Bamboo 2010 Style
Part One: Urea Formaldehyde
I was taken aback. “Respected” brands of bamboo, two of them were named, don’t contain Formaldehyde, read a recent article in a respected “green” products magazine.
I don’t mean to criticize the author. The landscape of bamboo manufacturers and formaldehyde adhesives used in their products has changed quite a bit over the past three years, and some people just haven’t kept their knowledge base up-to-date.
It began in 2007, when the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system clamped down on Urea Formaldehyde. Until then, most traditional (non-strand) bamboo floors from the bamboo leaders contained Urea Formaldehyde, but in amounts far below the E1 limit (a German standard adopted in China) of 0.1 parts per million.
Here is a snapshot of what has happened among the most visible manufacturers since then. Keep in mind that strand bamboo is not part of this debate as in usually only contains Phenol Formaldehyde, which is not considered a health threat, and LEED has not taken issue with it.
Teragren® bamboo: Synergy – the company’s strand bamboo line – and its 72-inch length traditional solid strip are the only stocked products that qualify for LEED’s No Added Urea Formaldehyde credit. The company’s other leading lines – Signature, Studio and Craftsman – can be specially ordered without Urea Formaldehyde, but there is a 9- to 12-week lead time, and an upcharge.
Smith & Fong Plyboo®: Offers Plyboo Pure flooring, plywood and veneer, as well as strand, with no added Urea Formaldehyde. The company began converting to a Urea-Formaldehyde-free manufacturing process in 2007.
US Floors®: Once known only as the manufacturer of Natural Cork®, this manufacturer’s products now include a full line of bamboo floors and its displays seem to be in most retail showrooms. The adhesive used in US Floors’ bamboo and wood flooring emits no Formaldehyde – Urea or otherwise.
Green Choice Flooring International: Uses the same adhesive as US Floors, which emits no formaldehyde.
EcoTimber®: Introduced no added Formaldehyde flooring as a standard product in 2008. This Colorado-based company says that responsible factories using adhesives containing isocyanate take all needed precautions to protect workers. The company also uses PVA adhesives that are formaldehyde-free and pose no danger to workers, according to its website.
Yes, the picture gets a little more complicated before the answer becomes simple. And getting there will require one more blog. So be sure to check back next week.
Architect & LEED AP
Owner of Greener Stock, Cincinnati