Laminate floors in RVs are a popular choice for the DIYer, and for good reason. They look great, keep allergens down and eliminate stinky odors that get trapped in carpet. But there’s a hidden danger of laminate floors in RVs that makes this material a lot less appealing: it could be increasing your exposure to formaldehyde, a known cancer causing chemical.
Laminate floors in RVs looks pretty, but . . .
Do Laminate Floors in RVs Make Us Sick?
You probably already know that trailers, motor homes, campers and other RVs are built with building parts that contain formaldehyde. According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association of America (RVIA), “Formaldehyde is a component in almost all glues used to produce wood products. The two most common are urea formaldehyde and phenol formaldehyde. And since it’s used to make plywood and particleboard, it’s commonly found in flooring, paneling, cabinetry, furniture and other products.”
By remodeling your RV with laminate flooring, you may be increasing your risk to side effects of formaldehyde over-exposure, especially if the product is made in China (which most are). The EPA says that if you are experiencing eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as other respiratory symptoms, formaldehyde may be the cause if it’s in your home. The National Toxicology Program recently classified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.
Formaldehyde is in all RVs.
According to a recent report by CBS News, laminate flooring sold by retailers like Lumber Liquidators may “fail to meet health and safety standards, because it contains high levels of formaldehyde, a known cancer causing chemical.”
An additional laminate flooring investigation by the New York Times says that formaldehyde in laminate flooring installed into stick homes is assumed to be responsible for many health illnesses experienced by pets and people.
Although other nations place restrictions on using formaldehyde in wood products for the home, the United States lags behind and currently has no rules in place for regulating formaldehyde emissions levels in building products. Currently, only California places tight restrictions on laminate flooring manufacturers, who must comply with these regulations in order to sell there.
Do This Before You Install Laminate Floors in Your RV
EPA recommends that consumers look for products that are labeled or stamped in compliance with California Air Resources Board Air Toxics Control Measure (CARB ATCM) criteria or meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.
The good news is that according to the EPA, emissions from composite wood products decrease over time. If laminate flooring in RVs is more than two years old, the formaldehyde has probably off-gassed to levels considered safe by the EPA.
The RVIA says that very few RVers report any kind of sensitivities to the formaldehyde levels found in RVs. If you’re concerned about it, the RVIA recommends adequate ventilation before travel.
“Ventilate. Open a unit’s windows to allow fresh air in and run any fans and the air conditioner to lower the temperature and humidity before each trip,” they advise. “If a unit has a pungent odor or you experience any irritation, the best bet is to ventilate the unit.”