We had a manufactured home built in 2006. The odor is still in the home and affects my sinuses, which I have never had problems with before.


We had a manufactured home built in 2006. The odor is still in the home and affects my sinuses, which I have never had problems with before.

Asked by Pat Lamm

Mobility Homes built the manufactured house in Florida. I can smell the glue on the wall panels. I have washed the walls. Still, guests and myself have difficulty with the air. What steps can be taken to check air quality?

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Cynthia Phakos's picture

Manufactured homes have a history of excessive use of formaldehyde, which is mostlikely the odor that you are experiencing, and would explain your sinus problems.

  • Formaldehyde levels are highest on warm, humid days, of which Florida has many.
  • Asa short-term solution, this can be reduced significantly with cross-ventilation, and soopening windows at opposite ends of the house would be recommended on those days.

Sources of formaldehyde in your home

The most significant source of formaldehyde is pressed wood products made withadhesives containing urea-formaldehyde resins.

  • This would include particleboard, medium density fiberboard, andplywood, all which are used for subflooring, cabinetryand furniture.
  • Formaldehyde levels will decrease with time by as much as 50-75% overa period of 3 years, as they are offgassed (emitted into the atmosphere).
  • Levels offormaldehyde have been reduced significantly in the last 20-30 years as we have cometo understand their impact on health.

Prof. Godish PhD (Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Managementat Ball State University) wrote an article in 2000 dealing with a very similar issuewhich you might look at and is where I have gotten some of this information.

HUD building code

Today's manufactured homes are constructed in accordance with the HUD building code,and your home should have a label on the exterior that the home has been inspected byan independent third party, insuring that it follows those requirements.

In regards to HUDemission standards, I found this statement, which applies to manufactured homes:

"The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Consumer Product SafetyCommission (CPSC) also have been involved in the development of standards to specify maximumrates of emission of air contaminants from various building and household products.

For example,HUD has issued standards for wood products that limit the level of formaldehyde emissions to 0.2ppm from plywood and 0.3 ppm from particleboard.... These standards were created to controlformaldehyde emissions in pre-manufactured housing, where large amounts of pressed woodproducts are used. These emission standards are generally not sufficient to control formaldehydelevels down to 0.05 ppm, as recommended for indoor environments."

Check your home's MSDS

A place to start in researching your home would be with the manufacturer of the home,to see if they have Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the materials that were usedin the construction of your home.

  • The MSDS is a product's summary prepared by theproduct's manufacturer, describing any health hazards that the product might have. The MSDS would also have information regarding the levels of formaldehyde in the product.
  • Youcould compare these with the HUD standards to see if the materials are in compliance.

Outside help

Prior to hiring an Air Quality Testing Consultant, a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)could assess the problems and recommend tests.

A CIH is a knowledgeable professionalwell versed in the science aspects as well as the practical solutions. As these issues can bemore complex, that person could save you from unnecessary expenses performing teststhat don't relate to your particular situation.

Also, he/she may be able to help in methodsfor correcting the problem.