We are in the process of building a house right now and while we are trying to use the best materials possible, it is common knowledge that many building materials contain high amounts of formaldehyde.
Doctors even have a name for exposure – Sick Building Syndrome. Typically buildings that have a lot of chemicals oozing out of the materials into the air are called Sick Buildings because they can create health issues for their inhabitants. Formaldehyde is just one of many chemicals, but because of the widespread use of it – it is in just about everything.
Basically from the research I have done, avoiding formaldehyde exposure is just about impossible as it is used in…
“Wood products with particle board/fiberboard and plywood , sheet vinyl flooring, fiberglass insulation, latex paint, glues, carpet pads/backings, draperies, upholstery, wallpaper, formica counter tops, furniture, and automobile interiors. Household antiseptics, germicides, and fungicides, coated paper products, grocery bags, paper plates, paper towels, air fresheners, rug and upholstery cleaners, scatter rugs and bath mats, resin-coated rugs, toilet bowl cleaners, water softening chemicals, felt tip markers, dish-washing liquids, fabric softeners, carpet cleaners many soft plastics, cosmetics, shampoos, hair conditioners, fingernail polish remover, permanent press fabrics, and tanned leather goods. Many vaccinations, wart remedies, cough drops, mouthwashes, etc.” (Source: Formaldehyde exposure in the home)
Preventing formaldehyde exposure
But just because it is such a widely used toxic product doesn’t mean that we should just give up. There are tips that we can take to minimize our exposure to it…
1. Start in the bedroom, since you spend so much of your time there. Look for furniture made from pressed wood and particleboard and move them to another part of your house. Since particleboard is one of the worst offenders, you shouldn’t have any exposed particleboard anywhere.
2. Begin to collect houseplants. Many houseplants are very helpful in absorbing formaldehyde.
3. Seal the surfaces and edges of cabinets with a non-toxic vapor barrier.
4. While they can be very expensive, installing a formaldehyde-capable air filter is a great idea as well.