Formaldehyde Poisoning From Pressed Wood Products
Formaldehyde is an eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritant; it is absorbed easily into the lungs, gastrointestinal tract and skin.
Pressed wood products are exactly how they sound, grab a mountain of sawdust from any type of timber, mix in some glue, mold it to whatever specifications you require, put the whole thing under pressure until the glue is set and your pressed wood is ready to be made into a wall, a cabinet or a classy piece of furniture.
The problem with pressed wood products doesn’t come from the wood itself, but the glue that is used. In some products urea-formaldehyde is used as a resin.
The most common methods of exposure are:
- Skin contact
- Eye contact
Signs And Symptoms Of Formaldehyde Poisoning
- Sore throat
- Eye irritations
- Skin irritation
- Nose bleeds
Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer – especially nose and throat cancer. Although scientific research has not shown what level will cause cancer it is suggested that levels too low to cause symptoms may still be of concern.
Formaldehyde has no antidote, if you suspect poisoning call an ambulance or go to the emergency room. If there is eye or skin irritation, flush with water.
People Most At Risk
- The use of urea-formaldehyde pressed wood products in prefab homes and trailers is still a concern due to the generally high level of product in a small space. People exposed to these environments for prolonged periods of time may be at a higher risk of exposure.
- Laboratory technicians, mortuary technicians and some health care professionals may be exposed to higher levels of formaldehyde than the general public.
The Good News
- Pressed wood products of today are very closely regulated
- Pressed wood releases less formaldehyde as it ages so the older the product the less the risk
- Using air conditioning or dehumidifiers can help reduce the risk by maintaining a temperate environment
There are many ways to be exposed to formaldehyde:
- Breathing contaminated air
- Tobacco smoke
- Automobile emissions
- Fuel burning appliances such as wood burning stoves, gas stoves and kerosene heaters