Since the 50s, formaldehyde has been the basic material for many artificial resins and glues used in particleboards and plywood boards. It can escape from these materials and, along with other sources, pollutes indoor air. Threshold values of 0.1 ppm and 100 µg/m3 have been set by Germany’s Federal Health Office and the World Health Organization, respectively, due to its carcinogenic potential.
Researchers led by Katrin Bokelmann, Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research, Germany, have found a way to reduce formaldehyde emissions from particleboard with modified zeolites. The best adsorption properties were achieved with synthetic zeolite Y modified with amino groups. Addition of 5 % by weight of the zeolite powder into sample particleboards made of spruce roundwood resulted in a 40 % reduction in formaldehyde emissions – both in short-term and long-term tests.
Modified zeolites incorporated into furniture or ceiling panels could conceivably reduce not only formaldehyde but also other aldehyde levels in indoor air.