healthy house institute

4 Free HHI Books:

Creating a Healthy Household, The Healthy House Answer Book, Healthy Home Building, The Healthy House 4th Edition
Your email will only be used as described in our Privacy Policy

Follow us on Twitter



Proud Supporter of:




Blog/Opinion: Formaldehyde Testing?

By HHI Staff

Testing for VOCs can be costly, because there are so many different VOCs that could possibly be in the indoor air. It wouldn’t be unusual to spend between several hundred and a few thousand dollars to do a complete analysis of the air in a house. Because of the care John Bower (HHI's founder) took in building the Model Healthy House, he was confident that VOC levels would be quite low indoors; therefore, he couldn’t justify the cost of all-out testing to verify what he already knew. At the same time, he was aware that many people would be curious as to what kind of findings an independent testing laboratory would come up with.


blog continues below ↓

We do not strictly control Google ad content. If you believe any Google ad is inappropriate, please email us directly here.

Rather than test for all possible VOCs, Bower decided to test for one of the most common—formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is one of the few pollutants that is said to be ubiquitous, meaning that it is everywhere. Even in an unpolluted area outdoors, it is possible to measure some formaldehyde in the air.


The easiest way to test for formaldehyde is to use a passive monitor. The type Bower selected looks like a small badge with a clip on it. These monitors are designed to be worn by people to measure the average level of pollutants that they come in contact with during the course of their day’s activities. Like radon test kits, these are exposed to the air for a certain time period, usually 24-48 hours, then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Passive monitors can be obtained for a variety of different VOCs. The cost depends on the particular pollutant being tested, but it can be as much as $200 per test. A passive monitor for measuring formaldehyde costs about $80.


Bower placed formaldehyde monitors in the kitchen and in the master bedroom. He also decided to place one outdoors so I could see how it compared to the indoor level. The results indicated that the outdoor air contained 0.01 parts per million (ppm) of formaldehyde. Both indoor tests were also 0.01 ppm, indicating that there is nothing indoors that is releasing formaldehyde. Since formaldehyde is ubiquitous, it can’t be avoided completely, but 0.01 ppm is actually extremely low. One Formaldehyde expert has recommended that levels need to be below 0.03 ppm for people sensitive to formaldehyde, but he also says that it is often difficult to reach a concentration that low. At 0.01 ppm of formaldehyde, the Model Healthy House successfully avoided an indoor formaldehyde problem.

Adapted from Healthy House Building for the New Millennium: A Design & Construction Guide (by John Bower, and published by HHI).



HHI Error Correction Policy

HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

(Note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Healthy House Institute, LLC.)

Formaldehyde Testing?:  Created on February 10th, 2012.  Last Modified on February 10th, 2012


We do not strictly control Google ad content. If you believe any Google ad is inappropriate, please email us directly here.



Information provided by The Healthy House Institute is designed to support, not to replace the relationship between patient/physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Education Partners



Popular Topics: Air Cleaners & Air Purifiers | Allergies & Asthma | Energy Efficiency & Energy Savings | Healthy Homes | Green Building
Green Cleaning | Green Homes | Green Living | Green Remodeling | Indoor Air Quality | Water Filters | Water Quality

© 2006-2017 The Healthy House Institute, LLC.


About The Healthy House Institute | Contact HHI | HHI News & Media | Linking Resources | Advertising Info | Privacy Policy | Legal Disclaimer


HHI Info