Most people are aware of familiar sources of indoor air pollution such as mold, dust and dander. But harmful air pollution comes from unfamiliar sources as well. Formaldehyde is one of these lesser-known pollutants.
How Does Formaldehyde Enter Your Home?
Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that becomes a gas at room temperature. Any product that uses formaldehyde or its precursors in the manufacturing process can release the chemical through the process of off-gassing. This off-gassing often come from new cabinets, the materials in new homes, and new furniture. Most of the out-gassing has ended once an item is a few years old, thus minimizing exposure to formaldehyde.
How Does Formaldehyde Affect Your Health?
Formaldehyde is normally found in our environment in small amounts – as small as 0.006 parts per million – but when air concentrations rise much higher, it can cause symptoms. Long-term exposure to formaldehyde in high levels may even cause cancer, according to the federal EPA.
What Are Symptoms of Exposure?
- Irritation of eyes, including a heavy burning sensation
- Irritation of throat and nose
How Do I Prevent Exposure?
Exposure cannot be prevented, but minimizing exposure to formaldehyde is definitely possible. If you’re installing new cabinets or building with new products, leave them in a garage or warehouse for a few days before installing them. When you are in a home with new materials, increase the ventilation by opening windows or using the central air. Also decrease the temperature and humidity in the air to reduce the rate of off-gassing.
How Do I Detect Formaldehyde?
Most experts agree that formaldehyde is fairly safe at levels below 0.10 parts per million. Passive formaldehyde monitors can be left in the home for a few days and then sent to a lab for analysis. If they show levels above what is recommended,take the above steps to reduce concentrations and then test again.
For more advice on how to prevent indoor air pollution, please contact the experts atWolff Mechanical. We have been committed to the health and comfort of Central Arizona families for over 20 years.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Phoenix Valley area of Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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