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EC number: 200-001-8
CAS number: 50-00-0
Sources and soncentrations
- The main source of FA is emission from
building and furnishing materials, notably wood and wood-based products.
Other products that release FA include those with fungicides, paints,
consumer products, cosmetics, electrical equipment, and tobacco.
Reported mean indoor concentrations of FA generally lie in the range of
0.005 to 0.1 mg/m3 with some higher concentrations in new or renovated
housing, e.g. A number of European projects reported mean exposure
concentrations in homes (sampling time: 1–7 days), generally as less
than 0.05 mg/m3. Concentrations of FA measured in public buildings in
Europe generally lie below those measured in homes (0.025 mg/m3).
Outdoor concentrations fall below 0.01 mg/m3 in European cities.
Metabolism, distribution in the body, and
retention in the nasal cavity
- The metabolism of FA is so fast that 0.5
mg/m3 exposure does not increase urinary formate excretion; further, FA
does not accumulate in the blood after intravenous administration to
animals (cats, dogs, and monkeys). It appears unlikely that inhaled FA
reaches internal organs after portal of entry. Retention of FA in the
moist layers covering the nasal mucosa, i.e. regions of the upper
respiratory tract, exceeds 90–95% in rodents and primates owing to its
high solubility in water and reactivity.
Chemosensory perception/sensory irritation
- A large variety of odour thresholds has
been reported for FA from 0.05 to 0.5 mg/m3. It is considered, that a
significant fraction of the population perceives FA at or below 0.1
mg/m3 without interfering background. Formaldehyde stimulates not only
to the sense of smell, but also the chemesthetic sense, i.e., the
capacity to feel chemicals. Humans exposed to the vapour have long noted
eye and nasal irritation. Such responses occur principally via
stimulation of the trigeminal nerve. Formaldehyde has a detectable odour
at all the concentrations of interest for chemesthesis. Thus, the odour
interferes with judgment of those concentrations, i.e. difficulty of
separating the integrated input of the odour and sensory irritation.
Threshold for sensory irritation:
- In general, the eyes are considered to be
more sensitive to chemesthesis than the upper airways. Threshold values
for sensory irritation have been suggested from 0.25– 0.35 mg/m3 to 1.2
Human exposure studies:
- The exposure of asthmatics to FA and grass
pollen or dust mites at indoor air concentrations does not indicate
exacerbation of the lung function.
Epidemiological studies in children and
- After a detailed analysis of the
conflicting results reported by Ezratty et al 2007 and Casset et al 2006
the authors concluded
that exposure of asthmatics to formaldehyde would not lead to an
exacerbation of the lung function. They also reviewed case control and
cross sectional studies that had suggested a possible association of low
formaldehyde concentrations and asthma. By taking into consideration the
complex exposure situations and potential confounding factors, they
concluded that at exposures <100 ppb such associations between children
and adults in homes and schools have generally not been convincing
mainly due confounding factors and susceptibility of the findings to
chance effects. Furthermore, they did not identify major differences
between children, adults, and asthmatic.
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