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Minimizing Formaldehyde Indoors

Man on a ladder installing dry wood.

Formaldehyde is an air pollutant whose many sources can include both natural sources and man-made products. Products including, but not limited to, some furniture, building materials and paints. Because of these sources, formaldehyde is present in nearly every home.

In this article, we will go over what formaldehyde is, its sources, and how to reduce or minimize levels of exposure in your home.

What is Formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with that is flammable at room temperature. It is one of the chemicals in a larger family of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

 What Does Formaldehyde Smell Like?

You may notice the presence of formaldehyde due to a smell in your house. Formaldehyde has a strong, pungent odor that can be smelled even at low levels. When you purchase a product that that can emit formaldehyde, consider leaving it outside your living space until it no longer gives off a chemical odor.

How Did Formaldehyde Get into My House?  What Are The sources?

Many sources of formaldehyde include products we use frequently or use within our homes, including the following:

  • Building materials and insulation
  • Emissions from un-vented, fuel burning appliances, like gas stoves or kerosene space heaters
  • Consumer products including the following:
    • Antiseptics and cleaning agents
    • Household products such as glues, permanent press fabrics, carpets, paints and coatings, lacquers and finishes, and paper products
    • Cosmetics
    • Fertilizers and pesticides
    • insulation for electrical uses (i.e., wiring and appliances)
    • Resins used in the manufacture of composite wood products (i.e., hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard)
    • Medicines and vitamins
    • Paints and varnishes
    • Preserved foods
    • Dishwashing liquids and fabric softeners
  • Tobacco smoke from consumers products such as cigarettes
  • Naturally produced during the decay of plant material in the soil during normal chemical processes in most living organisms

What Are the Potential Effects of Formaldehyde Exposure.

Formaldehyde may lead to symptoms depending on your level of exposure and sensitivity. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), potential symptoms include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Coughing, wheezing, chest pains, and bronchitis
  • Ingestion may result in corrosion of the gastrointestinal tract and inflammation and ulceration of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach
  • High levels of exposure may cause some types of cancers

How Can I Reduce Exposure to Formaldehyde?

Many sources of formaldehyde are common within daily life. While it may seem unavoidable, there are several methods to  reduce your exposure to formaldehyde including the following:

  • Choose low-formaldehyde products when available. During building or remodeling your home, products with less formaldehyde may be available. Furniture and pressed-wood board made with laminated surfaces release less formaldehyde. There may also be alternatives in the glues or adhesives you use that contain formaldehyde.
  • Air out new furniture and pressed-wood products. Consumer products such as plywood and particle board emit formaldehyde. These products release the highest concentrations of formaldehyde while they are new. The easiest method to removing formaldehyde from furniture is by airing it out before moving it into your living space.
  • Avoid smoking indoors. Tobacco smoke is one of the sources of formaldehyde. Whether you’re smoking or near someone smoking, you will be exposed to the pollutants it emits. Avoiding any smoking indoors will help to reduce the concentrations of these pollutants and will provide improved ventilation of the smoke into the air.
  • Utilize an air purifier. Air purifiers filter the indoor air from pollutants, potentially including formaldehyde.
  • Ensure ventilation of indoor spaces. The simplest way to ventilate an indoor space is by opening doors and windows that access outdoor air. Ventilate spaces where you are using any products that source formaldehyde such as paint. Install exhaust to the outdoors for any combustion appliances.
  • Wash new clothes and take dry-cleaning out of bags. Some permanent-press fabrics emit formaldehyde. Washing these types of new clothes before wearing them will lower your level of exposure from pollutants they release. Air out dry-cleaned clothes by taking them out of the bag.
  • Keep low indoor temperatures and humidity. Emission of formaldehyde may increase due to high temperatures or humidity. Keeping these both low will help to reduce emissions.

How TruSens Air Purifiers Work to Reduce the Presence of Formaldehyde and Other VOCs.

We understand that many of the products that emit formaldehyde are unavoidable within your home. That’s why TruSens air purifiers make use of an active carbon filter to reduce the presence of odors and gases commonly found in indoor air (including VOCs, like formaldehyde). TruSens also offers a specialty odor filter that is engineered to help eliminate odors and reduce VOCs.