Everything You Need to Know About Formaldehyde
Ever have that feeling of opening a box of a brand new toy, then suddenly, the oozing smell of formaldehyde starts tripping around your nose. Yes, we all had those moments. But what do you know formaldehyde? Is it really dangerous as others said it to be? Let’s find out!
Facts About Formaldehyde
- Formaldehyde is a colorless yet flammable gas that produces a strong odor that can sting your nose. It’s mostly found in resins used by manufacturers to their products such as hardwood, plywood, particleboard, and other types of building materials. As a side note, it can also be found on tobacco smoke too, let alone these common household materials listed below:
- Fabric softeners
- Paper-based products
- Dishwashing Liquids
- As you can see, formaldehyde is everywhere. But wait! Before you panic and lose yourself, here are more facts about formaldehyde that you should know.
It’s More Prominent Indoors
- Formaldehyde produces a strong odor indoors. It ranges from 0.02 to 4 parts per million (ppm). Outdoors, on the other hand, contains less/lower levels of formaldehyde concentration and usually starts at 0.001 up to 0.02 ppm in urban areas, how much more in rural areas.
- The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) conducted a study that shows the following symptoms once formaldehyde is breathed.
- Levels 0.1 to 0.5 ppm: Can cause nasal and eye irritation, neurological effects, and increased risk of asthma and/or allergies.
- Levels 0.6 to 1.9 ppm: Will lead to eczema and negative changes in lung function.
- Being exposed to high levels of formaldehyde exposure increases the risk of getting various types of cancer.
Some Even MORE Facts About Formaldehyde
- Researchers conducted a study about this and it shows that unpacking and assembling DIY furniture also produces formaldehyde. It’s a bit surprising because it is not only limited to adhesives and wood products only to begin with.
- The study also shows that assembling a 2-door wardrobe increases the formaldehyde concentration inside the home to a higher level. However, this depends on the type of finish the wardrobe you’re assembling. Wardrobes with a glossy fully-lacquered finish tend to emit high levels of formaldehyde compared to ones without it.
- Now, assuming that your home is filled with these “formaldehyde” stuff, you might be wondering why your home still smells fresh despite all of it. The reason behind this is that they are the type of formaldehyde that “off-gasses”, which means they only come off from these products for a designated period of time and will be gone thereafter.
- There’s very little release of chemical from these to the point where you have to go as near as possible to the product just to smell its scent. However, the effect was short-lived, and the formaldehyde concentration will revert back to normal in the coming days or so.
- When it comes to building materials, off-gassing occurs months prior to your purchase. It will turn to a much lower rate once these materials get to your home. However, low levels of formaldehyde can still be dangerous most especially for children and adults who are extra sensitive to such.
Extra Info About Formaldehyde
- Formaldehyde is at its highest on homes where people smoke too much.
- Formaldehyde is also found in adhesives used in composite wood products.
- Formaldehyde levels are the highest on new products and will lower as time goes by.
- Dated wood furniture still emits formaldehyde but only at a lower level.
- Dishwashing liquid, permanent press clothing, and even essentials like shampoos and soaps contain formaldehyde.
- Assuming that your home is high on formaldehyde, here are a few actions that you can do:
- If you’re a smoker, limit yourself on smoking to lower your home’s formaldehyde levels.
- Open your windows to let in fresh air.
- Use an air purifier to increase your home’s ventilation.
- Turn on your AC unit or dehumidifier to reduce heat and humidity emissions. High heat and humidity increase formaldehyde buildup.
- Have freshly brought no-iron fabric new items? Wash them as soon as possible to reduce their formaldehyde content.
- Taking care of our health should not be taken for granted. Start by letting yourself breath fresh and clean air by making your home produce low levels of formaldehyde as possible. An air purifier is a perfect choice to clean the air inside your home. Always remember that formaldehyde is everywhere and it’s up to us how to handle it to protect our health.