Symptoms of high levels of formaldehyde in the air

Symptoms of high formaldehyde exposure can vary widely, ranging from headaches and fatigue to breathing difficulties, eye irritation and skin rashes. High formaldehyde exposure can also weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infections.


Formaldehyde symptoms : how does the chemical affect our health?

Formaldehyde is a gaseous substance and a chemical compound that has been used in many ways and is still used – eg in furniture or chipboard. If you frequently suffer from burning eyes, irritation of the mucous membranes or other health problems in a certain room, these can be symptoms of formaldehyde exposure. 

Why should formaldehyde be measured?

Formaldehyde is a toxic substance that can be found in indoor air and can irritate the mucous membranes of the eyes and respiratory tract. The effects of this irritation are usually temporary and include symptoms such as

  • burning eyes,
  • stuffy nose
  • malaise

If the formaldehyde concentration is high enough, however, damage to the mucous membrane can also occur and increase the risk of chronic respiratory diseases. Long-term exposure to formaldehyde can also impair lung function and increase the risk of nasopharyngeal tumors. It is important to minimize contact with formaldehyde to avoid potential health effects.

From which concentrations do formaldehyde symptoms appear?

Formaldehyde is a gaseous substance that has a pungent odor in high concentrations and is irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. Since formaldehyde can trigger allergies and has been suspected of causing cancer in humans for some time, the legislature has even introduced a maximum concentration in the workplace. The guide value for indoor use is even lower, as long-term exposure is to be assumed, which should also take into account the greater sensitivity of older people, the sick and children.

When do the first complaints appear?

What limits does the legislature regulate?

In Germany there are guideline values for formaldehyde indoors, which can be found in the Technical guide to keeping the air clean (TA Luft) are specified. According to this guide, the indoor concentration of formaldehyde must not exceed 0.1 ppm (parts per million). This guideline applies to the 8-hour workplace and is intended to ensure that the population is protected from the health effects of formaldehyde indoors. It is important to note that this guideline does not apply to all individuals equally and that sensitive individuals such as children or the elderly may also experience health effects at lower levels of formaldehyde.

What to do if you suspect an increased formaldehyde concentration in the room?

Possible sources of formaldehyde can be furniture, wall coverings, panelling, chipboard, plywood, disinfectants, cleaning products, cosmetics or tobacco smoke. Make sure you know where the problem is coming from so you don't have to fish in the dark unnecessarily. If you already have symptoms that sound like formaldehyde, you have the option of approaching formaldehyde yourself testing or get an expert for a detailed indoor air analysis.


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