Formaldehyde belongs to the VOC family: with low molecular weight, this substance has the property of becoming gaseous at room temperature. Formaldehyde is an eye, nose and throat irritant. Since 2004, WHO considers it as "carcinogenic" of the nasopharynx (throat) and nasal cavities.
This irritant gas can also be fatal:
- in high concentrations in air,
- at very low doses if swallowed.
Some epidemiological studies on the effects of prolonged exposure to formaldehyde also highlighted the allergic effects and effect on the respiratory system.
According to the scientific literature, potential sources of formaldehyde are:
• chemical reactivity between ozone and some VOCs in the air;
• the building and decoration products containing formaldehyde-based compounds: binders or urea-formaldehyde adhesives, particularly in the chipboard and plywood;
• different sources of combustion: tobacco smoke, candles, incense sticks, open fireplaces, gas stoves, oil stoves;
• common use products such as cleaning and treatment products (insulating foams, lacquers, glues, varnishes, inks, resins, paper, household products, pesticides). Formaldehyde is also used in textiles, body care products and in some personal care and cosmetic products.
Formaldehyde as a consumer product component will be gradually withdrawn from the market from 01/01/2015 onwards.
It does not mean that it will be possible to completely eliminate it from everyday life since this substance is released during the degradation process of many materials and products or during their combustion.
Therefore, the goal is to reduce its concentration in the air to a safe level.
- In order to eliminate any health risk, there must be sufficient ventilation because formaldehyde is highly reactive.
- Be sure to limit the sources of emissions indoors by choosing products and materials that emit the least amount of formaldehyde. Agglomerated wood panels must particularly be monitored. Top performers comply with emission class E1 (EN 13966).