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Risks and Benefits of Formaldehyde
Transcript of Risks and Benefits of Formaldehyde
WHAT IS FORMALDEHYDE?
Formaldehyde is a naturally occuring compound in the form of a pungent, colourless gas. It has the chemical formula "CH2O", and it forms other types of formaldehyde when it condenses. The IUPAC name of this compound is "methanal".
- formaldehye destroys bacteria, fungi, molds, yeasts. and other types of germs, so it can be used as a sterilant/disinfectant
- industrial adhesives use formaldehyde as a bonding agent, such as in pressed wood, plywood, fiberboards, etc
- formalin (mixture of water and formaldehyde) is used as a preservative in food, antiseptics, medical labs, funeral homes, and cosmetics (shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, lipstick, soaps, lotions, etc)
- can also help stabilize fabrics, reducing wrinkles and shrinkage
- is also found in cigaratte smoke, kerosene space heaters, and fuel burning appliances
Effects on Human Health and the Environment
- new houses have been reported to contain high levels of formaldehyde because of newly manufactured materials
- it is easier to buildup indoors than outdoors, and is hard to avoid is it is present in many commercial products and naturally occurs
- cigarette smoke, power plants, manufacturing facilities, and automobile emissions are major sources of formaldehyde
- formaldehyde is a probable human carcinogen (cancer causing substance)
- Health Canada guideline for short term exposure to prevent eye iritation (123)
highest indoor levels - recorded by Health Canada in studies of Canadian homes (95)
- Health Canada Guideline for long-term exposure below which no health effects should be observed (50)
average level in Canadian - homes (20-40)
Formaldehyde is an "irritant". Acute exposure to the compound can cause sore throats, coughing, itchy eyes, heart palpitations, nosebleeds, nausea, asthma attacks and even death. Chronic exposure can cause irritated skin, eyes, nose, and throat. In addition, studies have associated formaldehyde exposure with nasopharyngeal cancer, lung cancer, and higher leukemia mortality.
As for the environment, formaldehyde has the same effects on humans as it does for many animals, including low fertility. In aquatic environments, it is toxic and persistent. Effects on plants are, as of now, unknown. (Does not have much effect on environtment as it is naturally occuring).
Regulations in Canada
- the WHMIS classifications of formaldehyde are class B (combustible), D1 (toxic, immediate), D2 (toxic, other effects), and E (corrosive)
- formaldehyde is part of the "List of Toxic Substances", which was formed because of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- in workplaces throughout Canada, the occupational exposure limit (OEL) is set between 0.3 to 1.5 ppm
Dealing With Formaldehyde
(Based on an MSDS)
Ingestion/Inhalation - Have victim rinse mouth with water, then stay put. Bust out emergency oxygen if needed Transport to hospital immediately, and call poison center or doctor.
Skin/Eye - Call poison control/doctor immediately and flush with lukewarm water CONTINUOUSLY until tranferred to hospital. If contact lenses are present, do not try to remove. Label contaminated clothing for proper disposal
Eye - Safety goggles, face shield
Skin - Apron, rubber boots and gloves
Respiratory - breathing apparatus, air respirator, gas mask
Store in dry, well-ventilated and temperature controlle area away from sunlight, heat, ignition sources, or combustible substances. Keep at mininum. in a labelled container.
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