The Asthma Center

Chemical fumes

Strong irritating odors often result from volatile gases released from newly purchased rugs, furniture, flooring, glues, adhesives and/or polymer/plastic leveling compounds beneath floors, tiles, or carpeting. Other sources of these odors include insulation, plastics, wallpaper, painting, floor finishing, household repairs and remodeling. Particle board used in construction of floors, walls, shelving and furniture can release formaldehyde. These odors are often referred to as “outgassing” or release of fumes.

So what can you do? It is a good idea to test for irritating outgassing by exposing yourself to a small sample of a new material before beginning a project using that material. You can also remove volatile smells by fresh air ventilation or by using air cleaners with carbon filters that will trap odor molecules.