SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1996

Comparison of Two Small Chamber Test Methods used to Measure Formaldehyde and VOC Emission Rates from Particleboard and Medium Density Fiberboard


The emission of formaldehyde and other VOCs from composite wood products is of much interest. Large chamber test procedures (ASTM E 1333) have been established and are routinely used to monitor composite wood product performance relative to federal formaldehyde emissions standards established by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Increasingly, small chamber procedures developed by researchers for general VOC analysis are being used to characterize composite panel product emissions.

The objective of this research is to find suitable test methods for characterizing formaldehyde and other VOCs from composite wood products. This study specifically evaluates particleboard and medium density fiberboard as manufactured and those post-laminated with high pressure laminates, melamine saturated papers, and other overlays. Reliable test methods are the key to providing sound product emission data.

A 1992/93 study by the National Particleboard Association (NPA), working with Geomet Technologies, Inc., measured the emissions of VOC from a selection of product specimens using a 52-L electropolished stainless steel chamber. Matched product samples were tested by Georgia-Pacific Resins, Inc. in an automated, 44-L aluminum Dynamic Microchamber (DMC), suitable for formaldehyde emissions measurements.

Geomet reported somewhat higher average 24-h formaldehyde concentrations, 311 μg/m3, compared to 274 μg/m3 using the DMC. Formaldehyde concentrations for six matched specimen sets, decreased by 18% from 24 to 120 h in the Geomet testing and by 19% from 24 to 96 h in the Georgia-Pacific testing. Correlation between the two 24-h test data sets was poor.

Author Information

Liles, WT
Georgia-Pacific Corporation, Decatur, GA
Koontz, MD
Geomet Technologies, Inc., Germantown, MD
Hoag, ML
National Particleboard Association, Gaithersburg, MD
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Developed by Committee: D22
Pages: 200–210
DOI: 10.1520/STP15622S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5340-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2030-3