Ingredient Database

ToxicFree Foundation / Ingredient Database / Formaldehyde
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    What is it?

    Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials. In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories. Formaldehyde also occurs naturally in the environment. It is produced in small amounts by most living organisms as part of normal metabolic processes.

    Key Information

    • Formaldehyde has long been a "suspected" carcinogen and now researchers confirm the chemical is "carcinogenic to humans."
    • Formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide
    • Formaldehyde; it is both a skin irritant and an allergen.
    • Formaldehyde is banned in Sweden and Japan

    More Information

    Routes of exposure
    The substance can be absorbed into the body by inhalation. 

    Inhalation risk
    A harmful concentration of this gas in the air will be reached very quickly on loss of containment. 

    Effects of short-term exposure
    The substance is severely irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. Inhalation of high concentrations may cause lung oedema, but only after initial corrosive effects on the eyes and the upper respiratory tract have become manifest. 

    Effects of long-term or repeated exposure
    Repeated or chronic inhalation of the vapour may cause chronic inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Repeated or prolonged contact may cause skin sensitization. This substance is carcinogenic to humans. 


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