To conclude my series on formaldehyde, here are some fun facts for you to use to reassure your buyers who may be panicked unnecessarily about formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is an easy target, but frankly it is not a true hazard in normal industrial usage. Formaldehyde is like sunlight-it occurs naturally and we cannot live without it. At higher exposures, it is an irritant. Too much sunlight, you get sunburned. Too much formaldehyde, your eyes water and your nose runs. All people are exposed to naturally occurring formaldehyde daily. In fact, the average person processes about 1.5 ounces of formaldehyde each day as part of normal human metabolism. Formaldehyde is normally present in human blood at a low steady-state concentration of approximately 1 to 2 parts-per-million.

Here are some more specific formaldehyde figures:

The World Health Organization and Health Canada have estimated that the average adult ingests 9 times more formaldehyde each day from food than they inhale from all airborne sources combined.

The World Health Organization and Health Canada have estimated that the average adult ingests 9 times more formaldehyde each day from food than they inhale from all airborne sources combined.

Furthermore, when California was considering their new anti-formaldehyde crackdown, their own data showed that the formaldehyde emitted by composite wood products accounts for less than 5% of all of the formaldehyde emitted into California air! As noted, the human body is able to easily and rapidly metabolize formaldehyde, so the low levels at which most people are exposed throughout their everyday lives present little risk to health.

E1 glue emits a formaldehyde level of 0.1 ppm. If you inhale secondhand smoke from 5 cigarettes within 30m2 then you breathe in over twice that amount: 0.23 ppm. But directly smoking just one cigarette will put 40.0 ppm into your lungs! Yes, one cigarette has 400 times the formaldehyde of E1 flooring.

Here are some other numbers regarding natural concentrations in every day things:

1 apple: 2.0 mg/100 g

1 onion: 2.0 mg/100 g

1 carrot: 0.8 mg/100 g

1 tomato: 0.6 mg/100 g

1 spinach: 0.5 mg/100 g

1 Coca Cola: 0.7 mg/100 g

And smoked salmon contains 100 mg/100g!

You know what else? Formaldehyde played a pivotal role in the defeat of polio by allowing Jonas Salk to pioneer a "killed-virus" vaccine that would immunize without the potential risk of injecting a live virus. It is essential to the workings of the human body and other biological systems and is used in making pill coatings, heart valves and vaccines.

The bottom line is that formaldehyde is all around us and inside of us. We need to be reasonable and practical in our approach-after all, you can drown in an inch of water, but I, for one, am not planning on giving up drinking H2O! (Or stop eating smoked salmon and spinach.)

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")