I was told by the local lumberyard that exterior plywood now has no added formaldehyde. True? I'm in California.

Asked by Marg Hall
Berkeley, CA

I'm extremely sensitive to indoor air pollution -- especially, I believe, formaldehyde.


Yes it's true that exterior plywood does not contain urea-formaldehyde.

  • Exterior plywood have phenol-formaldehyde, which is associated with contact allergies but not respiratory allergies.
  • Wood also contains naturally occurring formaldehyde.
  • Here is more information on formaldehyde from the EPA.

Separately, the California Air Resources Board is requiring formaldehyde reduction in wood products that are typically used indoors. This rule has inspired U.S. law.

Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn, old products with higher levels of formaldehyde continue to be available for sale.

For more information:

Read William Fry's Q&A "I think we just made a big mistake by putting hardboard paneling in a newly air-conditioned attic space. Will painting reduce offgassing?"

Also, read Ian MacLeod's Q&A "I'm concerned about toxic offgassing from OSB subflooring and roofing. Are safer products available?"

Tagged In: home air quality, formaldehyde plywood

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