Symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning: from furniture, machinery, building materials

Many people who purchase new furniture or plan to renovate the apartment face such a concept as formaldehyde. It turns out that this colorless gas can stand out in the air for years and have a negative impact on health. What is the source of formaldehyde and how dangerous it is, consider this article.

Brief description of the substance

Formaldehyde (methanol, formic aldehyde) is a colorless, toxic, highly soluble in water, polar solvents and alcohols gas with a sharp odor, class 1 hazard. Aqueous, urea stabilized formaldehyde solution is used in the furniture and woodworking industry for the production of particleboard and other "plywood" materials. It is used in the manufacture of polymer thermosets and in industrial organic synthesis. Widely used in light industry, medicine, cosmetology, agriculture. It is characterized by good antiseptic, bactericidal, tanning and preserving properties.

Norm content of formaldehyde in the air:

  • The maximum one-time maximum permissible concentration (MPC) of formaldehyde (Russia) is 0.05 mg / m³;
  • The average daily MAC (Russia) is 0.01 mg / m³;
  • MPC of substance in the air of living quarters (European countries): 120 μg / m 3 ;
  • Odor threshold: 0.07-0.2 mg / m 3 ;
  • Threshold of the reflex response of the animal organism: 0,04-0,098 mg / m 3 ;
  • Threshold of irritant effect on the mucous membrane of the human eye: 0.012 mg / m 3 .

Danger to humans

Formaldehyde is the main air pollutant. It accumulates in the human body and is very difficult to remove from it. The most dangerous is the prolonged exposure of the substance to the body, in which it has an allergenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects. Clinical manifestations can develop at different times, which largely depends on the state of immunity. Some people have months, and some have years. Children, the elderly and people suffering from chronic diseases tend to have a strong negative influence. symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning

  • It has a pronounced toxicity and adversely affects the reproductive organs and genetic material. The danger of a mutagen is that the substance not only leads to the development of somatic mutations, but also the organism itself accumulates these mutations and subsequently they are transmitted to the offspring.
  • Poisons the lungs, irritates the respiratory tract and makes breathing difficult. Is able to cause asthma and trigger asthmatic attacks.
  • Irritates the eyes and skin, provokes the development of neurotic specimens.
  • It causes the development of gastrointestinal ulcers, damage to the kidneys and liver, leading to an unaccountable decrease in body weight.
  • Has a pronounced negative effect on the central nervous system: causes fatigue, headaches, depression, depression. It worsens working capacity and general health.

It is listed in the list of carcinogenic substances. The international agency conducting a cancer risk assessment has proven the relationship of formaldehyde, which is used in the manufacture of plastics, resins, paint and varnish materials, textiles, and as a preservative and disinfectant, with an increased risk of oncological neoplasm of the nasopharynx.

Sources of formaldehyde release in everyday life

Our houses and apartments, which are a place for resting the soul and body, we ourselves or the hands of careless builders and workers can turn into a real chemical laboratory! In addition to the hazardous formaldehyde, phenol, toluene, xylene, benzene, styrene, etc. can be present in the air of living quarters. If we neglect elementary airing, the concentration of harmful chemistry can grow by a factor of two in just a day.

According to WHO statistics, air in urban residential areas is 4-6 times dirtier than on the street, and the main contribution to the chemical "bouquet" is made by finishing and building materials and furniture.

Formaldehyde vapor is a product of combustion of organic substances that are present in:

  • exhaust gases of cars (therefore exceedances are more often registered in apartments of houses located along large transport highways);
  • smog;
  • tobacco smoke, including from electronic cigarettes;
  • evaporation from fireplaces, gas stove.

The chemical vapor evaporates into the air from the building materials:

  • Particleboard, fiberboard, FRP, from which the prevailing amount of modern furniture is produced. Plates impregnated with urea-formaldehyde and phenol-formaldehyde resins (which constitute 6 - 18% of the total mass of the material) are the main building material - a source of formaldehyde in the house. For those who do not know the smell of formaldehyde, there is a simple way to "get acquainted with it" - go to the market to the point where the chipboard is sold, and smell to the plates;
  • MDF, OSB, plywood with phenol-formaldehyde resins in the composition, used for interior finishing and warming of residential buildings;
  • glues, mastics, paints, varnishes, sealants (especially cheap ones);
  • market, uncertified finishing materials: wallpaper, laminate, linoleum, plinth, etc., which are the most fonjaschimi of finishing materials.

Also the source of the substance can be:

  • All the cracks that are sealed. The prevalent proportion of sealants is based on resins that release harmful gas;
  • Soundproof materials and heaters made of foam, cheap components, fastened with resins;
  • beds, mattresses, sofas and other upholstered furniture, carpets, heavy curtains. Formaldehyde from furniture is allocated, if it was used in its production (at any stage of technological production). But formaldehyde in tissues (carpets and curtains) can accumulate from other sources and subsequently be released into the air.

