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Formaldehyde of home renovation exceeded safety levels by 10 times

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Annabel Lee
by Annabel Lee
ago

Hi everyone, I have just done the handover of my house from ID a couple of weeks ago.


The first week after the handover we went to do final inspection of the house. However, we got mild headaches, sore throat and stingy eyes despite being in the home for just 10 to 15 minutes.


We have heard that its kinda normal for new renovation to have some "new home smell". We were not in a hurry to move in as we still have a place rented, so we left our newly renovated place to ventilate for the next 2 weeks. Our initial thoughts were that 2 weeks of ventilation, with all windows and doors open and couple of strong fans circulating the air should solve this issue.


However, when we came back two weeks later, the uncomfortable effects did not seem to have improved much. Staying in our living room for less than half an hour, with with windows open causes discomfort of sore-throat and feeling of flam.


We did some searching online, and found out that new renovation, especially with built-in carpentry releases formaldehyde. The formaldehyde could be much higher than safety levels, especially if the materials and glue used are not of good quality.


As health conscious people ourselves, we then ordered some formaldehyde test kits online to do some testing. We tested all rooms in our house and the results blew our mind.


The most serious is our living room, which based on the test kit exceed the safety levels of formaldehyde by more than 10 times. Do see the image attached for reference. It is no wonder we were feeling ill just by being around for a short period.


We actually came across some reviews on Hometrust when our reno was already in the process. Didn't think the same issue could happen to us, but unfortunately it did. Here is the review we came across btw: https://www.hometrust.sg/interior-designers/livspace/review/5507


Anyone has experienced the same issues before, and can suggest us remedies to solve this? I read online that formaldehyde takes at least 6 months to 2 years to drop to safe levels are they are constantly released by the fresh carpentry. We are not in a hurry to move in, but we do not have another 6 months or more to rent too.


Do share any experiences or solutions, thank you!


Annabel Lee
by Annabel Lee
ago
1

Just to clarify and add on, the image attached in topic is the results for our living room area. It makes sense to be the highest reading at more than 0.8 to 1 as there are much more built in carpentry there. We also tested all our bedrooms individually which yield a lower results as we did not have any built-in carpentry in our bedrooms (but still 5x more than safety levels at 0.5).


Do note that these test results are merely tested from an elevated space in the middle of the room, and not within the carpentry themselves, which would otherwise have yielded even higher numbers.


Heartily
by Heartily
ago
2

Hi did you get to choose the paint company or type of paint used?


Annabel Lee
by Annabel Lee
ago
3

We followed the recommendation by ID using Nippon VINILEX 5000. Its suppose to be low VOC. But formaldehyde are mainly from glue that is used between plywood, and especially fresh glue that are used on the laminates onto the carpentry.


If the carpentry and laminates are done in factory, it might require lesser glue (hence lesser formaldehyde) as factories have dedicated equipment to bond the materials without using as much glue. If they are hand-pasted, its gonna be much more glue used.


Update: It has been more than 2 weeks since first posted. Still can smell some formaldehyde if stay in kitchen for pro-long periods but it has improved. We have been airing and ventilating as much as possible, so it might also be due to the ventilation is much faster than the rate of formaldehyde release.


Pakoball
by Pakoball
ago
4

TS your case like damn jialat. But not surprising la, these days all the materials and carpentry comes from Malaysia. There is no QC or regulations for the materials when importing here also. Its quite gg one.


Pakoball
by Pakoball
ago
5

Went to a friend's house who had just renovated that day. Despite they have air the place for more than 2 months, the formaldehyde levels still feel v high... hanging out with the place for 30 minutes got a bit dizzy and sorethroat. Can't imagine if staying there all the time.


Heard is they cheap out on the materials, and used a lot of cheap plywood, which every layer is a glue full of fresh formaldehyde 🥴


Dee Jai
by Dee Jai
ago
6

Do u still experience high levels of formaldehyde? I still experience high levels of formaldehyde for my home carpentry even though renovation completed 18 months ago.


Annabel Lee
by Annabel Lee
ago
7

Hey Dee Jai,


It has been much better (by smell) even though we did not hire a professional to test it again. However some lesser used cabinets such as those that are at the top of kitchen still emits quite a strong smell when opened.


Just an add-on note: we also hired a VOC cleaning professional since then to clean the whole house. Might have helped to improve the clearing faster, but not sure the exact effectiveness too.


Shawn C
by Shawn C
ago
8

https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/family-moves-new-home-falls-sick-high-levels-formaldehyde-furniture


Saw this today. Seemed like there is an increasing trend of ID contractors using low quality materials for carpentry. It is such a shame that HDB or BCA doesn't regular or inspect their work and materials used.


Atlas G
by Atlas G
ago
9

Formaldehyde sucks, its really hard to clear since they are released from the blue within the plywood of the carpentry, also also the glue from the laminates onto the carpentry.


If have formaldehyde in home already after hand over can try those air purifiers that are designed specially to tackle formaldehyde. Don't get those Dyson one, the dyson design already failed in the first place with how the ventilation and filter is created. A youtuber tested and it clears less than 10% of VOC and formaldehyde.


Go for something that is specifically made to remove these toxic gases. Those china brands do it so much better as it is a well known thing there. Go for something like the GREE models, those are the gold glass of VOC, formaldehyde and air purifying. If really budget can try like Xiaomi, or Midea, but not every of those models are effective.


Dee Jai
by Dee Jai
ago
10

Hi Annabel! Thanks for sharing. We hired a formaldehyde removal company 2 weeks ago (last try before replacing the carpentry if it doesn’t work) and after 3 rounds of misting, the formaldehyde readings were still high if the cabinet door or drawer were closed for around 8 hours. Not too hopeful that the situation will improve but the company tried 2 more rounds of misting few days back and I am keeping my fingers crossed.🤞


Thanks Atlas G… your advice came in very useful and timely 😄 Lock-in on Dyson B+Q until I saw your msg. Will try to check out the Chinese air purifier models too.


Agree with Shawn C that the ministry will need to step in fast to regulate the use of building or renovation materials that may be harmful to consumers’ health in the long term. My ID’s boss can still tell us that formaldehyde levels in the plywood may be high but currently there is no NEA regulation to formaldehyde levels in carpentry. 😡


Mei Ling
by Mei Ling
ago
11

Happen to see this article from CNA: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/formaldehyde-wooden-furniture-homeowners-seeking-help-sick-4475181


Feel so disgusted to have a new home yet with the kids falling sick from it. Worst of all formaldehyde could cause long term illness like cancer.


Since BCA, HDB and whatever authorities don't regulate this, wish those unethical contractors and renovation firms get karma retribution.


Formaldehyde of home renovation exceeded safety levels by 10 times

Updated on 16 July 2023
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