Comparison of formaldehyde emission from building finishing materials at various temperatures in under heating system; ONDOL

Indoor Air. 2005 Oct;15(5):317-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2005.00368.x.


The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of various temperatures, room, 37 and 50 degrees C, on formaldehyde emission from floor materials, such as laminate and plywood floorings, and furniture materials, such as MDF and particleboard veneered with decorative paper foil, by desiccator's method. The temperature conditions were set up by, measuring the temperature in a Korean under heating system. To maintain an indoor air temperature of 20 degrees C, the temperature of the flooring surface was about 37 degrees C and the temperature of the cement mortar was 50 degrees C. The initial formaldehyde emission of the laminate flooring and plywood flooring was 1.44 and 0.63 mg/l, and for MDF and particleboard it was 4.73 and 4.95 mg/l, respectively. Floor materials were under E1 grade while furniture materials were under E2 grade in terms of formaldehyde emission. Because of the under heating system, the flooring materials were exposed to 37 and 50 degrees C, while the furniture materials mostly existed at room temperature. At 37 and 50 degrees C, the formaldehyde emission level of the flooring materials was already under 0.3 ppm (F level by JIS A 1460, application possibility without area limit) after 10 days and the emission had decreased further (0.03-0.10 mg/l) after 28 days. These levels are not injurious to the human body and will not cause sick house syndrome (SHS). The problem, however, is the furniture materials such as MDF and particleboard. As these materials are not exposed to high temperature (50 degrees C in this experiment) in living condition, it was still E2 grade of formaldehyde emission level at room temperature remained even after 28 days. Although there will be variations with the volume of furniture materials and the indoor conditions, furniture materials are the principal cause of indoor air quality pollution in Korean with the under heating system.

Practical implications: Koreans spend most of their time sitting on ONDOL (heated) floors, with their buttocks always in contact with the floor surface. The flooring materials are exposed to high temperatures (37-50 degrees C) why the effect of bake-out is rapid. The emission of formaldehyde from furniture materials are more important for the IAQ because usually MDF and particleboard of E2 grade are being used as furniture materials in Korea.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Carcinogens, Environmental / analysis
  • Carcinogens, Environmental / toxicity
  • Construction Materials / adverse effects
  • Construction Materials / analysis*
  • Floors and Floorcoverings
  • Formaldehyde / analysis*
  • Formaldehyde / toxicity
  • Heating / adverse effects
  • Heating / methods
  • Humans
  • Korea
  • Temperature


  • Carcinogens, Environmental
  • Formaldehyde