Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring organic compound. It is made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen with the chemical formula CH2O. It is a colorless gas at room temperature, but it can be easily converted into a wide variety of derivatives that are commonly used instead of the gas. Unfortunately, its safety and toxicity rating has a long history of controversy. In 2011 the US National Toxicology Program officially declared formaldehyde as a human carcinogen (cancer causing agent). Ingestion is known to causing vomiting, dizziness and even death. The following are the most common uses of formaldehyde.
Uses of Formaldehyde
- Formaldehyde based resins are used to make fabrics crease resistant.
- Some of these resins are also used as permanent adhesives on plywood (particle-board) and carpet. They also provide the wet strength of products like; facial tissues, napkins and paper towel.
- Formaldehyde based materials are also used in the manufacturing of automobiles.
- It is also commonly used a disinfectant because it kills most bacteria and fungi. Due to its effectiveness it is used as a preservative in cosmetics and in the production of vaccines (to prevent contamination of other viruses or bacteria). Unfortunately, in some parts of the world it is still used, illegally, for preserving food.
- Solutions of formaldehyde are also used to dry the skin, which is common in over-the-counter wart treatment.
- Other solutions of this chemical are used for embalming to disinfect and preserve human and animal remains. This is because it is able to preserve cells in their natural state.