25 Potential Sources of Formaldehyde (HCHO) in Your Home

Indoor Air Quality Monitoring

According to US EPA, formaldehyde is a colorless gas having a pungent smell which could cause eyes to water, causes burning feeling to the throat and eyes and can cause difficulty in breathing in humans who are exposed to its higher concentrations. The concentration levels of formaldehyde in homes is recommended not to increase 0.1 ppm in older homes and 0.3 ppm for new homes that use excess amount of pressed wood products. The primary way individuals are presented to formaldehyde is by breathing in it. Individuals can likewise be presented to lower quantities by fluids intake or eating nourishments that contain formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is frequently used and help in manufacturing many types of household products by itself or in combination with other chemicals. For example, it is used to add permanent-press qualities to clothing and draperies, as a component of glues and adhesives, and as a preservative in some paints and coating products

Furthermore, Formaldehyde is used to make many household goods, from furniture to cosmetics. It is present almost in every household item, therefore some of the sources that cause the formaldehyde to stay indoors include:

  1. Furniture: the furniture at home which is especially new emits and smells formaldehyde strongly, because it is painted with the paints and varnishes that contain formaldehyde. To avoid this cause, it is recommended to used pure wood furniture with its natural color and without applying polishes and colors, these include the following sources:
    • Table, chairs
    • Doors
    • Closets

 Pressed wood products: In homes, the most significant sources of formaldehyde are pressed wood products made using adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins. Pressed wood products made for indoor use include:

    1. particleboard (used as subflooring and shelving and in cabinetry and furniture);
    2. hardwood plywood paneling (used for decorative wall covering and used in cabinets and furniture);
    3. Medium density fiberboard (used for drawer fronts, cabinets, and furniture tops).
  1. Insulating materials: Urea formaldehyde foam insulation: It is often used in existing houses by injecting the foam into areas, such as behind walls, where it was impractical to provide conventional insulation. It contains formaldehyde in high quantities.
  1. Textile products: the textile products, especially the ones with wrinkles can contain and emit the formaldehyde which can cause the indoor air quality to reduce. These products contain the following sources
    • Clothing
    • Beddings
    • Curtains
  1. Painting products: paints and painting material that we apply in our homes to color the walls and other household items contain considerable amount of formaldehyde that would cause smell for a longer period of time as well as pollute the indoor air quality with considerable amount of formaldehyde. These sources include
    • glues
    • adhesives
    • varnishes and lacquers
  1. Wallpapers: wallpapers that we stick on the walls also include the adhesive materials which sticks to the walls which have formaldehyde
  1. Cleaning products: different cleaning products are made from different chemicals and materials such as terpenes which reacts with ozone to form formaldehyde, therefore these are a big source of it which includes the followings
    • detergents
    • disinfectants
    • insecticides
  1. Carpet cleaners: Some carpet cleaning products used at homes are eco-friendly but some of the carpet cleaners that contain bleach, ammonia, glycol ethers and formaldehyde are harmful to the environment.
  1. Softeners: In fabric softeners, there are certain very unpleasant additives. Many ingredients emit formaldehyde, which has been related to cancer. Organic fabric softeners are intended to leave chemical traces in clothes and bedding.
  1. Shoe products: 4-tert-butylphenol formaldehyde resin is used as an adhesive to bond leathers for shoes production. There is several leather made products which cause the emission of formaldehyde in the environment.
  1. Cosmetics: there are hundreds and thousands of cosmetic products and manufacturers which really don’t care about the concentration of formaldehyde being used in their manufacturing products. These are dangerous in two days, firstly they have the direct contact with your skin and will destroy the skin, and secondly these products will release formaldehyde to the environment and pollute the indoor air quality.
    • Makeup
    • liquid soaps
    • shampoos
    • conditioners
  1. Nail care products: although nails are less sensitive as compared to the skin but the nail care products contain higher amounts of formaldehyde and are harsh to the remove the nail polishes, therefore these products can serious threats
    • nail varnishes/ polishes
    • nail hardeners
    • nail polish removers
  2. Hair straightening products: different hair smoothening and straightening products also contain toxic chemicals that not only will damage the hair in the form of hair loss but also emit toxic gases such as formaldehyde.
  1. Electronic equipment: Personal computers, keyboards, and monitors can cause decontaminated with gaseous formaldehyde, their chip boards may contain formaldehyde which is emitted to the environment
    • Computers
    • Monitors
    • Keyboards
    • Photocopiers
  1. Paper products: paper products can contain and retain the formaldehyde in their fibers and late they can emit at higher levels
    • Paper towels,
    • Tissues
    • Newspapers
    • Book papers
  1. Furnaces, stoves and fireplaces: all kind of furnaces and stoves produces combustion by products and always formaldehyde is present in these kind of by products and smokes.
  1. Plastic products: all the plastic products are made of different chemicals therefore these are the main source of releasing formaldehyde in the environment, these plastic products should be replaced with the glass or natural material products.
    • Plastic bottles
    • Plastic toys
    • Plastic plates
  1. Smoking products: smoking is harmful in many ways, it can cause lung problems to the smoker as well as to the person sitting beside him, the burning process and the smoke released from smoking causes a large amount of formaldehyde release in the environment.
    • Cigars
    • Cigarettes
  1. E-cigarettes: studies have presented that although e-cigarettes are used at lower and normal heat settings, but emit the gaseous formaldehyde which is present in the vapors at dangerous levels.
  1. Water heaters: in the winters water heaters are frequently used which emit formaldehyde in the process of burning, maiming the water heater at specific lower levels and careful used can prevent the release of formaldehyde at greater extent.


  1. Burning natural gas: Formaldehyde is also a byproduct of combustion. When burning natural gas, formaldehyde is produced and released into the environment.
  1. Burning fuel: Automobile exhaust is a common source of formaldehyde in our environment. Exhaust gases from our vehicles in our homes adds the formaldehyde concentrations to higher levels.
    • kerosene
    • gasoline
  1. Burning wood: as described earlier, burning produces by products and formaldehyde is the byproduct of combustion, burning the wood causes the formaldehyde release in the homes as well as by burning the wood we are destroying our natural environment in the form of deforestation.
  1. Fragrances: different kinds of fragrances, perfumes and air fresheners also contain several types of chemicals such as volatile organic compounds as well as formaldehyde which will pollute and harm the environment.
  2. Toothpastes: different kinds of toothpastes contain several types of chemicals such as fluorides as well as formaldehyde, to avoid these it is better to use a good brand or use a homemade toothpastes

Formaldehyde can be measured and caught by different kinds of air quality monitoring units, such as portable monitors that are easy to operate and instant in their operation. The use of these kinds of air quality monitors is highly recommended indoors to check and regulate the concentration of formaldehyde in the indoor environment. 

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