Most Mesquite residents assume formaldehyde is only used to preserve animals for dissection in high school biology classes, but it is actually a commonly used chemical in the manufacturing and development of building materials and it can be produced as a byproduct of combustion in your furnace or other gas powered appliances.
So, whether you realize it or not, you could be breathing a whole lot of this potentially toxic chemical and the health effects are generally bad. To determine your risk factors for high levels of formaldehyde, here is a list of the most common sources of the chemical:
- Unvented Appliances (gas stoves, space heaters)
- Building Materials (pressed wood and glue)
- Household Cleaners and Products
- Glues and Adhesives
Of these, the most likely source of the chemical is the pressed wood floorboards and particle boards used in many modern homes. Older homes, built before the 1970s likely won’t have as many chemicals in the building materials as most of them consist of solid wood instead of composites and pressed woods. However, newer homes are filled with chemically laden building materials.
What Does Formaldehyde Do?
According to the EPA website, formaldehyde at levels above 0.1 parts per million are considered elevated and can lead to difficulty breathing, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, watery eyes, and nausea. It is colorless, but you can smell it in high concentrations and if the levels get too high, it can trigger asthma attacks or result in wheezing and coughing, rashes, fatigue or allergic reactions. In short, formaldehyde is not something you want to breathe on a regular basis.
Reducing Formaldehyde Levels
The easiest way to avoid formaldehyde problems and improve indoor air quality is to ensure your home is built or remodeled with quality wood that isn’t pressed with resins containing formaldehyde. If you live in a home built with these materials, use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels low – high humidity results in excess off gassing of the chemical.
And, as with any indoor air pollutants, make sure you have a good ventilation system in place to remove gases from your home. If you suspect high levels of formaldehyde or simply want to be sure, get your house checked today – the solutions are relatively simple and it’s good to have that peace of mind. For more solutions please call the indoor air quality pros at A #1 Air.