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No formaldehyde risk in home furniture

The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) released test results on consumer safety of home furnishings containing engineered wood and the compliance of those products with California’s formaldehyde emission standard (CARB). Source: Woodworking Network

Whitney Tilson, the founder and managing partner of Kase Capital Management, recently called into question the safety of home furnishings containing engineered wood.

Mr Tilson claimed he purchased and tested five pieces of residential furniture sold by and other national retailers.

According to Mr Tilson, four of those products failed to comply with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) formaldehyde standard.

AHFA purchased the same four products to have them tested by UL Environment, a business unit of Underwriters Laboratory, the global supplier of certification, testing, inspection and auditing services.

Test results showed all four products had formaldehyde emissions well below the CARB standard and in compliance with all related regulations.

“We believe CARB-compliant wood products are safe for consumers,” said Andy Counts, CEO of AHFA.

“In order to meet California formaldehyde emission limits, manufacturers of today’s composite wood components use new glue formulations, including ultra-low emitting-formaldehyde glues and no-added-formaldehyde glues.

“As a result, the wood furnishings built with these CARB-compliant components emit extremely low levels of formaldehyde.”

In a simulation of actual consumer use, UL Laboratory found that all four products sold by Wayfair produced formaldehyde emissions well below the CARB standard and at a level that UL considers “extremely low.”

In fact, the UL test results showed that the formaldehyde emissions were between 49% and 91% below the levels allowed under the current CARB standard – which remains the toughest formaldehyde standard in the world.

In order to produce a higher formaldehyde emission level, Mr Tilson used “deconstructive testing,” Mr Counts said.

“Deconstructive testing is not a valid method for determining CARB compliance of the components within finished consumer products.

“In our many years of working with CARB staff, deconstructive testing has been used only as a screening tool to determine if further testing might be necessary.

“It produces widely variable results and, therefore, is considered imprecise and unreliable.”