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Does Your Home Have High Formaldehyde Levels?


EMSL Analytical provides formaldehyde and VOC testing services to ensure indoor environments are safe for building occupants.

Cinnaminson, NJ

Formaldehyde is a chemical widely used by industry to manufacture building materials and numerous household products. Its primary use is in the production of resins and as a chemical intermediate. It is also a by-product of combustion and certain other natural processes. This means it may be present in substantial concentrations both indoors and outdoors.

As far back as 1987 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) does classify formaldehyde as a human carcinogen and the California Air Resource Board (ARB) has classified formaldehyde as a Toxic Air Contaminant.

Sources of formaldehyde in the home include building materials, smoking, household products such as nail polish and permanent press fabrics, and the use of unvented, fuel-burning appliances such as gas stoves or kerosene space heaters.

As a gas, formaldehyde is colorless and pungent-smelling. High concentrations may trigger asthma attacks in some people. Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions and possibly cancer.

Fortunately there are steps people can take to reduce exposure in the home:

• Do not smoke indoors
• Limit the introduction of formaldehyde containing products and building materials.
• Use “exterior-grade” pressed wood products which are lower-emitting because they contain phenol resins, not urea resins.
• Use air conditioning and dehumidifiers to maintain moderate temperature and reduce humidity levels to minimize off-gassing.
• Increase ventilation, particularly after bringing new sources of formaldehyde into the home.

EMSL Analytical, a leading provider of indoor air quality (IAQ) and environmental testing services, has over 30 years of experience testing for indoor contaminants such as formaldehyde. “In homes, the most significant sources of formaldehyde are likely to be from pressed wood products made using adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde resins,” reported Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President, Marketing at EMSL Analytical. “Pressed wood products made for indoor use include: particleboard, hardwood plywood paneling and medium density fiberboard. Medium density fiberboard is generally recognized as being the highest formaldehyde-emitting pressed wood product. Formaldehyde is also released from some types of insulation. Air testing can determine if dangerous levels exist in a home or office.”

To learn more about formaldehyde please watch

For information about testing for formaldehyde or other IAQ testing services please visit, email or call (800) 220-3675.

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of quality environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.


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 human carcinogen

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