Formaldehyde is a colorless gas present in household products and industrial materials. Chronic exposure to formaldehyde can lead to an array of health complications. If low concentration levels of formaldehyde go undetected, it’s possible to develop formaldehyde poisoning.
For example, an industrial employee can breathe formaldehyde vapors emitted from the plants that manufacture the chemical. A hospital patient can develop formaldehyde poisoning from healthcare equipment that uses formalin (a type of formaldehyde) as a cleaning agent.
Understanding how to protect yourself from formaldehyde indoors starts with knowing the symptoms of formaldehyde exposure to look out for. Learn the most common symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning and prevent toxic exposure in your workplace or home.
Formaldehyde vapors interfere with the respiratory system when a person inhales fumes over an extended period. Chest discomfort, cough with or without sputum, and respiratory distress can occur even from short periods of exposure to formaldehyde. Individuals with asthma are also susceptible to asthmatic attacks after formaldehyde exposure.
Skin Rashes and Inflammation
Exposure to liquid formaldehyde is a known cause of contact dermatitis and other skin irritations. Formalin is a type of formaldehyde that a variety of healthcare settings commonly use as a sanitizing agent. Typical skin abnormalities correlated with formaldehyde exposure include drying, scaling, cracking, and discoloration.
Irritation of the Eyes, Nose, and Throat
One of the most common symptoms of formaldehyde exposure is eyes, nose, and throat pain. Formaldehyde vapors quickly irritate the mucus membranes since these are passageways into the body. Formaldehyde can cause issues in the eyes, nose, and throat, even at low concentration levels. A person exposed to formaldehyde is at risk of eye infections like conjunctivitis, throat inflammation, and nasal discomfort.
How an individual responds to formaldehyde will vary, but prolonged gas exposure is always detrimental to your health. Reduce your exposure to formaldehyde by choosing low-formaldehyde products, maintaining proper ventilation for indoor spaces, and limiting your exposure to cigarette smoke. The best preventative measure is to monitor formaldehyde levels using gas monitors programmed to read the air quality of indoor spaces.