What's the cheapest consumer method for testing my rental home flooring for CH2O (formaldehyde) off-gassing?

by MouthBreather   Last Updated February 23, 2016 01:09 AM

Trying to eliminate formaldehyde gas as a potential cause for some medical issues I've been experiencing.

I've been having acute idiopathic breathing difficulty and other strange symptoms for months since moving into a rental home while shopping for a home to purchase in neighboring areas. My wife is now experiencing similar breathing difficulty and fatigue... We've recently been consulting with several medical professionals and ENT/pulmonary specialists trying to pinpoint an environmental and/or dietary cause for the gradual onset of worsening symptoms we've been experiencing with little success (outside of possible adult onset anxiety disorders that have sprung up out of nowhere, which is a simple exclusionary hypothesis now being discussed at length with professionals).

Long story short, I have an engineering background and I'm uncomfortable throwing my hands up in the air and accepting the exclusionary diagnosis that both of our recent health conditions are contrived and mental when anyone who knows us would say we're both fundamentally averse to emotional drama of any kind.

With that said, this question is prompted by a breaking story my attending physician emailed to me yesterday as the following news broke:


I have located the recently installed laminate wood flooring that's installed in our rental home on the LL web site and I'd like to know if there's a clever way to test it for formaldehyde off-gassing. The home kits available on Amazon have few reviews and are running for $100+ for each - there has to be a better way... Thanks guys.

Tags : air-quality

Answers 2

There's the simple experimental approach - move out (to a motel if need be), see if you feel better, then spend more money finding out what it is, and sue the landlord to recover the cost of testing, relocation, etc. Makes nice headlines if they get uncooperative and you have hard data.

I think what you'd want (rather than "looking for formaldehyde") would be to run a gas chromatography or gas chromatography/mass spectrometry test on an air sample from the home, (or have a portable unit brought to the home for testing in place) and find out what IS in it. Never assume...

Could be free if you happen to know someone with one of those in their lab, not too expensive if you can find a local college or university that's willing to run a test for you, or expensive if you need to go to a full-on consulting laboratory to get the test run - the machines are bit on the spendy side. Or you may be able to rent one for testing in place.

March 03, 2015 22:37 PM

$100 for a test kit doesn't seem so bad. Sure it's not as cheap as a radon test kit, but it's a much more specialty item.

I would get one and see what it says, then go from there.

(Looking up that Lumber Liquidaters thing it's not clear to me whether the lumber in question is actually dangerous or just mislabeled. Also, off-gassing is generally worst in the first few months... was any of the flooring installed recently?)

Henry Jackson
Henry Jackson
March 03, 2015 23:09 PM

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