Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
has produced this booklet to tell you
about formaldehyde and its potential
impact on indoor air quality. This
booklet describes what formaldehyde is,
what products it may be found in, where
you may come in contact with it, how
exposure to formaldehyde may affect your
health, and how you might reduce your
exposure to it.
an abridged version of the report. The
full report is 12 pages and can be
clicking this link
Formaldehyde is a colorless, reactive,
strong-smelling gas at room temperature.
It is one chemical in a large family of
chemical compounds called volatile
organic compounds (VOCs). The term
volatile means that the compounds
vaporize or become a gas at room
temperature. Formaldehyde can be
manufactured as a liquid (formalin) or a
solid (paraformaldehyde). Formaldehyde
is an important industrial chemical used
to make other chemicals and different
types of products, such as: home
furnishings, household cleaners, paints,
textiles, landscape and yard products,
medicinal and personal care products,
Formaldehyde can be released into the
air (off-gas) from materials and
products made with it.
Should You Be Concerned?
Formaldehyde exposure may potentially
cause a variety of symptoms and adverse
health effects, such as eye, nose,
throat, and skin irritation, coughing,
wheezing, and allergic reactions.
Long term exposure to high levels of
formaldehyde has been associated with
cancer in humans and laboratory animals.
Formaldehyde can affect people
differently. Some people are very
sensitive to formaldehyde at a certain
level while others may not have any
noticeable reaction to the same level.
Have Formaldehyde-Related Symptoms?
discussed above, formaldehyde can induce
several symptoms, such as watery eyes,
runny nose, burning sensations in the
eyes, nose, and throat, and headaches.
These symptoms may also occur because of
the common cold, the flu, or other
pollutants that may be present in the
indoor air. In general, if your symptoms
lessen when you are away from the home
or office but re-occur upon your return,
they may be caused by indoor air factors
including pollutants, such as
formaldehyde. Examine your environment.
Ask yourself a few questions to
determine if your symptoms may be
related to formaldehyde exposure.
the flooring or cabinets recently been
* Has remodeling
occurred using pressed-wood products
(i.e., wall paneling)?
new cabinets, wall coverings, or
furniture been installed?
* Has a
wood-burning stove or other combustion
source been used?
* Do you
or others smoke indoors?
answer is yes to any of these questions
and you have re-occurring symptoms as
described above, you could have been
exposed to formaldehyde. Therefore, you
may want to contact your physician
and/or state or local health department
for further assistance.
You can reduce
exposure to high levels of formaldehyde
or cabinets that contain a high
percentage of panel surface and edges
that are laminated or coated.
Unlaminated or uncoated (raw) panels of
pressed wood products will generally
emit more formaldehyde than those that
are laminated or coated.
alternative products not made with
urea-formaldehyde glues, such as wood
lumber or metal.