Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and is in many building materials. That includes pressed or laminate flooring, spray foam insulation, furniture and other building materials.
Exposure symptoms include upper airway irritation; dry or sore throat; nosebleeds; itching and burning sensations of the nose; nasal congestion and an accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Long term exposure can result in adverse effects on the central nervous system, headaches, depression, mood changes, insomnia, irritability, attention deficit, and impairment of dexterity, memory, and balance. Children exposed to the same levels of formaldehyde as adults may receive larger doses because of their developing bodies. Furthermore, they may have higher level exposure than adults in the same location because they are shorter and higher levels of it may be at ground level.
They place the material in a chamber where it off-gasses and they measure the levels. Air testing can be achieved by using the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Method 2016 using a sorbent tube. They connect the sorbent tube to a low flow pump adaptor for approximately 50 minutes. The sample is sent back to the laboratory in a cold pack to maintain preservation.
In addition to using approved laboratory sampling methods we offer a fast, accurate and cost effective approach to measure formaldehyde in the air using a portable, continuous measurement formaldehyde meter (FM-801). As a matter of fact, a sensor cartridge employs the chemical reaction between formaldehyde and ß-diketone on a porous glass. Therefore, they measure the yellowing that results from this reaction via photoelectric photometry with accurate readings to <20ppb HCHO, without significant cross-sensitivity from typical background compounds, making it ideal for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) applications. Tests run in as little as 30 minutes. However, some companies use lesser quality formaldehyde meters with detection levels only in parts per million (ppm). That is not sensitive enough to pick up low levels of formaldehyde that can impact your health.
Fluorescence Spectroscopy is also a very useful way to analyze off gassing. This test method has correlation with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) § 93120; European DIN Standard EN-717; ASTM methods D-5582 and E-1333. They have also compared it with DNPH testing used in NIOSH 2016 and they were in good agreement.
Conversely, a positive reading of formaldehyde in a bulk sample does not necessarily mean the air has contamination. Furthermore, off-gassing of formaldehyde may increase during warmer and more humid conditions. We recommend follow on testing and monitoring when validating an indoor environmental concern.
In fact, we recommend that everyone conduct indoor air quality testing in their home and at work to ensure a safe environment free from cancer causing chemicals like formaldehyde.