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What is Formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a chemical commonly used in the manufacture of building materials and numerous household products. At room temperature, formaldehyde vaporizes into the air, potentially causing serious health problems. It is also a by-product of combustion process. When you burn things like natural gas, wood, gasoline, or tobacco, formaldehyde gas is released into the air.

The most significant sources of formaldehyde in homes are:

  • pressed wood products (e.g. particle board, plywood paneling, and medium density fiberboard [MDF])

  • foam insulation

  • carpets

  • drapery fabrics

  • resins 

  • glues

  • cigarettes 

  • un-vented fuel-burning appliances (e.g. gas stoves or kerosene heaters)

Health Effects of Formaldehyde:

  • eye, nose, throat burning and irritation

  • nausea

  • skin rashes

  • breathing difficulties for some people

  • asthma attacks (triggered by high concentrations) 

Formaldehyde is also considered a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) and is classified as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) by the EPA.