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Formaldehyde is a pungent-smelling, flammable, colorless chemical that is produced industrially by the catalytic oxidation of methanol.

Some facts about Formaldehyde:


  • Hard thermoset phenol formaldehyde resin, urea formaldehyde resin, and melamine resin can be produced by treating formaldehyde with phenol, urea, or melamine respectively, which are permanent adhesives used in plywood and carpeting. These polymer can be foamed to make insulation, or cast into moulded products.
  • Polyfunctional alcohols which is used to make paints and explosives are made from formaldehyde.
  • Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate is a derivative of formaldehyde which is an important component in polyurethane paints and foams. Hexamine is another derivative of formaldehyde that is used in phenol-formaldehyde resins as well as the explosive RDX.
  • A solution of formaldehyde with water can be used as a disinfectant as it has the ability to kills most bacteria and fungi including their spores.
  • It is used as an additive in the manufacturing of vaccine to inactivate toxins and pathogens.
  • Formaldehyde releasers are used in personal care products such as cosmetics as biocides.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis can be a cause of using certain products containing formaldehyde in certain sensitized individuals.
  • The parasites Ichthyophthirius multifiliis and Cryptocaryon irritans can be treated by using formaldehyde.
  • Formaldehyde can be used to maintain animal feeds or feed ingredients for up to 21 days as it is an antimicrobial agent.
  • It can preserves or fixes tissue or cells by cross-linking of primary amino groups.
  • The use of formaldehyde as a biocide including embalming is banned by the European Union under the Biocidal Products Directive (98/8/EC) due to its carcinogenic properties.
  • Formaldehyde is used in low concentrations in photography for process C-41 stabilizer in the final step of washing. It is also used in the process E-6 pre-bleach step, to make it unnecessary in the final wash.
  • It is an essential intermediate in cellular metabolism in mammals and humans which occurs naturally.
  • It can be used in manufacturing of materials such as particleboard, plywood, and other pressed wood products.
  • It is commonly used as a disinfectant, fungicide and germicide. It is also used as a preservative in medical laboratories as well as mortuaries.
  • Formaldehyde is produced naturally during the decay of plant material in the soil as well as during normal chemical processes in most of the living organisms.
  • Primarily, people can be exposed to formaldehyde by inhaling formaldehyde gas or vapor from the air or by absorbing liquids containing formaldehyde through the skin.
  • Exposure to formaldehyde can happen by breathing contaminated air from pressed-wood products, tobacco smoke, and emissions from automobile tailpipe.
  • The use of fuel-burning appliances without a vent or outlet, such as gas stoves, wood-burning stoves, and kerosene heaters are another potential source of exposure to formaldehyde.
  • Myeloid leukemia and rare cancers, including cancers of the paranasal sinuses, nasal cavity, and nasopharynx can be a cause of exposure to high levels of formaldehyde.
  • Adequate ventilation, moderate temperatures, and reduced humidity levels can be ensured through the use of air conditioners and dehumidifiers to limit formaldehyde exposure in the home.
  • The ingestion of formaldehyde in human through food can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and in extreme cases can cause death.
  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, infrared detection, gas detector tubes and liquid chromatography are some of the process used to detect the presence of formaldehyde in blood and urine.
  • Stores and supermarkets selling fruits, fishes, and vegetables uses formalin to keep them fresh.

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