What Is Formaldehyde And Its Effects On Human Health?

Various toxic gases and chemicals are used in industrial activities and other household productions. Exposure to these gases can cause serious health damages and can become severe if not treated on time. Industrial workers are more prone to these health hazards since they play with these gases all day long. Without taking preventive measures, it would be too heavy a risk working in such environments. One such toxic gas is formaldehyde which has various health effects. In this article, we will discuss this gas, followed by its effects and preventive measures. Keep reading to know more!

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a colorless and strong-smelling gas used in various production industries. The gas easily breaks down in the air and dissolves easily in water. However, the gas changes its shape after it is dissolved in water, resulting in formalin. The most common reasons for formaldehyde production are cooking and smoking. It is why this gas is generally found at homes, apart from industrial workspaces.

Formaldehyde gas is generally produced in the environment. It is produced as part of metabolic processes in humans and other living organisms. Following are some of the main activities where this gas is used.

  • Pressed wood products
  • Plywood
  • Fiberboard
  • Particleboard
  • Glues and adhesives
  • Permanent press fabrics
  • Paper product coatings
  • Insulation materials

Other substances that release from formaldehyde are also used in various industries. Soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, and sunscreens are common products where these released formaldehyde substances are used.

How are people exposed to it?

Formaldehyde is typically made in the body. Proteins in the body separate formaldehyde into formate (formic acid), which can be additionally separated into carbon dioxide. Most breathed in formaldehyde is separated by the cells coating the mouth, nose, throat, and breathing ways. These organs absorb the gas to prevent its further absorption into the blood.

i) In houses:

The primary way individuals are exposed to formaldehyde is by breathing in it. The fluid-structure can be consumed through the skin. Individuals can likewise be exposed to limited quantities by eating food sources or drinking fluids containing formaldehyde. Pressed-wood products in homes are often the cause of this gas in houses.

ii) In industries:

Although the gas is released in lower quantities in industries, continuous exposure causes health hazards. It is best practice to contact gas detector suppliers in UAE and install efficient detectors to protect from it. Industrial workers that make formaldehyde-containing products are exposed to this gas.

iii) Other professions:

Apart from houses and industries, workers in other fields are not free of this risk. Lab workers and health professionals may be exposed to higher levels of this gas than the general public. A study has reported that less than 3% of workers experience more than two ppm on average.

Health hazards caused by formaldehyde:

Following are the most common health hazards of this gas found in industrial workers.

i) Nasopharynx cancer:

Long-term exposure to formaldehyde gas has been known to cause various health hazards in workers. The most exposed individuals are industrial workers, health care professionals, and lab technicians. Medical and occupational settings are known to have severe effects on formaldehyde. The most shocking hazard of this gas is the cancer of the nasopharynx.

ii) Nasal sinuses cancer:

It is believed that individuals with constant exposure to this gas are susceptible to countless health hazards. The most common of these hazards is the caner which has been studied in various labs. Industrial workers with regular exposure to this gas are known to have cancer of the nasal sinuses.

iii) Leukemia:

Embalmers and medical professionals who frequently use formaldehyde are found to have a link with leukemia. The increased risk of this cancer, particularly myeloid leukemia, is closely associated with exposure to formaldehyde.

Some other common diseases that are caused by this toxic gas are enlisted below.

  • Skin irritation
  • Watery eyes
  • Burning sensation of eyes
  • Nose irritation
  • Throat irritation
  • Nausea
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing

How to prevent it?

Formaldehyde is a toxic gas with countless health hazards, some of them being very serious. It is best practice to prevent it, no matter in houses or industries. The best way to detect its presence is to install gas sensors across the entire floor or plant. Connect with gas detector suppliers in UAE today and place your order.

Formaldehyde can be listed on a label with other names which you must know. These are:

  • Formalin
  • Formic aldehyde
  • Methanal
  • Methylene oxide
  • Methyl aldehyde
  • Methanediol
  • Methylene glycol

Industries should keep the exposure limit as low as possible. The current level is 0.75 ppm on average over an 8-hour workday, according to OSHA.

Make your workspace safe with gas detectors!

Toxic gases like carbon monoxide can cause severe damages to human health and the workspace. It would be best to protect from these hazards in advance. Install efficient gas detectors across the entire plant to ensure safety!

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