4 formaldehyde tests compared | Test kit or room air analysis? | You should know that.

Formaldehyde pollution can endanger health - it is all the more important to get certainty quickly. In our formaldehyde test comparison we summarize different possibilities. From small self-test kits to scientific indoor air analyses. Here we compare which tests really help to get our living space free of pollutants.


4 products in the test - the formaldeyhd test comparison

There are various ways of testing the room air for formaldehyde. In general, there are chemical and biological test methods in addition to electrical sensors. 

Formaldehyde measuring devices can test the room air for the pollutant in a classic way. Special formaldehyde sensors are the exception rather than the rule, since most electrochemical sensors can detect a wide variety of chemicals. Total values such as VOC or TVOC have therefore been established. Although this is easier to measure, it makes it more difficult for the user to obtain analyzable results. 

Indicator tests based on chemical or biological color reactions are easier to evaluate. Benefits of using indicator tests such as dem pollup patch compared to electrical sensors is the low susceptibility to disruptive substances such as alcohol or odorous substances and the easy handling. However, a disadvantage of these tests is that they can usually only be used once.

In addition, the use and evaluation of the electrical sensors requires some experience in dealing with scientific test methods and can quickly degenerate into unnecessary detective work. Between 80 and 230 EUR should be budgeted for an electrical sensor. In contrast to other indicator tests for single use, such as the Bio Check from Dräger (EUR 36 per measurement), the Pollupatch is quite inexpensive at EUR 3 per measurement point.

Below, you will find a detailed test in which we compare 4 products from the Formaldehyde Test category.

formaldehyd test vergleich zwischen pollupatch dräger biocheck temptop messgerät und raumluft laboranalyse

Pollupatch - The simple formaldehyde test

Similar to the Dräger Bio Check, the pollup patch a color reaction to indicate the presence or absence of formaldehyde. A package (room kit for just under EUR 25) contains 10 analysis patches, with which 8 sample locations can be sampled at the same time. The implementation is very easy and the results are convincing. The enclosed catalog of measures helps to take measures to eliminate pollutants on the first day without having to wait long. 

+ Price: At just under 3 EUR per rehearsal location, Pollupatch is the cheapest option.
+ Time: You can read the first results yourself after about 24 hours
+ Application: The implementation is easy and very simply explained
Validability: It is more of a qualitative test method and not a laboratory test, which is understandable for the price.

Dräger BioCheck - The pharmacy test

The Dräger BioCheck, is a semi-quantitative detection based on a color reaction triggered by an enzymatic reaction. The instructions are quite specific and a bit more difficult to carry out, since, for example, the room may not be entered for several hours during the measurement time, etc. At just under EUR 36 per analysis cassette, the test is very expensive for a one-time test. What is unpleasant is that the test is only meaningful if you buy 2 cassettes (i.e. at least 74 EUR), since one cassette is intended to serve as a negative control. There are many stumbling blocks in the implementation and although a result can at best be evaluated, the tips for solving the problem are missing.

Price: At least 76 EUR must be invested for a test that can be evaluated.
Time: The test itself lasts a few hours, but the preparation and follow-up are very time-consuming, as it has to be aired out extensively.
Susceptibility: The cartridge for the test start can sometimes not be broken properly, which leads to incorrect measurements and 36 EUR make the bend.
+ scale division: The color scale allows an assessment in a scale range of 0.1 ppm formaldehyde. 

Temtop M2000 - The electric formaldehyde meter

The Tempop M2000 is an electrical air quality meter with numerous sensors. In addition to formaldehyde (HCOH), particulate matter and CO2 are also measured. The sensor suggests that targeted areas can also be examined.  

+/- Price: The device has a lot to offer for just under EUR 209, but only if you can use the other features immediately.
+ Time: The electrochemical formaldehyde measurement only takes a few minutes and is very fast. Unfortunately, it is very susceptible to fluctuations, which complicates the evaluation.
“Quantitive Messung”: The sensors measure, but it is easy to see that they are not correctly calibrated. A calibration certificate is not included in the delivery and the measured values differ significantly from the other measuring techniques.
cross reactivity: Although the sensor is called a formaldehyde sensor, it is more of a VOC sensor, since impurities such as alcohol or special odors repeatedly distort the signal. Unfortunately, this is very irritating and makes it extremely difficult to find potential sources of formaldehyde. 

