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Formaldehyde: a colorless, toxic, potentially carcinogenic, water-soluble gas, having a pungent odor, usually derived from methyl alcohol by oxidation. The most common way to be exposed to formaldehyde is by inhaling it through the air containing off-gasses. Doing so causes such symptoms as irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. High levels and long-term formaldehyde exposure may cause some types of cancers. Formaldehyde can affect anyone but the group of people more likely to be influenced are young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with underlying conditions such as asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory illness and chronic conditions.

At room temperature, Formaldehyde becomes a gas, making it part of the larger group of chemicals called volatile organic compounds or VOCs. Knowing what could cause higher levels in your home can help to protect your health and the health of your family. Some common reasons formaldehyde could be at higher levels in your home are:

Tobacco Smokers: Tobacco smoke contains formaldehyde raising the levels of this chemical to be easily inhaled by others. Additionally, it can settle into the fabrics and walls of the home over time causing many adverse health effects.

Common Household Products: Glues, paints, coatings, lacquers and finishes, paper products, permanent press fabrics, preservatives used in some medicines, cosmetics, dishwashing liquids and fabric softeners, fertilizers, and pesticides.

New Construction Homes or New Products: Some manufactured wood products such as flooring and furniture and some fabrics can cause higher levels of formaldehyde in the home. The manufactured wood products could be things like plywood, particleboard, laminate flooring, cabinets, and furniture. Some helpful hints from the CDC and ATSDR for products with low or no formaldehyde, consider the following:

• Furniture, wood cabinetry, or flooring made without urea-formaldehyde (UF) glues
• Pressed-wood products that meet ultra-low emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) or no added formaldehyde (NAF) requirements
• Products labeled “No VOC/Low VOC” (volatile organic compound)
• Insulation that does not have UF foam

A good practice is to wash all permanent-press clothing and things such as fabric curtains before using them. Also, keeping new products in a space outside your living area for a short period to release toxic gases could help to lower these levels. Increasing ventilation when bringing in products that may be a source of formaldehyde as well as regular use of air conditioning and dehumidifiers will help to reduce off-gasses and making sure to utilize exhaust fans for proper air circulation.

Learn more from the Consumer Product Safety Commission about products that contain formaldehyde

Coastal Air Assessments adheres to IICRC’s strict assessment standards to ensure that we deliver a comprehensive air quality analysis that current or prospective Florida home and business owners can trust.

At Coastal Air Assessments, we’ll provide a detailed indoor air quality assessment that will get to the root of a potential mold issue and identify sensible solutions so that you and your family can breathe a little easier. Contact us today for your free consultation.