One of the first signs of the presence of an increased content of the substance in the air is the appearance of a sharp characteristic odor, which can be characterized as hospital or pharmacy. This smell is palpable even at a concentration of 25 times less than permissible. Some people think that new furniture smells like this, but in fact, it's the smell of formaldehyde.

Symptoms of acute and chronic formaldehyde poisoning

Serious poisoning with internal reception of a solution of formaldehyde and ingestion of a substance on the skin, as well as poisoning it with vapors are possible under conditions of chemical and other production, in which the chemical is part of the technological process. At home, inhalation of formaldehyde occurs in the body during respiration.

Poisoning with formaldehyde can develop in three ways:

  • when ingested;
  • by inhalation;
  • if it gets on the skin.

Accordingly, the symptomatology will also vary, prevailing on the part of a certain system: if swallowed, the gastrointestinal tract becomes more affected, while inhalation hits - respiratory organs.

Short-term exposure to a large amount of substance in the body leads to the development of acute poisoning, and long-term intake in small doses, even slightly exceeding the MPC, causes chronic poisoning. Signs of poisoning vary and vary from person to person.

Symptoms of acute formaldehyde poisoning Symptoms of Chronic Poisoning
Nervous system Severe headache, complete loss of strength, impaired coordination, trembling of hands, convulsions, impaired consciousness, coma Sleep disorders, mental agitation, persistent headaches, chronic fatigue, drowsiness, lethargy, inhibition, coordination disorder (see chronic fatigue syndrome )
Reproductive system - Violation of the menstrual cycle in women
Vegetative manifestations Severe chills Trembling, chills at normal T, impaired sweating and thermoregulation
Respiratory system Coryza, cough, shortness of breath, choking, swelling of the pharynx and lungs Persistent dry cough, irritation of the nose, throat and asthma attacks
Leather Blanching of the skin, blisters on the skin (when the substance gets on the skin) Allergies, skin irritation, up to eczema, dermatitis, nail damage
The organs of sight Lachrymation, pain in the eyes, acute conjunctivitis, dilated pupils

Eye irritation,

visual impairment

Organs of digestion Increased salivation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, severe pain along the esophagus (with internal route of exposure) Impairment of appetite, weight loss, indigestion
The cardiovascular system Increase in heart rate, sharp fall of blood pressure Horseracing blood pressure

Internal reception of 60-90 ml of an aqueous solution of formaldehyde (formalin) leads to death! The concentration of the substance in the air, equal to 20 mg / m 3 , leads to death within 30 minutes of exposure!

If timely first aid is not provided in case of acute poisoning, the following conditions develop which directly endanger life:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding. This is a consequence of the internal ingestion of a substance into the body (accidental or deliberate use), which develops when the vascular walls of the submucosal layer of the stomach and duodenum are eroded. The patient notes increasing weakness, there is a dark vomiting or vomiting with blood, a black liquid stool.
  • Acute liver failure, toxic hepatitis. Also develops when the substance gets inside. The skin and mucous membranes yellow, the pain in the right hypochondrium is marked, the consciousness is disturbed.
  • Acute damage to the kidneys: swelling, complete absence of urine.
  • Acute circulatory failure.
  • Swelling of the mucosa of the larynx, lungs develops with poisoning in pairs and leads to suffocation.

First aid for victims

The most important thing is to immediately call an ambulance! From the time of her arrival, the life of a person often depends.

  • The victim needs to ensure the influx of fresh air and peace. If inhalation poisoning takes place, you should remove / remove a person from this room.
  • Wash the victim with clean cool water (if he is conscious and there are no signs of getting into the body). You can not try to wash the stomach by yourself, induce vomiting: this will be done by physicians using special solutions.
  • Rinse the affected area of ​​the skin with running cool water for 15-20 minutes, another formaldehyde solution hit the skin.
  • Ensure airway patency in case the person is unconscious: put it on your back and turn your head to the side.

Inpatient treatment of acute formaldehyde poisoning

As a rule, even at the scene of the incident, the first aid brigade conducts activities that prevent further complications and save a person's life:

  • Probe washing of the stomach cavity with water or saline.
  • The introduction of hemostatic drugs in the event of signs of bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.
  • The introduction of painkillers with severe pain (often with a burn of the esophagus), drugs that stabilize vital signs: palpitation, pressure, breathing.
  • Setting up a dropper with solutions to reduce intoxication.
  • Intubation and artificial respiration with laryngeal edema.

The victim is hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit or in the Toxicology Unit, where he is diagnosed and treated as follows:

  • introduction of ammonium carbonate or 3% chloride - formalin antidotes;
  • hemodialysis (with kidney damage);
  • surgical intervention in the presence of bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract;
  • other infusion therapy in the required volume.

The forecast largely depends on the timeliness of the provision of medical care. In any case, this is a life-threatening condition requiring serious in-patient treatment. After the poisoning has been carried out, the sensitivity to formaldehyde is significantly increased, so a subsequent similar situation can become fatal!

