Formaldehyde is a flammable, colorless gas with a very pungent odor. It has many other names, such as; methanol, methyl aldehyde, methylene oxide, formalin, and formol.
It is widely produced around the world as a preservative and a disinfectant. Used in textile finishing and production of resins which acts as adhesives and binders for wood products, pulp, paper, glass wool, and rock wool as well as some plastics, coatings, paints, varnishes, and industrial chemicals.
Exposure to formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen; can cause asthma, allergies, lung and liver problems, damage to your immune system and chronic poisoning in severe cases. It also causes cancer of the nasal cavity due to long term exposure to high levels of formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is also commonly used in hospitals; in water based solutions called formalin or in a powder form know as paraformaldehyde. It’s used in these areas histopathology and anatomical pathology labs or in forensic mortuaries. These solutions are used for fixing human organs and tissues after autopsy or biopsy or for a preservative and disinfectant in embalming fluids, gels and surface packs.
Health Canada and the Canadian Government (as well as other countries) have been taking steps and implementing new protocols for people who work or are exposed to and those who use Formaldehyde (any form). Changes have been made to guidelines to ensure exposure levels are low and to make sure all safety equipment is available and proper safety training is conducted. Health Canada has also made changes to the guidelines and controls for labeling requirements.
Formaldehyde is also found in homes and workplaces. Many household items produce formaldehyde; therefore, suggestions for how to reduce the levels are indicated in the chart below:
|Cigarettes (tobacco smoke)||Always smoke outside, never inside.|
|Cabinets & Furniture made of particle board or medium density fiberboard||Buy these products covered with plastic laminate or coated on all sides.|
|Humidity Levels||Should be monitored; high humidity can cause products to release formaldehyde into the air.|
|Permanent Press Clothing & Sheets||Air out before use.|
|Ventilation System||Ensure proper ventilation is in place when using products that contains formaldehyde or any forms.|
|Engines||Don’t run any kind in spaces attached to your house or near any open windows and doors of your home.|
|Fireplaces & Wood Stoves||When in use, make sure proper ventilation is in place.|
It is always a good idea to have an indoor air quality monitor installed in your home or workplace.
For suggestions on a fixed gas detection system, please visit www.critical-environment.com.
“Formaldehyde”. Health Canada. 25 August 2010. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/air/in/poll/construction/formaldehyde-eng.php>.
“Formaldehyde”. Wikipedia. 27 October 2012. Web. 8 Oct 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formaldehyde>.
“Formaldehyde in Consumer Products”. Australian Competiion & Consumer Commission: Product Safety Australia. 2012. Web. 5 Oct 2012. <http://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/973697>.
“Formaldehyde Toxic Chemical”. Organic Natural Health. Web. 8 Oct 2012. <http://www.health-report.co.uk/formaldehyde.html>.