After the recent flooring scare in the media, we should all be aware of formaldehyde. It is in everything from building materials to personal care products. It is also naturally occurring and can be found in wood and the atmosphere. BUT, because it’s everywhere does not make it healthy!
In fact, it is a probable Carcinogen according to the EPA and is listed in the President’s Cancer Panel report as a known carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recognizes formaldehyde as a human carcinogen, so does the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Yet, formaldehyde is used abundantly throughout the world. Paints, pesticides, cosmetics, bedding, wood products, clothing, and combustion from cigarette smoke and appliances are just a few sources. Even a “dollar bill uses ink that contains formaldehyde” and our automobiles; cars and trucks are laden with this chemical from bumper to bumper. www.formaldehydefacts.org
California has set standards to limit formaldehyde exposure that are being adopted across the country and products are being forced to reduce the amount of this carcinogenic chemical in manufacturing. www.arb.ca.gov However, our exposures are still way too high and consumers need to be aware of the amount of products that contain formaldehyde.
New construction and remodeling in our homes can raise formaldehyde levels. Also read your personal care products, many contain formaldehyde or derivatives of this chemical. It’s name may be disguised under various terms one being –Urea. Monitor for formaldehyde every 5 years, or if you have done remodeling or have just moved into a new home, you should test after the completion of your project, to make sure you air is safe and ventilated. Hire an Indoor Air Quality Professional to air test your home to see what your formaldehyde levels are and remove unnecessary sources.
This article was contributed by the Public Education Sub-committee: Steve Levy, Caroline Blazovsky, Brian Karr, Corey Levy, Mark Levy and Al Rabin.
Indoor Air Quality Association 1120 Rt 73, Suite 200 Mt Laurel, NJ 08054