There are a number of sources that contribute to the toxic environment in which we live. Air pollutants, contaminants and particulates originate from materials that are used in our built environment. These pollutants are typically chemicals or additives that are used as a part of the overall products such as the additives that increase the durability and sheen of paint, or adhesives that harden wood paneling. The latter is one case in which there has been a level of research aimed at reducing the emissions of toxic contaminants, from the hardening adhesive, to zero.
The article, “Non-Toxic, zero emission tannin-glyoxal adhesive for wood panels” by Ballerini, Despres and Pizzi, discusses the desire to analyze tannin adhesives, that are used as wood paneling adhesives or hardeners. The overarching goal of this research is to investigate adhesives that have little to zero formaldehyde emissions. The adverse health effects of formaldehyde, which are well documented, include eye irritation, inflammation of the throat and difficulty breathing. Each of these symptoms are congruent with Sick Building Syndrome, which is a group of symptoms that are the results of toxic pollutants found in building materials, including formaldehyde.
The article states that while there are currently some adhesive that emit very low levels of formaldehyde emissions, additional research was needed to determine what adhesive would be the best to use. The article indicates that tannin-glyoxal is a non-volatile aldehyde that is non-toxic. This is an optimal adhesive used in the curing and treatment of wood.
This type of research is exactly the type of study that is required in order develop and improve materials that are used in the built environment. With adequate effort and funding, enough products will be developed so that our living and working environments can be free of toxic emissions.