The best way to test for formaldehyde is to contract with a reputable laboratory for an air quality test. At-home testing kits are not recommended by public health authorities such as the Vermont Department of Health. These tests are less accurate than laboratory tests, and the results are difficult for non-professionals to interpret correctly.
Formaldehyde exposure can cause dizziness, headaches, fatigue and respiratory irritation. There are no medical tests to reliably determine whether a person has been exposed to formaldehyde; when formaldehyde exposure is suspected by a doctor, an air quality test should be conducted in the home.
Common environmental sources of formaldehyde include automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke and building materials. Certain plastics, insulation, glue and cleaning products are some of the building materials and household chemicals that may contain formaldehyde. Porous material such as sheetrock, fabric and carpet may absorb formaldehyde from these sources and release it even after the original source is removed.
New homes, mobile homes and older vehicles without catalytic converters raise the likelihood of formaldehyde exposure. Increasing ventilation and removing formaldehyde-containing products are the best ways to reduce exposure. Moderating indoor temperature and humidity reduces the amount of formaldehyde released from materials such as adhesive and plastic.