Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, pungent-smelling gas, disinfectant, preservative, and a common chemical used in manufacturing. Formaldehyde is an intermediate in the oxidation (or combustion) of methane as well as other carbon compounds.
SOURCES OF FORMALDEHYDE
Indoor sources of formaldehyde include fuel-burning appliances, tobacco smoke, glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics, paper product coatings, other textiles such as carpets, upholstry, drapery material; urea-formaldehyde foam insulation, particleboard (used as sub-flooring and shelving and in cabinetry and furniture); hardwood plywood paneling (used for decorative wall covering and used in cabinets and furniture); and medium density fiberboard (used for drawer fronts, cabinets, and furniture tops). Other construction materials with formaldehyde include soft plywood, flake board, and oriented strand board. All of these products off-gas for a period of time. Formaldehyde is released more readily at warm temperatures and high humidity.
Off gasing of formaldehyde can cause sore throat, watery burning eyes, difficulting breathing, nausea, headaches, wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; siniusitis, severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, other respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea and may even cause cancer.
OSHA has set a limit of 0.75 ppm as a safe limit. If you think or feel that you have a formaldehyde problem independent testing is essential.
HOW TO REDUCE FORMALDEHYDE EXPOSURE
- Use adequate ventilation thru out the building – Use air conditioning & dehumidifiers to maintain moderate temperature and reduce humidity levels
- Place a barrier between formaldehyde containing surfaces and the indoor air – such as applying latex paint over the wallpaper, etc.
- Use protective equipment and clothing if working around formaldehyde
- Remove the material or piece of furniture from the living environment until it stops off gassing
It is one of the most common problems found in today’s homes and offices. A certified indoor air quality consultant can test for formaldehyde levels. On site testing is available. The information you are provided from these tests will protect you, your family, friends, relatives, and employees.