Formaldehyde is an organic compound which is a colorless and toxic gas with a strong order. When at room temperatures it exists in its gaseous state, but can easily be converted to a liquid state when combined with other substances. It is used to create a number of other chemical compounds commonly used in the world today. It is particularly important in the production of polymers. Naturally formaldehyde is broken down quickly by sunlight or bacteria in soils. Within the body it is quickly converted to formic acid and expelled. When exposed to large doses the human body has trouble converting it quickly enough. It has recently been stated by the the US National Toxicology Program to be a carcinogen (cancer causing).
The Discovery of Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde was first discovered by August Wilhelm von Hofmann a German chemist in 1867. He was able to identify the substance but could not isolate it from other substances and show its chemical nature. It was not until 1892, when another German organic chemist, Friedrich August Kekule’ von Stradonitz, was completing work on chemical binds, that formaldehyde was isolated and understood.
Formaldehyde is used in to make many products and it is likely that you own something with formaldehyde in it. Each country has laws stating how formaldehyde can be used and in what levels. It is highly toxic to humans and the ingestion of as little as 30 mL (1 oz.) of a solution containing 37% formaldehyde can cause death in an adult.