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Testing for formaldehyde in cabin's particle board Four years ago we placed particle board on the bedroom floors of our summer cabin, which then was covered with linoleum as the finished floor. We now hear many negatives about formaldehyde which exists in particle board. Is it safe? Is there any way to test the interior atmosphere without a big cost?

Imohl Brown Chico, Calif. For a professional measurement of the possible toxicity level in your summer house, get in touch with your public health department or an industrial hygienist recommended by your local poison control board.

Let that certified reading answer your question of safety. The poison control board telephone number should be listed in your phone directory on the first page, along with other emergency numbers.

A do-it-yourself tester is available from the 3M Company, PO Box 43157, St. Paul, Minn. 55164, which consists of a sealed packet that is opened and exposed to room air for 24 hours, then resealed and returned to the company.

A written report, we're told, is then mailed back in a couple of weeks, detailing the average formaldehyde concentration over the 24-hour period.

In February the tester was available for $35, plus local sales tax, if any.

Low levels of formaldehyde gas are common in the home from plywood, facial tissues, toilet paper, and permanent-press fabrics, among other materials besides particle board.

''No tolerance levels for 24-hour-per-day exposure have been established,'' writes Henry Spies of the Small Homes Council Building Research Council, East Haven, Vt. He adds: ''Concentrations of 0.2 p.p.m. (2 parts in 10 million) are not uncommon in the average home.''

Let us hear the results of your test if you make it.

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