Indoor Air Quality – Formaldehyde Toxicity in Your Home
Formaldehyde is a colorless, highly toxic chemical with a strong pickle-like or pungent odor even at low concentrations. It is highly flammable, & explosive in nature and part of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, formaldehyde is normally present at low levels (less than 0.03 parts per million) in both indoor and outdoor air. But its increased concentration can reduce the Indoor Air Quality and pose serious health threats.
People are exposed to formaldehyde by inhaling the formaldehyde laden air, as this chemical is quickly broken down in the air. Formaldehyde can also be absorbed through skin, by eating food or drinking water containing formaldehyde.
But from where does this toxic chemical come?
Formaldehyde is used in many household items including building and insulating material, adhesives, and many other consumer products such as:
- Paper product coating
- Glues and adhesives
- Grocery Bags
- Pressed-wood products such as Plywood, particleboard, fiberboard
- Decorative paneling
- Some cosmetics and personal care products
- Fabric dyes
- Wallpaper and paints
Potential Health Effect of Formaldehyde
Severity of the symptoms depend upon the concentration of formaldehyde in the source and how long you are exposed to it. If you are sensitive to formaldehyde like chemicals then you may show symptoms earlier than others. Common symptoms include:
- Dizziness and nausea
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Skin irritation
- Watery eyes
According to Cancer.org exposure to high amounts of formaldehyde is linked to some types of cancers but the effects from low concentrations are yet not clear.
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) lists formaldehyde as “known to be a human carcinogen.”
The EPA has classified formaldehyde as a “probable human carcinogen.”
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has concluded that formaldehyde is “carcinogenic to humans”.
How to Limit your Exposure to Formaldehyde?
- As per the EPA use “exterior-grade” pressed-wood products. These products give off less formaldehyde. Hence, restrict yourself to use alternate products such as lumber, metal, or solid wood furniture.
- Always ask about the formaldehyde content in any pressed-wood products including furniture, cabinetry, building material etc before buying.
- Do not smoke inside your home.
- Wash durable-press fabrics before use.
- Ensure proper ventilation. Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors.
- Use exhaust fans especially after purchasing product containing formaldehyde.
- Avoid cosmetics containing formaldehyde.
- Maintaining moderate temperature and low levels of relative humidity reduces the concentration of formaldehyde.
Other names for Formaldehyde labelled on products:
- Formic aldehyde
- Methyl aldehyde
- Methylene glycol
- Methylene oxide
If you are worried about formaldehyde concentrations in your home or want to improve the indoor air quality of your home, call Induct Clean. We offer all types of commercial and residential cleaning.