Mold Testing & Inspection in Houston, TX

Formaldehyde in Your Home

Formaldehyde exposure in homes can come from several items in typical home.

These items may be as follows:

  • Glues and Adhesives
  • Preservatives in paints and coating products
  • Cleaners
  • Pressed wood products such as flooring, particle board products, shelves, cabinets, furniture, paneling, and  drawers
  • Carpeting products
  • Permanent press products
  • Poorly vented fuel burning appliances (gas stoves - kerosene space heaters)
  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Electrical issues with appliances can cause formaldehyde exposures and
  •  Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI)

Formaldehyde is typically off-gassed in many of these products.  They off gas higher amounts of formaldehyde when new and decrease as they get older.  Typically an older home will have less formaldehyde off-gassing than a newer home.  Increased temperature and relative humidity levels can increase off-gassing of formaldehyde just as decreasing temperature and relative humidity can lower the off gassing of formaldehyde levels.  Controlling temperature and relative humidity will lower the off gassing of formaldehyde. 

Another way to control formaldehyde off gassing is when you are purchasing any new products.  Ask about formaldehyde within the product.  Is the product manufactured with lower emitting formaldehyde products?   This is one way you can control formaldehyde within the home by purchasing lower formaldehyde emitting products. 

In the 1970's Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation was installed in walls and attics areas in several homes for insulation purposes.  These homes typically had higher levels of formaldehyde off-gassing.  Several of these homes were then remediated to remove this material.   

Health effects vary per the individual.  Some of these effects can be as follows:

  • Watery eyes
  • Burning sensation of the nose and throat
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing - respiratory distress
  • Wheezing
  • Allergic reactions
  • Coughing
  • Skin rashes
  • Sensitivity to formaldehyde can occur after initial exposure, (meaning that the second time, and third time, etc., you are exposed to formaldehyde, you may be more sensitive to it) and
  • The US National Cancer Institute and International Agency for Research on Cancer indicates that Formaldehyde causes nasopharyngeal cancer.

Formaldehyde s colorless and has a pungent odor.  Several standards exist for formaldehyde in occupational settings but no agreed standard for residential settings.  Some of these standards are as follows:

  • OSHA's Permissible 8 hour Time Weighted Average is 750 parts per billion (ppb)
  • OSHA's Short Term Exposure Limit (15 minutes) is 2000 ppb
  • National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) is 16 ppb
  • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value is 300 ppb
  • US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) indicates the maximum concentration from wood products to be 300 ppb
  • World Health Organization (WHO) is 100 ppb for 30 minutes
  • The State of California Office of Health Hazard Assessment has an office concentration of 23 ppb, and
  • FEMA requires manufactures of new trailers to have formaldehyde limits/exposures to 16 ppb and below.

By becoming an informed homeowner, you can reduce your levels of formaldehyde within your residence.

If you have further questions or would like to set up an inspection or testing, please contact Robert J Reda & Associates LLC. 

Robert J Reda CIH, CSP, MAC
Robert J Reda & Associates LLC
Providing professional consulting services in Safety, Industrial Hygiene, and Environmental

Texas Department of Health Services Licensed Mold Assessment Consultant