Room air analysis - The laboratory analysis

In the room air analysis, samples are taken in the suspected room and analyzed by experts in a laboratory under VDI or DIN standards. The laboratory equipment must be calibrated. As a customer, you ultimately receive a measurement protocol and, optionally, a clarifying consultation. There is already sample-based indoor air analysis from 59 EUR, with this variant you receive a sample tube with a sampling pump and both are sent back after the sampling is complete. 
If an expert, such as a building biologist, comes to the house to analyze the room air, it quickly becomes expensive. First talks without analysis cost around 250 EUR. If an analysis is carried out, costs between 550 and 890 EUR can quickly arise.

Price: For a test that can be evaluated, at least EUR 59 must be invested (without an expert). Costs explode when an expert has to come to the site.
Time: The effort involved in preparation and follow-up can take up to 30 days before results are available.
+ Simplicity: The sampling kits have a simple structure. When experts come to the house, they usually explain exactly where there may be problems and what needs to be done. On-site experts can help with various air issues and are not limited to just formaldehyde.
+ Reliable analysis: The analyzes and measurement logs are usually reliable. This is important in some cases where rent reductions or construction defects are to be asserted. 

Conclusion - What is the right test for me?

The answer to that question is: It really depends. Our formaldehyde test comparison gives an overview. 
Case 1: If you are looking for an initial assessment of whether high formaldehyde levels are actually present in the room, sample-based room air analysis is certainly a safe solution. Alternatively, the pollu patches are also a pragmatic and inexpensive alternative to get an initial assessment yourself.
Case 2: If there are concrete indications, such as an odour, health symptoms or an assumption as to where the vapors could come from, then it is worth working with the pollu patches. After the clarification, the extensive catalog of measures in particular helps to quickly find out which solution suits you personally best. The Temtop M2000 is also a suitable alternative, as long as you trust yourself to be able to develop a feel for the "right" signals and want to deal more with the device and research measures to combat pollutants yourself.
Case 3: Reliable evidence is needed because there is, for example, an effort to use the results for legal disputes. A certified room air measurement, ideally carried out by an expert, would be more suitable here. You also get a measurement log and reliable data.

Who can measure formaldehyde?

An sich kann jeder Formaldehyd selbst messen. Um selbst Gewissheit zu bekommen, gibt es Schnelltests, welche durch einen Farbumschlag die Anwesenheit von Formaldehyd zeigen (Indikatorentests). Ebenso gibt es elektrische Sensoren, die Aufschluss über Formaldehyd geben können. Für einen Nachweis gegenüber Dritten sind außerdem Labortests erhältlich. Eine juristisch “wasserdichte” Messung ist jedoch nur mit einem Gutachter möglich, welcher vor Ort die Messung und Probennahme fachmännisch leitet bzw selbst-durchführt. Für die meisten Fälle, eignen sich Indikatorentests als Orientierungshilfe, da diese wie beispielsweise die Pollupatches an verschiedenen Stellen ausgelegt werden können und somit eine hohe örtliche Auflösung ermöglichen. 

How long does formaldehyde evaporate?

Old wooden furniture can still emit formaldehyde 10-20 years after it was made. The thesis has long existed that old furniture emits fewer pollutants than new furniture, as these have already outgassed. This is not entirely true. Oftentimes, used furniture will be recommended, but these are subject to aged wood and testing standards. For example, the loading volume for the pollutant tests on wooden furniture was only doubled this year, so that the regulations are much stricter but just as safer for current new furniture than for old furniture. 

What to do if there is an increased formaldehyde concentration in the rooms?

Possible sources of formaldehyde can be furniture, wall coverings, panelling, chipboard, plywood, disinfectants, cleaning products, cosmetics or tobacco smoke. However, chipboard in walls, floors and furniture, where formaldehyde is contained in various compounds in the glue resin, is almost always responsible for increased concentrations in living areas.

Prevention: When buying, make sure that chipboard has been awarded the environmental angel. This marks formaldehyde-free products. When buying furniture, ask about the classification of the chipboard used. Seal cuts or drill holes, as formaldehyde can escape at these points.

Refurbishment: Items that are suspected of releasing a lot of formaldehyde into the air should be removed from the apartment, eg older chipboard furniture. If entire walls or floors are made of chipboard, a building surveyor should be consulted about the possibilities of sealing or installing vapor barriers. The irritating effects disappear once the formaldehyde exposure stops. Unlike other harmful chemicals, formaldehyde does not accumulate in the human body.

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