
  2. Collect a sample of the suspect flooring (samples must be at least 3″ by 3″).
  3. Place sample into a sealed zip-top bag
  4. Print your name, phone number, address, and email address on a paper that will be included with the shipment
  5. Clients may pay by credit card (over the phone), check or money order (to be included with the shipment).
  6. Once payment and samples are received we will call or email you, and  begin the process of analyzing the flooring, results will be available in 10-14 business days
  7. All samples will be processed under ASTM D5582 for formaldehyde (dessicator) methodology
    1. This test method covers a small scale procedure for measuring formaldehyde emission potential from wood products under defined test conditions. The formaldehyde level is determined by collecting air-borne formaldehyde in a small distilled water reservoir within a closed desiccator. The quantity of formaldehyde is determined by a modification of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) 3500 chromotropic acid test procedure
    2. Wood products typically evaluated by this test method are made with urea-formaldehyde adhesives and include particleboard, hardwood, plywood, and medium-density fiberboard. This test method is used for product quality control and is a small bench test method that correlates with the large-scale acceptance test for determining formaldehyde levels from wood products, Test Method E1333
    3. This test method is used in conjunction with the test method referenced by HUD Rules and Regulations 24 CFR 3280 for manufactured housing, California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulation 93120, and by Minnesota Statutes Section 144.495 for housing units and building materials.
    4. This testing cannot be used for CARB ATCM Phase II or European product compliance.  This testing can show if detectable formaldehyde levels occur from your composite wood product
  8. Ship all payment and samples to:

Hawk Environmental Services, Inc.

7955 46th Ave S

Seattle, WA 98118


What can be done if high levels of formaldehyde are found?

If high levels of formaldehyde are found in the laminate flooring or air within your building the following 3 steps may help to remove or decrease the levels of formaldehyde that you are being exposed to:

  1. Remove the flooring or other formaldehyde containing materials
    1. If the source of the formaldehyde exposure can be readily identified and practically removed, this may be the best option
    2. Formaldehyde-free flooring should be used as a replacement
  2. Install a filter specifically designed to reduce formaldehyde levels
    1. Standard HEPA filters, air purifiers, and furnace filters will not remove formaldehyde from the air
    2. Hawk Environmental Services offers a full line of portable and installed filters that are rated to remove 60-80% of the total formaldehyde in the air with each pass
      1. Click here to see our Portable formaldehyde air filters
      2. Click here to see our residential and small commercial installed formaldehyde air filters
      3. Click here to see our industrial and large commercial installed formaldehyde air filters
  3. Improve ventilation in the home or office
    1. Fresh air from outside the home or office is vital to indoor air quality, and should be a part of every building’s design.
    2. Fresh air can be supplied through exhaust fans, fresh-air inlet ducts, or HRV systems.
    3. Click here to see some general information about residential ventilation needs


Our Seattle and Western Washington clients may call or email to request an appoint for on-site testing of formaldehyde levels in the air (see detailed information below).

What are the costs of testing formaldehyde in in your home or office’s air?

For clients within the general Seattle area each air sample for formaldehyde (EPA TO-11A) will cost $575.00.

Formaldehyde Air Testing includes:

  • Portable pump calibration
  • Frozen sorbent tube media
  • 8 hours of sample collection in the home
  • Re-freezing and next day shipping of sorbent tube to prevent loss or breakdown of formaldehyde
  • Final reporting and raw lab data within 7-10 business days (reports in parts per billion of formaldehyde)


Why was formaldehyde used in laminate flooring?

Formaldehyde is used in many adhesives and glues, and may be present in laminate or engineered flooring. Based on recent news reports, it is possible that high levels of formaldehyde were used in laminate flooring made in China or other areas for the simple fact that it was cheaper.


Which flooring may be affected?

At the time of this posting a full list of flooring brands that include high levels of formaldehyde has not been generated. Please see this link for brands and styles exposed in recent news articles.

Why is formaldehyde dangerous?

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and has been linked to myeloid leukemia, nasopharyngeal cancer, as well as general eye and throat irritation.

NIOSH recommended exposure level

OSHA Permissible exposure limit

16 parts per billion (10 hour time weighted average)

750 parts per billion (8 hour time weighted average)


How is formaldehyde in the air measured?

Because the safe levels of formaldehyde are so low, we need to use a very specific test to accurately measure the levels of formaldehyde in your air. Typical meters and on-site testing equipment are not accurate enough to measure down to the 16 parts per billion that is listed by NIOSH as the recommended exposure level.  Home testing kits may be inaccurate, or the formaldehyde may be partially lost during shipping to the lab.
Hawk Environmental Services uses EPA method TO-11A which captures air in a sorbent tube over a period of 8 hours. The tube is then frozen to limit the loss or breakdown of formaldehyde in transit, and analyzed by a qualified lab. Results are available for our clients within 7-10 business days. Results include all raw lab data as well as an interpretation related to the general NIOSH recommended exposure limits for indoor air quality.


How is formaldehyde in flooring measured?

To accurately recreate the conditions that may be present in  a home or office, an environmental gas testing chamber is used.  A sample of your laminate flooring will be placed within a chamber at a set temperature and humidity.  The formaldehyde will off-gas into the chamber and then the air will be collected and analyzed for formaldehyde content.  This allows the client to mail in a sample of a suspect type of laminate flooring, and avoid the expense or inconvenience of having a trained inspector perform a site visit.

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