Plywood Formaldehyde Emissions

Plywood formaldehyde emissions are determined by the glue used in production. Plywood mills use Phenolic, melamine and urea formaldehyde glue. Emission grades are Super E0, E1, CARB P2 and F4 Star.

Formaldehyde is used in glue in the manufacture of wood based panels including plywood, particle board and MDF. It is used for the formulation of wood-based panel adhesives and very hard to substitute. Formaldehyde release is very high in newly manufactured plywood. So it is important to control the quality of glue used for plywood.

plywood formaldehyde emission

Formaldehyde Standards In Different Countries

American Standard For Formaldehyde Emission in Plywood

Regulated by California Air Resources Board(CARB)

From March 22, 2019, all hardwood plywood sold in United States must be labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant. Plywood sold, supplied, offered for sale, imported to, or manufactured in the United States are in compliance with the emission standards.

Hardwood plywood made with a veneer core or a composite core should meet 0.005ppm in formaldehyde emission testing.

See more details:

European Standard for Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde ClassE1
Formaldehyde Emission Limit<=0.124 mg/m3

Japanese Standard

GradeMax Formaldehyde Emission
F****0.4 mg/L
F***0.7 mg/L
F**2.1 mg/L
F*7.0 mg/L

Chinese Standard

The latest formaldehyde standard is GB 18580-2017 released in 2018.

There is only E1 standard listed in GB 18580-2017. E1 formaldehyde emission standard is 0.124mg/m3, which is same as the European standard.

China released GB/T 39600-2021 as an update for GB 18580-2017. GB/T 39600-2021 gives formalde status of E0 standard.

Emission classes E1 and E2 were created by European Standard EN 13986 for use in construction where formaldehyde-containing resins have been added to the product. The product ought to be tested and classified into one of two classes: E1 and E2. The test requirement does not apply to wood-based panels to which no formaldehyde containing materials were added during production. They may be classified E1 without testing.

Looking for E0 plywood from China?

There is no official standard of E0 plywood but Chinese plywood manufacturers do make low formaldehyde plywood for certain uses.

From 1st October 2021, there is E0 plywood in China legally as described by GB/T 39600-2021, the new national standard of formaldehyde emission grading for plywood in China.

There is no formaldehyde-free plywood. There are no-added formaldehyde (NAF) and ultra-low emitting formaldehyde-based resins (ULEF), to encourage the use of these lower-emitting resins in composite wood products.

Formaldehyde Testing Methods

  • Chamber method EN 717-1 with 3 volume options
  • Perforator method EN 120
  • Gas analysis method EN 717-2
  • Flask method EN 717-3

Glue Types Used in Plywood

urea formaldehyde glue for plywood
UF Resin (Urea Formaldehyde)

Formaldehyde-based adhesives for wood-based panels are UF and MUF resins and to a lower extend PF resins. Formaldehyde-free plywood is made with pMDI. For the next years, conventional adhesives with reduced or no formaldehyde emissions will maintain their dominating position. The importance of alternative resins will increase but on a lower level as often proposed.

See more details at our article plywood glue types.

How to Reduce the Formaldehye in Your Room?

Use Low-Formaldehyde Plywood

Choose E1 or E0 grade plywood for your flooring, cabinets and furniture. Test the plywood if you have doubts about the quality of the material used in your decoration.

Use Less Engineered Panels

Solid timber is better than engineered panels. Timber is extra low in formaldehyde compared with the plywood. Using a lot of E1 grade plywood won’t help with the situation. Too much engineered wood in a room still release a lot of formaldehyde.

Seal The Plywood

Make the plywood laminated or coated. You may use a vapor barrier such as some paints, varnishes, or a layer of vinyl or polyurethane-like materials. Be sure to seal with a material that does not contain formaldehyde.

Famous Standards For Plywood Formaldehyde Emissions

  • Europe & China – E1 Grade
  • United States – CARB Phase 2, the limits for formaldehyde emissions are 0.05ppm (parts per million) for hardwood plywood.
  • Japan – JAS F☆☆☆☆ grade
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