What Effects Does Formaldehyde Have on Human Health?


Quick Answer

Studies have indicated that formaldehyde may be a carcinogen in humans, according to the American Cancer Society. There is some evidence that exposure to formaldehyde is linked to cancer of the upper part of the throat and the nasal sinuses.

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There may also be a link between formaldehyde and leukemia and the abnormal changes in the chromosomes of young white blood cells of people who are exposed to the gas, says the American Cancer Society.

If more than 0.1 parts per million of formaldehyde are present in the air, some people also experience burning sensations in their nose, throat and eyes, states the American Cancer Society. They also experience nausea, coughing and wheezing. Contact with the skin can lead to contact dermatitis, hives and edema, says the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Some people experience skin irritation when there's a concentration of formaldehyde in the air.

Ingestion of even a diluted amount of formaldehyde can be fatal, says OSHA. It can damage the stomach, liver, kidneys, pancreas, spleen and central nervous system.

In concentrations of 100 parts per million or more, formaldehyde is dangerous to breathe in, according to the OSHA. It affects the respiratory system to the point where pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma and pulmonary edema can develop. Formaldehyde that comes in contact with the eyes can lead to injury to the cornea and blindness.

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