Formaldehyde is a colourless chemical gas with a pungent odour at high concentration. It is high irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. Exposure over prolonged periods may lead to hypersensitivity, whereby people may suffer severe deleterious reaction upon subsequent exposure at very low levels. The International Agency for Research of Cancer classifies is as a human cancer causing substance. (Sources from: IAQ Centre, EPD, HKSAR)
Formaldehyde is a common indoor air pollutant. Levels of formaldehyde are usually higher indoors than outdoors because there are many indoor sources of formaldehyde, and the levels become concentrated with poor ventilation. The predominant emission source of formaldehyde is pressed-wood products made with urea-formaldehyde resins. These resins are used as adhesives in materials such as particle board, medium-density fibreboard, plywood and other pressed-wood products. Emission of formaldehyde is released more slowly, but the release continues for a long period of time, often over a number of years. Formaldehyde is also emitted from cigarette smoking and combustion sources such as gas appliances, and kerosene heaters. Formaldehyde may also be found in other interior decorative items such as foam insulation, adhesives, fabrics, carpets and floor coverings, and in paper products and cosmetics.
Before deciding if you need any measurement, you should explore the abatement measures mentioned above to reduce the exposure. If you really want to make measurements to determine the level of formaldehyde in your premises, you should seek help from environmental professionals to carry out the sampling, analysis, and interpretation of results.(Please contact us at 6488 9818, we can make measurements to determine the level of formaldehyde and give suggestions.)
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a diverse group of organic compounds that evaporate at room temperature. In a typical indoor environment, there are more than 100 compounds, including formaldehyde, benzene and toluene, that can be classified as VOCs emitting from many sources such as construction materials, furnishings, cosmetics cleaning agents, pesticides, and tobacco smoke. Clothes which have been dry-cleaned may contain residual solvents.
Exposure to VOCs may result in both acute and chronic health effect. Many of the VOCs are strongly addictive and can result in the depression of the central nervous system. In sufficient quantities, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritations, headaches, dizziness, visual disorder, and many impairments. Many of the VOCs which have been measured indoors are known human or animal carcinogens. As existing knowledge of toxicological effect of VOCs and their mixture is still incomplete, it is always prudent to minimize exposure to them.
Indoor Benzene pollution mainly comes from Benzene containing adhesives, paints, coatings, water proof materials, and thinners. Group 1A carcinogen Headache or leukemia is possible after excessive intake. Reproductive and central nervous system would be badly affected. When pregnant women are exposed to Toluene, Xylene and Benzene mixtures, there will be an obvious increase in incidents of pregnancy syndromes such hypertension, nausea, anemia, or can even lead to miscarriages.
Organic solvents used in many construction materials, such as thinners and additives of different paints and water-proof materials, contain large amounts of toluene. In our daily lives, toluene could be found in decorative materials, synthetic boards, adhesives, disinfections, and insecticides. The acute toxicity of toluene is rather low. However, chronic intake of low concentration toluene leads to disruption in blood is as high as 1250mg/m3, there is a decline in short-term memory and attention span.