particleboard made with adhesives that do not contain formaldehyde.
Fibreboard, sheet material made from
glued and pressed softwood dust or chips, is commonly used throughout the
building construction industry. Fibreboard is strong and has a stable,
smooth and scratch-resistant surface. Because fibreboard is made from
waste produced during wood processing, it is an efficient use of forest
resources. Conventional medium density fibreboard (MDF) contains
urea-formaldehyde or phenol-formaldehyde, which off-gasses into interior
air. The health impacts of formaldehyde has prompted many building
designers to specify formaldehyde-free fibreboard where possible.
Formaldehyde-free MDF is marketed under several trade names; two of the
best known are Medex and Medite II. The only formaldehyde in these
products is that which occurs naturally in the wood, since the adhesive
used in production is a polyurea resin. Standardized tests indicate that
the formaldehyde levels from both products is 0.04 ppm, well below most
indoor air quality standards. Both Medex and Medite II are homogeneous,
industrial-grade panels made from softwoods and are water resistant for
exterior use with a proper finishing. The manufacturer of Medite claims
that no commercially viable tree has been cut solely to provide wood for
There are other low-emission fibreboards. Most of these are bound with
phenol-formaldehyde, which does not off-gas as much formaldehyde as do
products made with urea formaldehyde. Rodman Industries produces a
low-toxicity particleboard from waste sawdust; the binder is
||decreases off-gassing of
||reduces potential for
||higher cost than
Two cautions need
to be observed when Medite II and Medex are used because of indoor air
quality concerns. Neither product should be stored with materials that can
emit and formaldehyde. They should be installed with adhesives, coatings,
and finishes that are formaldehyde-free.
formaldehyde-free fibreboard can be used in the same way as conventional
fibreboard, but with the added caution of greater potential for water
damage. Because not all standard sizes are caried in stock, a good amount
of lead time should be allowed when ordering.
considerably more expensive than conventional particleboard; Medite II is
lower in price, although still more costly than particleboard.
Green on the Grand
A Division of
2685 North Pacific Highway
tel 1 800 676 3339
fax 1 541 773 2522
tel 1 414 569 5820
fax 1 715
Leclair, Kim and David Rousseau. Environmental by Design:
A Sourcebook of Environmentally Aware Material Choices. Hartley &
Marks Publishers, Vancouver: 1992.
Environmental Building News Web Site