Sources of Formaldehyde in the Home

You may recognize formaldehyde as the stinky stuff you used to preserve your dissection projects in science class. Russian chemist Aleksandr Butlerov first reported finding formaldehyde in the mid 19th century, and since then formaldehyde has found its way into a number of products. You can find formaldehyde in the transmission and brakes of your car, in a “dark room” where film is developed, at a drug testing center, and much more. But this helpful chemical is also extremely dangerous to humans and is commonly found in homes where it can lead to serious illness.

The indoor air quality and healthy home experts at E3 INNOVATE are here to educate Nashville homeowners about where you may find formaldehyde in your own own home and how to reduce your risk of excess exposure!

In Your Cupboards

These common products are almost impossible to escape in most homes. And though these individual products may not pose an immediate threat to your indoor air quality (IAQ), using too many of them too often can start to add up.

Cleaning Products Containing Formaldehyde

If you like to keep a clean home, like many of us do, you have a cupboard or two full of cleaning products. Detergents, carpet cleaners, disinfectants, and liquid soaps will all contain levels of formaldehyde.

Cosmetic Products Containing Formaldehyde

Many shampoos (even baby shampoo!) contain formaldehyde, but some of the highest concentrations will be in nail varnishes and hardeners.

Office Equipment Containing Formaldehyde

Electronic equipment like computers, televisions, photocopiers and printers will also contain this harmful chemical.

Other Products Containing Formaldehyde

Many adhesives, paints, paper, lacquers and insecticides use formaldehyde as a preservative and should be kept in an enclosed area away from your living space (like the garage).

Formaldehyde In Your Home

The unfortunate truth is, the two largest offenders when it comes to releasing formaldehyde in your home are 1) combustion (smoking, cooking, candle burning, etc.) and 2) the materials that make up the construction of your home ( wood, carpet and furniture). Formaldehyde is used to create the resin for medium density fiberboard (MDF) and other pressed woods like plywood. It is also used in many insulation materials.

Formaldehyde and your Health

Although every individual’s tolerance to formaldehyde is different, the most common symptoms of exposure include upper respiratory irritation, including sore throat, itching and burning in the nose, and nasal congestion, as well as eye irritation, including burning, itching, redness, and tearing of the eyes. According to the US Department of Labor, formaldehyde is a carcinogen and has been shown to cause cancer in humans.

Individuals with allergies and asthma may be more susceptible to the potential effects of formaldehyde. It’s important to pay attention to symptoms and note when symptoms flair. Do you or a loved one feel better after leaving the house? This may be a sign of poor indoor air quality, and formaldehyde may be part of the concern.

Reducing Your Formaldehyde Exposure

If you felt disheartened when browsing this list of dangerous materials and unpleasant symptoms, don’t fret just yet. It’s near impossible to imagine a home with no cleaning products, electronics, nail polish, furniture or wood; but that doesn’t mean you can still breathe clean and healthy air in your own home. The first step is to understand exactly how much formaldehyde is in your home, by testing your indoor air quality.

After we have a clear picture of your current exposure, E3 INNOVATE will work with you and your family to install a home ventilation and purification system. We will also seal up the leaky areas of your home and duct work that could be allowing formaldehyde to migrate into the living space. Controlling the ventilation and sealing your home and duct work is essential for breathing clean air all year round.

E3 INNOVATE & The Whole Home Approach

Formaldehyde can be a problem throughout your entire home, which means solving the issue requires a whole home approach. When you trust E3 INNOVATE with increasing your IAQ by decreasing your formaldehyde exposure, we will make sure we look at your entire home as a connected system. Installing the right ventilation system will not do you any good without a proper air seal, and air purification will not help you breathe any easier if your ductwork is leaky and inefficient. So, start breathing easier in your Nashville home with the IAQ experts at E3 INNOVATE!