What is formaldehyde - and how are we exposed to it?
Formaldehyde is a chemical with no colour and an unpleasant smell. At room temperature, formaldehyde is a gas. It also comes in a liquid solution called formalin. Formaldehyde is widely used in various industries and as a preservative and disinfectant. Formaldehyde is also found in smoke and exhaust from sources like cigarettes, vehicles, gas or wood-burning stoves and forest fires.
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The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as a known cause of cancer.
Studies have shown that formaldehyde increases the risk of developing nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia. These studies have usually been done in workers exposed to formaldehyde. Often, people who are exposed at work have higher levels of exposure than people who may be exposed in their homes.Learn about how you can protect yourself from formaldehyde at work.
Heat and humidity tend to increase the release of formaldehyde from products into the air.