How to Test the Air for Formaldehyde

Something that is found in almost every household and everyday items, formaldehyde can be extremely dangerous to human health if found in large amounts. Excessive amounts of formaldehyde exposure can result in a number of health effects that range between mild allergies to more severe effects like terminal illnesses and cancer. 

In this article, we go over what formaldehyde is, where it can be found and how you can test your building’s formaldehyde’s levels to ensure proper treatment and safety. 

What is Formaldehyde?

Simply put, formaldehyde is a gas that is commonly used to make building materials and a number of household products as well as other chemicals. Humans are typically exposed to formaldehyde through inhalation, absorption through the skin and, in some cases, ingestion. Small amounts of formaldehyde can be found in certain foods or liquids in minor cases. 

Oftentimes, small dosages of this gas will not be harmful to humans. It is only until this gas is exposed in high numbers that they become dangerous to the health condition. 

Where Does Formaldehyde Come From?

Because formaldehyde is used in most building materials and household products, its origins can range from a number of products. Some common sources of considerable levels of formaldehyde are:

  • Shampoos
  • Cosmetics
  • Press-wood products
  • Plywood
  • Paneling
  • Foam insulation
  • Synthetic fabrics
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Fuel-burning appliances (gas stoves & wood-burning stoves)
  • Kerosene space heaters
  • Particleboard

It’s important to note these potential areas of formaldehyde exposure in your home or workplace to ensure it’s properly tested if you suspect large quantities. 

What Can Happen If I’m Exposed to Formaldehyde?

Exposure of formaldehyde, in small quantities, is not harmful to humans. However, once you’re exposed in consistent and larger amounts, the health effects can be serious. 

In furniture, rugs, lotions, laundry detergents and more, formaldehyde can be causing effects ranging from skin irritation to cancer. 

The more common side effects of such exposure can include:

  • Burning eyes, nose and throat
  • Skin irritation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Asthmatic attacks
  • Leukemia
  • Terminal illnesses

If you suspect that you’ve been exposed to large amounts of formaldehyde or you have been experiencing similar symptoms defined above, it is of the utmost importance to check your health. 

What To Do Next

Visit your family doctor to ensure proper health. The next step would be to properly test your air for abnormal amounts of formaldehyde. 

In testing your home or workplace, you can use air test kits or Formaldehyde Screen Checks (FOSC).  To find the best method of testing, contact your local certified laboratory to get in touch with experienced professionals today!