The Hazards of Formaldehyde Fumes

Formaldehyde is a useful chemical that is used in many manufacturing processes and in day-to-day life. It also poses a danger because of its toxic and carcinogenic properties and as such should be handled in a safe manner. Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC) with a strong and distinctive odor that can be found in a clear liquid form or gas vapor. Formaldehyde has several uses: as an intermediate in the production of resins and industrial chemicals, as a disinfectant (bactericide), as a preservative or embalming agent, as a final wash in photography film, and as a component in the manufacture or treatment of many consumer products.

Because of its common use, formaldehyde pollution must be proactively guarded against. For example, it is not uncommon for formaldehyde fumes to enter ones indoor air from various materials or finishes from products treated or manufactured with formaldehyde such as manufactured woods, carpets, molded plastics, clothing, and various other building products and textiles. In buildings where vehicles park, such as fire stations and bus depots, a build up in the concentration of formaldehyde fumes can occur, which would contribute to poor air quality and potentially create a hazardous environment.

Studies have shown that exposure to formaldehyde can result in many respiratory illnesses including asthma-like symptoms (Click Here for information on Occupational Asthma). Researchers have also linked low levels of formaldehyde exposure to triggering health issues that affect ones eyes, nose, skin, and throat. The chemical has been identified by OSHA as a “cancer-causing” substance.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the current permissible exposure limit (PEL) for formaldehyde is 0.75 part of formaldehyde per million parts of air (ppm) as a time-weighted average over an 8-hour period. The short-term exposure limit (STEL) is 2 ppm for any 15-minute sampling period. Engineering controls should be taken if your action level is 0.5 ppm. To determine this you will need to conduct sampling. It is recommended to use a Certified Industrial Hygienist to conduct this testing.

Sentry Air Systems offers a wide variety of solutions for removal of formaldehyde fumes. The specialty blended activated carbon filters in our units reduce exposure to the chemical while providing clean, filtered air in the workspace. In fact, this high filtration efficiency of the specialty blend is demonstrated in the filter efficiency report on our website. The report confirms that the Sentry Air Systems units absorb the hazardous formaldehyde vapors, reduce their concentration, and recycle the air back into the room. This approach is not only cost-effective, but also “Green”: ductless systems don’t allow harmful particulate to be released into the atmosphere like it would be with a ducted system that delivers contaminated air outdoors. If you believe that you are being exposed to formaldehyde fumes or work with a process that utilizes formaldehyde, contact an industrial hygienist or seek the advice of a medical professional. For more information on our products that assist in the removal of formaldehyde fumes, please feel free to contact us directly at 1-800-799-4609, or

Or visit our Formaldehyde Fume Extraction webpage on our main website.


Information on Formaldehyde Fumes in Brazilian Keratin Treatment: