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Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) from hardwood oil based polyurethane

last year

I'm super concerned about the health implications of my situation and would appreciate any advice.

* if you stumble across this post, do yourself a HUGE favor and don't ever use oil based polyurethane to finish hardwood floors in your home.

We had our hardwood floors sanded, stained, and then sealed with an oil based polyurethane exactly 5 months ago. After two weeks, the floors were covered with Ramboard to protect them from renovation work. Ramboard is supposed to be breathable.

The product used was Masterline Commercial Grade Polyurethane which I'm sure is the cheapest crap the contractor could have chosen (given my other experiences with the contractor).

The problem is, there has been a noticeable VOC stink lingering in the house.

To try to get a grip on things, I got an Airthings View Plus air quality monitoring device to measure the VOC and sure enough, it's been showing elevated, an average of 222 ppb (parts per billion). But it goes up much higher without ventilation, once peaking at 1200 ppb.

Very clearly, opening windows and ventilating drops the number and closing windows allow the VOC to accumulate and lead to a higher reading.

We just recently removed the Ramboard and the VOC reading has just shot up, peaking at 909 ppb in the span of just a few hours.

I'm aware of some of the advice for dealing with the situation, namely:

1- to run the furnace real hot and try to cook the VOC out while ventilating

2- using another non-toxic sealant to cover the floors and prevent the "offgassing".

3- using air purifiers with absorbent carbon filters

I consulted with another flooring guy and he told me that he would not accept ANY level of VOC from oil based poly in his own home because it's just bad for health.

Checking online, it seems like 400 ppb is the level above which something needs to be done, and clearly we're breaching that number often.

My questions are:

How concerned should I be about health implications of this? Is what the flooring guy saying true, that any level is just unacceptable?

What mitigation steps can I take? At the extreme end, I can spend another $10K to redo it. Can I get away with just baking out the VOC?

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences.

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