How long formaldehyde can evaporate is not very easy. Usually several factors play a role. In addition to the age of the object or building material, the room climate, air circulation and the condition of the material also play a role. Even used furniture can give off formaldehyde even after 30 years.
The extent to which your furniture and home textiles release formaldehyde into the room air depends on various factors. Older furniture that was produced under significantly less strict limit values can still emit formaldehyde even after years or decades . The frequent assumption that older furniture is already „outgassed“, is often a fallacy. High formaldehyde values are often also measured in older glued or pressed furniture.
But even new furniture can emit formaldehyde for a long time. How long formaldehyde can evaporate also depends on the condition. Damage to sealing paintwork and surfaces can be another reason for the increased release of gas into the environment. A high room temperature and rare or inefficient ventilation also contribute to the fact that formaldehyde can accumulate in the room air.
How long formaldehyde can evaporate is therefore not very easy. The culprit is often not the furniture itself, but the freshly installed drywall made of MDF or chipboard. Various sealing varnishes on the newly laid wooden floor can also have a long-term effect on the air in the room.
As you can see, you can quickly bring a strong outgassing formaldehyde source into your own four walls, especially if you are refurbishing and renovating on a large scale. It is then important that you identify the relevant sources with certainty in order to be able to act accordingly in the interests of your health.
Formaldehyde is in more products than you think and surrounds us in everyday life. It is used in the production of chipboard, furniture and adhesives, but it is also used in the food industry and can be produced during cooking . When dissolved in water, it is called formalin and is a component of many disinfectants – anyone who likes to watch detective stories will probably be familiar with this term.
You might think that it can't be so harmful to health if it's used on a daily basis to that extent. However, this is a misconception, because even a short-term exposure to formaldehyde can trigger a whole range of symptoms and damage to health, such as,
– eye, nose, throat and skin irritation,
– coughing and wheezing as well
– allergic reaction.
If the source of the formaldehyde vapor is not remedied promptly and you are exposed to the invisible gas for a long time or to particularly high concentrations, this increases your risk of developing a cancer such as leukemia .
It all sounds very serious and maybe even frightening at first, but you don't have to banish your entire facility, nor do without new furniture entirely, or just grill in the garden out of concern about formaldehyde developing when cooking. Thanks to the carefully set legal limit values, modern furniture is far less stressed than it used to be. Also purposeful test kits help to quickly test objects or their apartment themselves.
Before you go shopping, find out whether your building materials, furniture and cupboards contain formaldehyde.
You should test your own furniture for formaldehyde at the latest when you notice symptoms in yourself or other household members that could indicate an excessive formaldehyde concentration.
Ensure adequate ventilation, do not smoke in your living space and reduce the room temperature and humidity. For very sensitive people, it may also be advisable to take a close look at the ingredients when buying your personal care products and cosmetics (other designations on care products that indicate formaldehyde include formalin, formic acid aldehyde, methanediol, methanal, methylaldehyde).
However, less sensitive people do not have to worry as much about the formaldehyde concentration in their shower gel, as the effect of not using this source is considered to be rather small.
There are several methods to ensure whether and how much formaldehyde evaporates from an object.
1. Check if you can smell the characteristic, mostly pungent smell.
2. Notice in yourself or in those around you symptoms, like headaches, allergies or watery eyes?
3. Test your indoor air with conventional tests or hire an expert to examine your indoor air.
In general, it is important to take quick action to free yourself from stress and uncertainty.