Formaldehyde is frequently mentioned on product packaging, in the media or in supplier catalogues. "Product without formaldehyde" is now a common label meant to reassure us but also to scare us of product that do contain it.
Formaldehyde can be found in the air of our homes and our offices, and it seems to be rather harmful, but what is it exactly?
What is formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOCs) widely present in our modern environment and can be found in synthetic fabrics. It is used to give textiles strength, crease-resistance and water repellent properties. It is sadly one of the most common pollutants found in our homes, and also one of the most harmful ones.
In its most common form, formaldehyde is a colourless chemical with an unpleasant odour. It is a gas that is very suffocating and flammable at room temperature. It also exists in liquid form, then known as "formalin", and was widely used in medical applications and in scientific laboratories. Formaldehyde is also known as methanal and its chemical formula is CH2O.
Despite its many contraindications and harmful effects, formaldehyde is still widely used by industrials, mainly as a preservative and disinfectant.
The exhaust fumes of our cars and our heating systems also produce formaldehyde. But it does not stop there: it can be found in cigarette smoke, gas and wood stoves, but also more simply in bush fires. The omnipresence of formaldehyde means that it is now found everywhere, in the indoor air of our homes and offices as well as in the outdoor air of our cities and public places.
The dangers associated with formaldehyde
Formaldehyde poses a major threat to our health. In small doses or when directly in contact, it can cause inflammation of the eyes, mucous membranes and respiratory tract, as well as painful headaches. It has been shown that 98% of the inhaled gas is retained in the nasal mucosa.
And yet formaldehyde continues to be used and overused, resulting in its common presence in our indoor air, on the textiles we wear and in the places with.
Since it often comes in a gaseous form, formaldehyde can easily come in contact with our eyes or nose and cause repeated irritations.
In addition, formaldehyde is also considered a carcinogenic substance that directly causes nasopharyngeal cancer, which has been recognized as an occupational disease in certain countries.
An air purifier such as AIRVIA Medical cleans your indoor air of all its harmful particles, including formaldehyde.