Formaldehyde (HCHO) is a colorless gas with a pungent odor. Formaldehyde has found wide industrial usage as a fungicide and germicide, and in disinfectants and embalming fluids. The serious sources of indoor airborne formaldehyde are furniture, floor underlayment insulation, and environmental tobacco smoke. Urea formaldehyde (UF) is mixed with adhesives to bond veneers, particles, and fibers. It has been identified as a potential hazardous source.
Formaldehyde gas may cause severe irritation to the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract and eyes. Repeated exposure to formaldehyde may cause dermatitis either from irritation or allergy. The gas can be removed from the air by an absorptive filter of potassium permanganate-impregnated alumina pellets or fumigation using ammonia. Exposure to formaldehyde may be reduced by using exterior grade pressed wood products that contain phenol resins. Maintaining moderate temperature and low humidity can reduce emissions from formaldehyde-containing material. The chemical is intensely irritating to mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, and skin. Repeated exposure may cause dermatitis and skin sensitization. This substance has been listed as a carcinogen.
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