Formaldehyde is found in many plastic furniture and objects, but is considered carcinogenic. We explain why the substance is so dangerous and what it is all about.
Formaldehyde – what is it?
Formaldehyde is a stinging gas that is processed into plastics or is contained in various products as a binder. As a rule, we cannot smell formaldehyde, because only in high doses can the human nose perceive the gas. If the concentration is so strong, health effects can already be felt.
The problem: formaldehyde continuously evaporates from the products and is a health risk. Because studies have now shown that can. Already the one to affect health.
The Federal Environment Agency has followed a recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) that formaldehyde should not exceed one for substances in courtyards (one microgram per cubic meter).
For furniture and other wooden products, there is a limit value of 0.1 ml / m3 formaldehyde in the air in Germany. If more formaldehyde escapes, the product must not be sold. A limit of 0.2 percent formaldehyde applies to detergents and cleaning agents.
Tip: The Federal Environment Agency and the Federal Environment Ministry award the Blue angel. One of the criteria for the seal is that formaldehyde may only be contained in a very small amount.
It is also known as methanal or formalin and is often found, for example, in chipboard and furniture. Formaldehyde is also used as a disinfectant in hospitals and as a preservative in industry.
Health effects of formaldehyde
Cigarette smoke also contains formaldehyde.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / Pexels)
- Various national and international studies have shown that formaldehyde can cause cancer. Animal experiments have shown that high concentrations of formaldehyde in the air can cause tumors in the nasal cavity ().
- Not only can the mucous membranes be attacked, the eyes are also irritated by the material.
- Colds, and studies have shown that they can be caused by formaldehyde.
- Other symptoms include nausea, loss of consciousness and .
- Formaldehyde may also trigger and / or intensify.
Example cigarette smoke:
Cigarettes always contain a sugar compound that turns into formaldehyde when smoking. Anyone who smokes three cigarettes in a 30 m³ room blows them into the air. Irritation to the nose occurs at 0.08 ppm and even irritation to the throat at 0.5 ppm.
What does formaldehyde contain??
Formaldehyde makes clothes wrinkle-free.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / steinchen)
- nature: Formaldehyde is found in extremely small quantities even in fruits. However, there is no health risk here.
- Wood: Chipboard, prefabricated parquet and similar boards are often glued – the wood glue often contains formaldehyde. There are now emission classes from 0 to 3 for wood and wood products that indicate formaldehyde emissions. Make sure you only buy wood with emission class 0. There are hardly any exhalations or differences to natural wood.
- Varnishes and paints: Formaldehyde is often used as a preservative in paints. But also in wall colors, in dress and formaldehyde is always present in carpets.
- cleaning supplies: Detergent and cleaning agents used to contain so much formaldehyde that limit values have now been introduced. However, the limit values do not apply to industrial cleaners.
- dishes: Formaldehyde and melamine ensure that Melamine tableware does not break so easily. But if you heat the dishes, formaldehyde gases can escape.
- insulation: There is usually also formaldehyde in insulating foam and insulating wool.
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What to do about formaldehyde?
Paints and varnishes should not be kept in the apartment.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / kissu)
In the pharmacy you can get a room air test for formaldehyde. This is how you can find out if you should do anything about formaldehyde. You can then compare the determined value with the. To prevent formaldehyde, you can take some measures yourself:
- Place open paints, paints and glue tubes in the garden or garage instead of in the apartment.
- When buying wooden furniture, make sure that it has been tested for harmful substances. Eco and organic seals help with this.
- Certain flowers break down formaldehyde: green lilies, dragon trees, ivy and aloe vera are among them.
- solid wood is key: unlike chipboard, it contains no glue. This does not only apply to furniture. You should also choose solid wood parquet instead of laminate.
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