Exposure to plywood can put people in contact with hazardous chemicals. Best way to deal with a potential threat is to be informed about it.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials.
Health effects of formaldehyde
Formaldehyde can cause:
- Watery eyes
- Burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat
- Skin irritation
- High levels of exposure may cause cancers
Where formaldehyde is found
Most commonly formaldehyde is found in:
- Resins used in the manufacture of composite wood products (i.e., hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard)
- Building materials and insulation
- Household products such as glues, permanent press fabrics, paints and coatings, lacquers and finishes, and paper products
- Preservatives used in some medicines, cosmetics and other consumer products such as dishwashing liquids and fabric softeners
- Fertilizers and pesticides
How you can be exposed to formaldehyde
- The primary way you can be exposed to formaldehyde is by breathing air containing off-gassed formaldehyde.
- Everyone is exposed to small amounts of formaldehyde in the air that has off-gassed from products, including composite wood products.
The relationship between formaldehyde and cancer?
- Since the 1980s, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), has conducted studies to determine whether there is an association between occupational exposure to formaldehyde and an increase in the risk of cancer.
- Several NCI surveys of professionals who are potentially exposed to formaldehyde in their work, such as anatomists and embalmers, have suggested that these individuals are at an increased risk of leukemia and brain cancer compared with the general population
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also found an association between the duration of exposure to formaldehyde and leukemia deaths