Environmental Health


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Formaldehyde Testing

Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that is routinely analyzed in air quality assessments because it can be emitted from a variety of sources and can pose serious health concerns. Formaldehyde is formed primarily by combustion of organic materials (e.g. forest fire) and by different anthropogenic activities, such as automotive and industrial. Formaldehyde is widely used as an intermediate in industrial manufacturing, preservative, sterilizing agent. Exposure to formaldehyde in residential homes can be reduced by avoiding smoking indoors, ensuring proper functioning of fireplaces, not idling cars near doors or windows, selecting products with low formaldehyde content, and maintaining good ventilation and relative humidity below 50%.

CASSEN Testing Laboratories routinely conducts formaldehyde testing and provides sampling media for both active and passive sampling of formaldehyde. CASSEN also participates in the U.K.’s Workplace Analysis Scheme for Proficiency (WASP) program where we have ranked as high as #1 in Formaldehyde Testing in Canada, and internationally.

Common Sources of Formaldehyde

  • Laminate Flooring
  • Tobacco smoke from cigarettes and cigars
  • Household products: wallpaper, paint, coatings, cardboard and other paper products
  • Furniture, cabinetry and floor products that use wood products and/or acid-catalyzed urea-formaldehyde type finishes
  • Heating devices: woodstove, fireplaces, kerosene heaters, gas stoves
  • Wood products: particle boards, fibreboards and plywood that use adhesives with formaldehyde
  • Some carpets and textile fabric finishes
  • Vehicle emissions from attached garages or outdoors

Health Concerns

Formaldehyde is classified as a known human carcinogen associated with nasal sinus cancer by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) based on long-term exposure studies. Short-term exposure to formaldehyde by inhalation can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, difficulty breathing, and can trigger or aggravate asthma symptoms. Formaldehyde is soluble in water and highly reactive, so it is absorbed by the mucous membranes of the eyes and respiratory tract and causes irritation.

Formaldehyde Testing Options

  1. Bulk Material (Small portions of wood, carpets, flooring, insulation, etc.)
  2. Active Air sampling with cartridge containing silica gel coated with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH)
  3. Passive Air sampling with UMEX-100 Badge

CASSEN Benefits for Formaldehyde Testing

  • Ability to detect other light aldehydes such as acrolein and acetaldehyde at 1 ppb level
  • Sampling kit includes sampling media, containers, instructions, field data sheet and other relevant information
  • Rapid turnaround time with options for rush analysis
  • Accreditation by American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)
  • Quality assurance program in conformance with ISO 17025 Quality Standard to ensure data quality and sample integrity
  • Consistently high ranking in analytical accuracy and data quality based on the Workplace Analysis Scheme for Proficiency (WASP) program for formaldehyde