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Delaware Healthy Homes

Inside Healthy Homes - New Building and Redecorating Materials.
What are these materials?

The most common types of new materials in your home or apartment that pose a health risk are newly laid carpet and plywood products. The chemical in question is formaldehyde. It's used in the backing of some carpets, in carpet glue and in the manufacture of plywood, especially interior grades.

What are the dangers?

Formaldehyde can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, headaches, wheezing and coughing, nausea and difficulty in breathing in some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per million). High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma. There is evidence that some people can develop a sensitivity to formaldehyde. It also has been shown to cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and the central nervous system in animals and may cause cancer.

What you can do...
  • Talk to your carpet retailer.
    • Ask for information on emissions from carpet.
    • Ask the retailer to unroll and air out the carpet in a well-ventilated area before installation.
    • Ask for low-emitting adhesives if adhesives are needed.
  • Limit your exposure.
    • Consider leaving the premises during and immediately after carpet installation.
    • Open doors and windows. Increasing the amount of fresh air in the home will reduce exposure to most chemicals released from the carpet.
    • Use window fans, room air conditioners or your HVAC system to exhaust fumes to the outdoors. Keep them running for 48 to 72 hours after the new carpet is installed.
  • Choose your wood carefully.
    • Never use interior grade plywood; only use exterior grade, even indoors.
    • Ask about the formaldehyde content of pressed wood products, including building materials, cabinetry and furniture, before you purchase them.
    • The use of dehumidifiers and air conditioning to control humidity and to maintain a moderate temperature can help reduce formaldehyde emissions.


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