True Cellular Formulas Team - July 03, 2024

Hidden Dangers in Cabinet Materials

Protect Your Home from VOCs


When planning a home renovation, particularly one involving cabinets, it is crucial to consider the materials used. Cabinets not only serve a functional purpose but also contribute significantly to a home's aesthetic appeal. However, many homeowners may not be aware that the materials chosen for cabinetry can have serious implications for indoor air quality and overall health. This is primarily due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in many commonly used cabinet materials.

What Are VOCs?

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. They are found in many household products, including paints, cleaning supplies, and building materials like cabinets. Prolonged exposure to VOCs can lead to various health issues, ranging from mild irritations to severe conditions such as liver and kidney damage or even cancer.[1]

The Hidden Dangers in Cabinet Materials

The choice of cabinet materials can significantly influence the level of VOCs present in your home. Here’s a comprehensive look at common cabinet materials, listed from most toxic to least toxic:

  1. Particleboard and Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)
    • Composition and Concerns: These materials are constructed by binding wood particles or fibers with a resin, often containing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that can off-gas harmful VOCs into the home environment.
    • Health Risks: Exposure to formaldehyde and other VOCs from particleboard and MDF can cause allergies, respiratory issues, hormone disruptions, and other health problems.[2]
    • Alternatives: Some manufacturers offer formaldehyde-free MDF options using Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) as a binder. Although these alternatives reduce formaldehyde exposure, they may still off-gas other chemicals.
  2. Baltic Birch
    • Composition and Concerns: Baltic Birch is often marketed as a safer alternative due to its claim of being formaldehyde-free. Despite this, it still contains VOCs that can off-gas into the home.
    • Health Risks: While less toxic than MDF and particleboard, Baltic Birch still contributes to indoor air pollution through VOC emissions.
    • Suitability: It offers a better option but is not the ultimate non-toxic solution for cabinetry.
  3. PureBond (Plywood)
    • Composition and Concerns: PureBond plywood is designed to be free from formaldehyde and VOCs, making it one of the least toxic choices for cabinetry.
    • Health Benefits: Using PureBond plywood can significantly reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, thus promoting a healthier home environment.[3]
    • Advantages: PureBond plywood is non-toxic, durable, and aesthetically pleasing, making it an excellent choice for health-conscious homeowners.

The Importance of Choosing Non-Toxic Materials

The materials used in home construction and renovation can have a long-lasting impact on health and well-being. Choosing cheaper, more convenient materials might save money initially, but the hidden health costs can be substantial. Prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals can lead to chronic health issues that are far more costly in the long run.

Tips for a Healthier Home Renovation

  1. Conduct Thorough Research: Before selecting materials, investigate their chemical composition and potential health impacts. Look for certifications such as GREENGUARD or other third-party validations that confirm low VOC emissions.[4]
  2. Prioritize Indoor Air Quality: Invest in air purifiers and increase ventilation during and after renovations to help reduce indoor air pollution.
  3. Consult Professionals: Work with contractors and designers knowledgeable about non-toxic building materials and practices.
  4. Verify Marketing Claims: Some products may claim to be green or eco-friendly but still contain harmful chemicals. Always verify these claims through independent sources.
  5. Implement Regular Maintenance: Regular cleaning and maintenance of cabinets can help minimize the accumulation of dust and other pollutants that can exacerbate the effects of VOCs.


The choice of cabinet material significantly influences indoor air quality and overall health. Homeowners can create a safer, healthier living space by opting for less toxic materials such as PureBond plywood and being mindful of the potential dangers of VOCs. Investing in non-toxic materials today can lead to a healthier future. Prioritize health and well-being by making informed choices about the materials brought into the home.

  1. David, Elena, and Violeta-Carolina Niculescu. “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as Environmental Pollutants: Occurrence and Mitigation Using Nanomaterials.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 18, no. 24, Dec. 2021, p. 13147. PubMed Central,
  2. Thetkathuek, Anamai, et al. “Respiratory Symptoms Due to Occupational Exposure to Formaldehyde and MDF Dust in a MDF Furniture Factory in Eastern Thailand.” Advances in Preventive Medicine, vol. 2016, 2016, p. 3705824. PubMed Central,
  3. PureBond. “Healthy Living & Indoor Air Quality | PureBond® Plywood.” PureBond, Accessed 3 July 2024.
  4. Institute of Medicine (US) Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research. “Presentation Abstracts.” Green Healthcare Institutions: Health, Environment, and Economics: Workshop Summary, National Academies Press (US), 2007.,

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