Evaluating Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Cross-Laminated Timber Bonded with a Soy-Based Adhesive

Michael Yauk, Jason Stenson, Micah Donor, and Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg

Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from indoor sources are large determinants of the indoor air quality (IAQ) and occupant health. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a panelized engineered wood product often left exposed as an interior surface finish. As a certified structural building product, CLT is currently exempt from meeting VOC emission limits for composite wood products and confirming emissions through California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Standard Method testing. In this study, small chamber testing was conducted to evaluate VOC emissions from three laboratory-produced CLT samples: One bonded with a new soy-based cold-set adhesive; a second bonded with a commercially available polyurethane (PUR) adhesive; and the third assembled without adhesive using dowels. A fourth commercially-produced eight-month-old sample bonded with melamine formaldehyde (MF) adhesive was also tested. All four samples were produced with Douglas-fir. The test results for the three laboratory-produced samples demonstrated VOC emissions compliance with the reference standard. The commercially-produced and aged CLT sample bonded with MF adhesive did not meet the acceptance criterion for formaldehyde of  ≤9.0µg/m3. The estimated indoor air concentration of formaldehyde in an office with the MF sample was 54.4 µg/m3; the results for the soy, PUR, and dowel samples were all at or below 2.5 µg/m3.

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