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What is formaldehyde?

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a colorless chemical with a strong pickle-like odor that is commonly used in many manufacturing processes. It easily becomes a gas at room temperature, which makes it part of a larger group of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When an item gives off formaldehyde, it is released into the air through a process called off-gassing.  

Is the use of formaldehyde banned?

No. Formaldehyde is still used in many consumer products. Minnesota Statute 325F.181 requires that all plywood and particle board used as building materials comply with federal standards that limit the amount of formaldehyde that can be released. Minnesota law also requires that there is a written warning attached to certain building materials made with urea formaldehyde. These requirements have been in effect since 1985.
While not directly related to air concentrations of formaldehyde, Minnesota Statute 325F.176-178 bans the use of formaldehyde in products intended for children. As of August 1, 2015, manufacturers and retailers cannot sell children’s products that intentionally contain formaldehyde.

Where is formaldehyde found?

Formaldehyde is a chemical used in the production of adhesives, bonding agents and solvents. For this reason, it is commonly found in a variety of consumer products including:

  • Pressed-wood products (plywood, particle board, paneling)
  • Foam insulation
  • Wallpaper and paints
  • Some synthetic fabrics (example: permanent press)
  • Some cosmetics and personal products

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