There are many different types of materials that are commonly found in residential and commercial properties that contain formaldehyde. At room temperature, formaldehyde is a gas that has a distinctive strong odor and is reactive. It belongs to the group of chemicals known as VOCs or volatile organic compounds.
Many products such as paints, glues, personal care products, medicinal compounds, detergents, pesticides, cleaners and even textiles have formaldehyde used in their production or processing. Almost all resin products, including the polyoxymethylene plastics and all industrial lubricants also include this compound. Using a formaldehyde testing kit is an essential test to ensure the levels in any given environment are at or below standards.
When in a liquid or a solid form the formaldehyde, at room temperature or above, becomes volatile. This means it becomes a gas and is released into the surrounding air. While it is a strong smelling gas, in small quantities the smell is virtually undetectable, but that doesn’t mean the chemical is not present in potentially dangerous amounts.
There is also a risk that formaldehyde is present in medical equipment, particularly in dialysis equipment. Testing the lines after cleaning and rinsing and before use will ensure all required standards are maintained.
As with many of the pollutants that impact air quality, there are several symptoms that may indicate the presence of the chemical. They include:
- Allergic reactions and increased breathing issues for those with asthma
- Chronic coughing and wheezing
- Nose, throat and skin irritations
In laboratory testing, long-term exposure to formaldehyde is associated with specific types of cancers in rats. Studies with people also show a higher rate of specific types of cancers when people work in industries where formaldehyde is present.
It is important to remember that people have different levels of sensitivity to the presence of formaldehyde. Small amounts may bother some people while others can tolerate higher concentrations without any noticeable symptoms.
In specific environments, or if there are symptoms of formaldehyde sensitivity noted in patients using the medical equipment, using a formaldehyde testing kit to measure the levels of this compound in the area will be important.
When using these kits, including kits to test for the chemical in medical equipment, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use and complete all steps in the instruction according to the directions. Incorrectly using the test or mishandling the sample or the test components will result in an inaccurate reading.