Being economically feasible and stylish simultaneously is making the use of MDF skirting boards very popular. But the question remains- Is it safe to use an artificially synthesised wood fibre? Does it release hazardous toxins?
MDFs are manufactured by binding waxes and resins with wooden fibres at high temperature and pressure. One of the adhesives used is Formaldehyde, which is known to be a carcinogen. Although, Formaldehyde has very serious health risks at higher concentration, the amount of formaldehyde gas released by MDFs is not harmful but it is more than that emitted by softwood resins namely phenol-formaldehyde. It is cited that 0.1 ppm (parts per million) formaldehyde is safe concentration. No cases of cancer patients have ever been found due to MFD skirting board use despite being widely rumoured.
The other concern is dust generated by MDFs which can cause asthma and other respiratory diseases. It is also a carcinogen. This is not a concern for finished products but carpenters can suffer through this due to continuous exposure. The health hazards caused by dust can be effectively minimised.
Local exhaust ventilation, if properly designed reduces the effects of dust further. People who work in MDF machining should wear masks.
Hence, both the dust and formaldehyde vapour and can be reduced by using the above mentioned methods easily. Once primed, double coated, and painted, MDF striking boards are safe to use in households. Many MDFs are covered with a laminate which keeps the off gas inside the furniture. Although, some people might be sensitive to off gas released by MDFs, thus they should avoid using it.
Other than that MDF skirting boards are fire resistant and termite resistant. So in a nutshell, with minimal precautions and care, MDFs are safe to use.