Product Sector Guidance: Windows, Doors, and Skylights

Facade of modern building with energy efficient cladding and windows

Choosing and Installing Windows, Doors and Skylights with Fewer Hazardous Chemicals

Materials used to manufacture windows, doors, and skylights are similar to other sectors and can include many of the same chemicals mentioned in previous sections. For example, wood doors can have potential formaldehyde and flame retardant issues because of an insulated core or a surface veneer treatment, while vinyl or painted products can contain additional hazardous content. Overall, health complaints from the products are not as prevalent given the smaller amount of materials compared to, for example, the square footage of painted walls or installed insulation.

Installation brings its own concerns, as one-component spray foam is often used to seal the area around a window or door opening. This spray foam is not as toxic as the 2-component used for insulation, but still releases isocyanates. Additionally, VOCs can off gas from adhesives used to construct windows, doors, or skylights. With windows and doors typically being made locally, products could be delivered shortly after application of these various chemicals, potentially increasing the amount of exposure.

Information in this section draws from and adapts the work of Habitable. Visit Habitable’s Informed website for the most updated guidance.

Product TypeChemicals of ConcernHealth ConcernsGuidance

Doors, Windows, and Skylights


Adhesives (silicone, polyurethane)

Solvents (toluene, xylene)

PBT, reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruptor, infertility

Cancer and liver toxicity, confusion, death, respiratory irritation, gene mutation

Choose products with third-party certifications 
Composite wood windows and doorsFormaldehydeCancer, gene damage, asthma trigger, birth defects, eye and skin irritantChoose NAF (No Added Formaldehyde) products or CARB phase 2 compliant products with Ultra Low Added Formaldehyde 
Insulated doors, windows, and skylights

Isocyanates (MDI, PDI)

Halogenated flame retardants

Cancer, asthma trigger, birth defects, eye and skin irritant

Endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, cancer, and birth defects

Choose products with third party certifications
Painted Doors, Windows, and SkylightsAlkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs)Endocrine disruptor, persistent bioaccumulative toxicantChoose products with third party certifications
Vinyl windows, doors, and skylightsPhthalatesReproductive,  developmental effects, respiratory problemsChoose Energy Star fiberglass products instead

Composite Wood Products

Formaldehyde is used as a binder in the production of composite wood products including  hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard. Emissions from resins in composite wood products is one of the main sources of formaldehyde exposures. Although wood naturally emits trace amounts of formaldehyde, added formaldehyde in composite wood products should be avoided.

Instead, look for products that have been tested and approved as No Added Formaldehyde (NAF) through (California Air Resources Board) CARB or Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). At the very least, ensure that all composite wood products are low-emissions certified as compliant with CARB Phase 2 or TSCA Title VI. 

Emissions Standards for No Added Formaldehyde-Based Resins

  • No higher than 0.04 parts per million of formaldehyde for 90 percent of the 3 months of routine quality control testing data.

  • No test result higher than 0.05 parts per million of formaldehyde for hardwood plywood and 0.06 parts per million for particleboard, medium-density fiberboard, and thin medium-density fiberboard.

Healthier Windows, Doors, and Skylights

Look for these labels:


Vinyl productsCARB phase 2 compliant indoor doors with low-formaldehyde emissionsCARB phase 2 / TSCA Title VI with Ultra Low Emitting Formaldehyde Label

ENERGY STAR fiberglass or wood windows and doors

Pre-finished solid wood doors

Composite wood products tested and approved as NAF (No added formaldehyde)

Use low-VOC certified adhesives