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27—10—2015

Formaldehyde in Plywood - What Does It Mean To You?

Formaldehyde is a simple chemical, the product of many natural processes and made of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon.

Formaldehyde occurs naturally and is present in our everyday life – even in the air we breathe, and is produced and metabolised in the human body, although does not accumulate in the human body or environment as it is a volatile organic compound that breaks down rapidly. Even our homes contain many products with minimal Formaldehyde content such as vinyl, wallpaper, mirrors, textiles, timber, dishwashing liquid and even toothpaste.


Phenol Formaldehyde, commonly referred to as WBP (Water & Boil Proof) or A Bond, when used as an adhesive in plywood, provides the structural and moisture durability that is required in structural, exterior and marine grades of plywood. It is easily identified by the black line between the layers of ply. The Formaldehyde emissions in these plywoods when bonded with Phenol Formaldehyde are deemed as very low and are exempt from Formaldehyde emission regulations in the United States and Europe.

Two Australian voluntary standards make specific reference to formaldehyde in pressed timber products and include emission limits. These voluntary standards are:
◾AS/NZS 1859.1:2004: Reconstituted wood-based panels – Specifications – Particleboard
◾AS/NZS 1859.2:2004: Reconstituted wood-based panels – Specifications – Dry-processed Fiberboard.

To gain categorisation as a ‘low-formaldehyde emission’ product, finished pressed-wood products must meet test criteria levels of less than 1ppm formaldehyde. Most Australian-made particleboards and dry-processed fibreboards now meet these requirements and are ‘low-formaldehyde emission’ products. Improvements in manufacturing and resin technologies, particularly the use of lignin-based adhesives, have also helped manufacturers reduce formaldehyde emissions.

All plywood bonded with Phenol Formaldehyde adhesive will produce Formaldehyde emissions. The emissions will be at their highest immediately after the manufacturing process with pronounced decreases occurring within a matter of days and weeks. Testing of Formaldehyde emission is generally conducted shortly after manufacturing.
Research from numerous international organisations on Formaldehyde emission has shown that phenolic resin bonded plywood Formaldehyde emission is extremely low and will reduce even further once a phenolic coating has been applied.

Naturally occurring Formaldehyde dissipates rapidly in most household products. For example, the properties of wool carpet have been proven to effectively absorb formaldehyde and have been shown to reduce levels of formaldehyde from 300ppm (parts per million) to 0.5ppm in four hours. Wool carpets that had absorbed formaldehyde did not re-emit the formaldehyde even when heated.

Plywood products, therefore, emit low to non-existent Formaldehyde readings – each variety of plywood will read differently.  The Formaldehyde levels are dependent on the content of the adhesive glue lines of each plywood sheet, plus on the variety of exterior coating on the plywood.

For accurate helpful information on Formaldehyde in Australian Plywood products, call Maxiply on 1300 761 741.

Information relating to formaldehyde and formaldehyde emission can be found on the following websites:
Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia www.ewp.asn.au
Department of Health National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme www.nicnas.gov.au
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission www.productsafety.gov.au

Contact us for more information
Posted by: Nathan Sangster

27—10—2015

Formaldehyde in Plywood - What Does It Mean To You?
Posted by: Nathan Sangster

Formaldehyde is a simple chemical, the product of many natural processes and made of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon.

Formaldehyde occurs naturally and is present in our everyday life – even in the air we breathe, and is produced and metabolised in the human body, although does not accumulate in the human body or environment as it is a volatile organic compound that breaks down rapidly. Even our homes contain many products with minimal Formaldehyde content such as vinyl, wallpaper, mirrors, textiles, timber, dishwashing liquid and even toothpaste.


Phenol Formaldehyde, commonly referred to as WBP (Water & Boil Proof) or A Bond, when used as an adhesive in plywood, provides the structural and moisture durability that is required in structural, exterior and marine grades of plywood. It is easily identified by the black line between the layers of ply. The Formaldehyde emissions in these plywoods when bonded with Phenol Formaldehyde are deemed as very low and are exempt from Formaldehyde emission regulations in the United States and Europe.

Two Australian voluntary standards make specific reference to formaldehyde in pressed timber products and include emission limits. These voluntary standards are:
◾AS/NZS 1859.1:2004: Reconstituted wood-based panels – Specifications – Particleboard
◾AS/NZS 1859.2:2004: Reconstituted wood-based panels – Specifications – Dry-processed Fiberboard.

To gain categorisation as a ‘low-formaldehyde emission’ product, finished pressed-wood products must meet test criteria levels of less than 1ppm formaldehyde. Most Australian-made particleboards and dry-processed fibreboards now meet these requirements and are ‘low-formaldehyde emission’ products. Improvements in manufacturing and resin technologies, particularly the use of lignin-based adhesives, have also helped manufacturers reduce formaldehyde emissions.

All plywood bonded with Phenol Formaldehyde adhesive will produce Formaldehyde emissions. The emissions will be at their highest immediately after the manufacturing process with pronounced decreases occurring within a matter of days and weeks. Testing of Formaldehyde emission is generally conducted shortly after manufacturing.
Research from numerous international organisations on Formaldehyde emission has shown that phenolic resin bonded plywood Formaldehyde emission is extremely low and will reduce even further once a phenolic coating has been applied.

Naturally occurring Formaldehyde dissipates rapidly in most household products. For example, the properties of wool carpet have been proven to effectively absorb formaldehyde and have been shown to reduce levels of formaldehyde from 300ppm (parts per million) to 0.5ppm in four hours. Wool carpets that had absorbed formaldehyde did not re-emit the formaldehyde even when heated.

Plywood products, therefore, emit low to non-existent Formaldehyde readings – each variety of plywood will read differently.  The Formaldehyde levels are dependent on the content of the adhesive glue lines of each plywood sheet, plus on the variety of exterior coating on the plywood.

For accurate helpful information on Formaldehyde in Australian Plywood products, call Maxiply on 1300 761 741.

Information relating to formaldehyde and formaldehyde emission can be found on the following websites:
Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia www.ewp.asn.au
Department of Health National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme www.nicnas.gov.au
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission www.productsafety.gov.au

Contact us for more information