Concurrent with our post of this Blog, we were alerted to a report released today by CNN.
March 23, 2016, 11:30 AM
(CNN) Everyone exposed to formaldehyde in some laminate flooring could experience adverse health effects, according to a revised report issued by several government agencies. The revised report, released Tuesday, also found lifetime cancer risk from the flooring to be higher than identified in the original version of the report.” and concludes with: “Advice for consumers remains unchanged from the initial report. Individuals who have this type of flooring should take steps to reduce exposure, including opening windows daily to get fresh air, using exhaust fans and reducing other sources of formaldehyde, such as tobacco smoke. Anyone with the floors who is experiencing symptoms such as eye irritation and breathing difficulty should seek medical attention. Professional air testing should be considered if symptoms are persistent.”
Formaldehyde Gas is one of those invisible volatile organic compounds (VOCS) that can contribute to poor indoor air quality in the home and workplace. Keeping your air fresh is vital to good family or employee health.
Have you ever purchased new upholstered furniture, or put in new flooring and wondered what that acrid pickle-like odor is?
Suffering from headache, dizziness, watery eyes, and respiratory difficulties, with no explanation? Poisonous traces of formaldehyde can be found everywhere and is often difficult to eliminate, depending on the source. The gases can emit from a long list of everyday items, including:
- Burning leaves and wood
- Idling cars
- Barbecue, charcoal, lighter fluid
- Homes emitting smoke from chimney
- Carbon monoxide emissions
- Vehicle interiors
- Furniture, particle board, pressed wood (ranks highest)
- Flooring, laminate flooring, carpet
- Cigarette smoke
- Plastic and paper products
- Gas stoves and heaters
- Draperies and upholstery
- Antiseptics, germicidals
- Air fresheners, candles
- Laundry and cleaning supplies
- Cosmetics, personal care and baby care products
- Fingernail polish and remover
What are Signs and Symptoms from Formaldehyde Exposure?
Along with the above named common symptoms of headache, burning eyes, etc., long-term exposure can produce damage to the lungs, and the central nervous system bringing on depression, mood changes, attention deficit, insomnia, and problems with memory, equilibrium and motor skills.
One sufferer recalled how years earlier her biology class instructor stored left-over dissected animal specimens improperly. As part of their procedure, students used formaldehyde to kill germs and as a preservative. The gases emitting from these were causing the students to suffer headaches and dizziness.
Formaldehyde poisoning has long been a problem for undertakers who use embalming fluids – leading to Lou Gehrig’s disease. For years, histologists, while sectioning tissue, and performing other routine testing, were exposed to uncontrolled levels of formaldehyde. Before these dangers were discovered, and proper ventilation and rules were imposed, many died of respiratory diseases and cancer.
Today, there is wide controversy over the use of E-Cigarettes and ‘vaping’ and the levels of toxins involved – still an uncontrolled and largely unstudied substance.
One study reports that a vaporizer lets the user adjust the voltage from 3.3V to 5.0V. The higher voltage releases more of a nicotine kick, but it also generates a higher dose of dangerous formaldehyde.
(Watch for our upcoming Blog about E-Cigarettes April 1, 2016)
How to Avoid Overexposure to Poor Indoor Air and Formaldehyde Today
As you can see, sources of this gas can be impossible to completely eliminate. It’s everywhere. You can’t change the building materials and structure of your home or workplace. For example, formaldehyde is especially present in pre-fab homes such as mobile homes and travel RVs.
But you can begin on a personal level, and take steps to control your air-quality. To start with, read the labels of personal care products and look for chemicals like Quaternium-15, and DMDM Hydantoin – these harbor formaldehyde. Don’t smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke. When buying new furniture, or remodeling, stay away from pressed wood products, and take measures to air out your home or workplace.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Environmental Health Division recommends that the best way to lower exposure to formaldehyde is to look for products that are labeled, ‘no’ or ‘low’ VOC and in compliance with ANSI.
Ventilate your home: Increase the supply of fresh air to lower the concentration of formaldehyde…through the use of fans and a ventilation system (such as a furnace air-exchanger).
Control the heat and humidity: Lower the temperature and humidity in the home through air conditioning and dehumidification.
Hire an indoor air quality (IAQ) consultant: …hiring a consultant provides you with a variety of testing methods that are not easily available to consumers. In addition, consultants can help you interpret your results.”
Replacing Formaldehyde containing materials with non-toxic green building materials is not practical for most people due to the logistics, labor, and material costs that would be involved.
The most efficient way is the use of air purifiers that can meet the standards needed to remove the fumes from formaldehyde gases, and by installing ventilation that can bring in outside air to help dilute built up gases.
Turn to the Experts
When hiring an indoor environmental expert, consider seeking out a qualified professional such as a member of IAQA (Indoor Air Quality Association, Inc.) and/or a CIEC (Council-Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant).
Carrier Air Purifier
At the writing of this Blog, the State of Minnesota holds only two CIEC consultants and one of these is Fred Ridler, owner of ABEL Heating and Cooling. To qualify for this certification, he had to undergo eight years of rigorous requirements. Fred is also a member of IAQA. (Click here to see more about the Indoor Air Quality of Your Home or Workplace)
Call us anytime if you are experiencing a heating or cooling emergency.
952-472-COOL (2665) or Contact Us.