How to check the air of living areas for the content of formaldehyde

It is easy to suspect trouble: if at home you feel bad, do not get enough sleep, there is constant irritability and discomfort - it's time to take air measurements in the apartment. People react differently to a chemical substance, some are characterized by hypersensitivity. Special vigilance should be shown if you have recently moved to a new home or have been renovated in an apartment.

The concentration of formaldehyde that is created in the premises depends not only on the sources of its release, but also on the temperature and humidity of the air, the type and speed of ventilation (the frequency of ventilation), the type of heating (central or stove) and the availability of other sources that use combustion processes (smokers , gas stoves).

  • New materials are active excreters of chemistry in the air.
  • The release of formaldehyde decreases with the "aging" of materials and reaches background values ​​in 3-5 years. However, when it comes to soft furniture, chemistry can be separated even after 10 years of operation.
  • High temperatures and high humidity, stove heating, gas stoves determine increased release of the substance into the air.

How and when to start analyzing the air in the premises?

Most often people turn to the laboratory immediately after buying furniture or repairing. But it's better to wait 1-3 months. Even after the best quality repair, it is recommended to ventilate the apartment well for several weeks. The same applies to the option when new furniture is bought.

  • It is not necessary to contact the organization on the basis of which the laboratory operates (even if it is accredited) and who themselves conduct apartment repairs. There is a high probability that the results will be falsified in order to impose your own repairs and "safe" materials.
  • The measurements should be carried out by representatives of the sanitary-epidemiological service or specialists of an independent accredited laboratory.
  • Household devices for home control of the air environment give only an indicative estimate!

How are the measurements carried out? Most often, laboratory experts conduct air research in an apartment and on the street simultaneously, and immediately on several of the most common pollutants - formaldehyde, nitrogen, ammonia, carbon, phenol and hydrogen sulfide. On average, the procedure takes 30-40 minutes. With the help of devices, air is pumped through special liquid reagents, which are placed in sorption tubes (for each chemical - its own). The analysis of the selected samples is carried out by different methods already in the laboratory, one of the modern ones is gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection

How to check furniture for formaldehyde?

Chemical analysis of a sample of material is carried out in laboratories and requires the provision of this sample itself. those. with part of the furniture will have to say goodbye. Well, if the furniture was made to order, and the sample was preserved. In other cases, you have to sacrifice something.

Those who believe that you can save on materials and then check them for "cleanliness", after passing for examination, we hasten to disappoint - the study of materials for the presence of formaldehyde is not an expensive pleasure, so as a result, the purchase can become golden, and if it turns out , that the material is poor-quality, it will be insulting doubly.

How to protect yourself from harmful chemicals

Unfortunately, no preventive measure can guarantee 100% of the air purity in the room. However, observance of simple safety rules will minimize the likelihood that you breathe a mixture of chemicals, rather than pure air:

  • Carefully choose building and finishing materials and buy them in stores, not in markets.
  • If possible, give preference to products from solid wood or metal. When buying materials from pressed wood, you should choose laminated products or with veneered ends.
  • Ask the sellers documents that are a mandatory requirement of the technical regulations on the safety of building materials:
    • certificate or declaration of conformity with the registered manufacturer and place of production;
    • quality passport;
    • technical documents on safe use.
  • Be sure to keep copies of certificates and checks. If in the future in the air of the premises toxic substances are identified, the source of which were those or other materials, within 2 years you can file a claim to the store.
  • Do not use for interior repairs materials that are intended for outdoor use! Yes, they are often cheaper, but they are subject to other security requirements, less stringent.
  • Do not buy on the inscription "environmentally friendly", "environmentally friendly". They are not regulated by law in any way and do not guarantee that the material is safe. The main proof of security - the relevant documents!
  • Also, do not buy on quick-drying, ultra-flexible, extra-strong and other materials with improved properties. Most often, all these additional effects are achieved by a variety of chemical additives.
  • Do not settle in the apartment / house immediately after repair and "packaging" it with new furniture: at least the first 3 months your cozy home is nothing more than a small environmental disaster. Even if separately each chemical does not exceed the norm, but their combined effect, and sometimes mutual reinforcement of the negative effect on humans, create dangerous air pollution.
  • Maintain a healthy microclimate in the living quarters: often ventilate the rooms and do not abuse the heaters.
  • Wash fabrics before use.
  • Get indoor plants that can absorb "chemistry": dracaena, fern, chrysanthemum bush, ivy.
  • Acquiring air purifiers, give preference to photocatalytic devices. Scientifically proven that they are able to remove formaldehyde from the air.
  • As for the protective polyurethane coating on products made of pressed wood, which are able to hold the substance inside the product and prevent its evaporation into the air, this is a relative protection. For effective protection, such coatings must completely cover the surface of the product, including corners, edges, edges, which is not always feasible.

In addition to chemical air pollution, radiation, electromagnetic radiation, bacterial contaminants, allergens, dust mites and a number of other environmental factors can adversely affect health and worsen people's health, therefore it is recommended to carry out a comprehensive environmental examination of living quarters, which, unfortunately, will not be expensive .

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