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12 January 2011

Researchers develop wood that eats its own pollution

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Modified zeolites promise to tackle formaldehyde pollution

Researchers in Germany have developed a way to reduce unhealthy emissions from particleboard, which could make it a more suitable material for makeshift dwellings.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research have found a way to infuse particleboard with a chemical that "eats" emissions of formaldehyde, a chemical linked to health problems.

Formaldehyde is commonly used as a component in adhesives used to glue particleboard together. The chemical, which is believed to be potentially carcinogenic when exposed to people over long periods, can also cause vision and respiratory problems, making it a potential health threat when particleboard is used in construction.

The researchers used modified zeolites, an absorbent molecule commonly used in everything from laundry detergent to water purification and nuclear materials reprocessing. The zeolites have a large internal surface area that can be used to capture formaldehyde particles, preventing them "offgassing", or escaping into the atmosphere.


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