Formaldehyde Information

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Formaldehyde

Other Names

Methanal, Formalin

Chemical Formula

CH2O

CAS Number

50-00-0

Industry Uses

Laboratory Preservative; Textile Manufacturing; Synthesis of plastics and fertilizers

Health Risks

Irritation of eyes, skin, and mucous membranes; Headaches and dizziness

Vapor Pressure

> 1 atm

Water Solubility

Miscible

Flammability

Flammable

Odor

Pungent, sharp, choking

Formaldehyde MSDS

What is Formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a highly-reactive, colorless, poisonous gas created by the oxidation of methanol. It is the simplest of aldehydes, and is a precursor to many other compounds. It is used as an antiseptic, disinfectant, fixative, and preservative, most often in laboratory settings. Formaldehyde is commonly distributed as a 37% solution in water, while formalin is a 10% solution of formaldehyde in water. Formaldehyde can be found in the environment in smoke from fires, automobile exhaust, and cigarette smoke. Formaldehyde is flammable and corrosive.

Formaldehyde Exposure and Health Risks

Formaldehyde is harmful if swallowed, inhaled, or contacted directly. It can cause irritation to skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Coughing and wheezing are common symptoms as well as headaches and dizziness. Formaldehyde exposure can be lethal at high enough concentrations, but more importantly at long term exposure. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and can cause menstrual and sterility disorders in women. Direct contact with the eyes can cause damage ranging from mild discomfort and burning to complete loss of vision. If formaldehyde catches fire, the vapors are irritating, corrosive, and likely toxic.

Regulations

The table below summarizes the most-recent exposure limits.

Limit/Level

Type

Organization

0.9 ppm

AEGL-1 (8 hrs)

EPA

14 ppm

AEGL-2 (8 hrs)

EPA

100 ppm

AEGL-3 (10 min)

EPA

35 ppm

AEGL-3 (8 hrs)

EPA

0.1

C (15 min)

NIOSH

0.016 ppm

TWA (8 hrs)

NIOSH

2 ppm

Short Term

OSHA

0.75 ppm

TWA

OSHA

Sources: NIOSH, OSHA, EPA

Measuring Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde concentration can be measured in the air or in water (dissolved) in units of parts per million (ppm). We carry portable, fixed, and dissolved formaldehyde monitors and kits, and all of our formaldehyde products can be viewed HERE.

Contact us for help choosing the right monitor for your application