Formaldehyde is used a lot in manufacturing, primarily as an adhesive or glue to bind materials like laminate wood flooring, fiber board, plywood, etc. It’s also found in high levels in carpet coatings and in cigarette smoke, fumes from fuel burning appliances, kerosene heaters. The important point, however, is that formaldehyde does release a gas into indoor areas where these materials have been used. Most recently, a Lumber Liquidator’s Chinese flooring product was found to release fairly high levels of formaldehyde and creating many health concerns.
Should you be concerned about formaldehyde gas in your indoor air? If you’ve had any of that Chinese laminate flooring installed, yes. Though most of us are exposed to low levels of formaldehyde on a daily basis, it isn’t something you want to breathe, as it doesn’t take a lot to reach a point of toxicity. And higher levels are going to create symptoms like burning, watery eyes, irritated throat, nausea, breathing problems, and new or worsened asthma attacks. Long term, formaldehyde is known to cause nasopharyngeal cancer and myeloid leukemia and no one needs that. If you have any kind of laminate or hardwood flooring, I would at least test the air in your home and find out what is there or not, for your own peace of mind.
If you’re pregnant, you definitely don’t want formaldehyde or any other chemical pollutant in the air you’re breathing, and certainly not when your baby gets here. Formaldehyde gas has been linked to various birth defects, brain damage, deformities, and more. It just isn’t good to breathe, period. Air quality during pregnancy is very important, and some say almost as important as your diet. Great care should be taken to ensure than your indoor air is as clean as possible, using the best home air filtration systems you can find with substantial activated carbon filters, HEPA filters, and UV if that’s an option. The UV light is very good for destroying airborne bacteria, mold spores, viruses and VOC’s (volatile organic chemicals) in the air that contribute to odors as well as a variety of unpleasant health effects.
What to do: you can easily use a formaldehyde gas detection kit to find out if there is any of that pollutant floating around in your home. A good brand is BHC and it’s under $100. Or, (and this is recommended if you’re pregnant) you can buy an air cleaner that is capable of removing gases like formaldehyde, particles, dust mites, VOC’s, etc. A very good air cleaner for this purpose is the Austin HealthMate Plus. It has a significant amount of quality carbon, it’s designed to remove chemicals like formaldehyde and others, as well as a medical grade HEPA filter, great warranty, handles 1500 square feet and it’s under $650.
Regardless, if you think you may have formaldehyde in your home or even if you’re not sure, at least buy a test kit and find out. You don’t want to end up with problems down the road from this chemical, and it’s proven to cause issues. If you did have Chinese laminate flooring installed like the type from Lumber Liquidators, definitely consider getting an air filtration system to protect your health. There also seems to be a class-action suit going on for this, so you may want to consult an attorney to find out what your options are.
Hi, it’s Rex Murphy at Air Purifiers and Cleaners.com. We regularly publish articles like this to help people avoid the hazards of indoor air pollution and live better lives.