Particle board, or chipboard is a very common material used in the construction of houses and furniture.
The upside of particle board is that it’s almost entirely manufactured from recycled timber or timber waste.
It’s cheap to buy and is very useful, but components of it can be highly toxic.
Most particle board contains formaldehyde; a potent chemical. It’s an anti-bacterial agent used, amongst other things, to embalm human bodies! When combined with other chemicals, formaldehyde produces a tough resin; the bonding agent used for particle board.
Unfortunately, a formaldehyde based resin will leach formaldehyde into the atmosphere over time. Low level irritations can irritate the eyes and nasal pages. Large doses are fatal. Formaldehyde is considered as a likely human carcinogen in the European union. You can read more on formaldehyde here; you’ll be shocked to learn how pervasive this chemical is in our modern lives.
When purchasing particle board or products based on particle board, try to determine the bonding agent used as there are non-formaldehyde based products now coming onto the market. Also check with your hardware store about the origins of the wood. While the vast majority is made from recycled or waste timber, a small percentage of board made from virgin forests still makes its way onto the market.
Have you ideas or tips on greener alternatives to particle board – please share them with us via the form below! :)