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Hidden dangers of home decorating

MORE than 91 percent of Shanghai homes tested were found to have high levels of formaldehyde in the air in summer and 79 percent had high levels of volatile organic compounds, such as ammonia and benzene.

In spring and winter, the proportion of households with high levels of these major air pollutants dropped to 73.4 and 61.6 percent respectively, said the Shanghai Association of Environmental Protection Industry, which tested 2,057 households over the past two years.

To increase awareness of indoor air pollution and help protect themselves better, the association will give free tests for formaldehyde - which can be found in building materials such as wood, paint and glue - to 10,000 local households that plan renovating and decorating, officials announced yesterday, World Earth Day.

Families can book the service by calling 5115-7376 or downloading an application form from the Website (

"It is too late to offer advice after decorating so we want to give help beforehand," said Li Wei, the association's vice secretary-general. "We can offer consultation on proper selection of green materials and test after decorating is finished."

Li said people should get their indoor air tested twice - seven days after finishing decorating and after the house had been furnished.

He also warned people not to blindly trust so-called formaldehyde-free materials as formaldehyde can take up to 15 years to be released.

Good ventilation was important when temperatures were high, Li said.


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