Many people are exposed to formaldehyde every day without even knowing it. This chemical, commonly used in the medical world to preserve dead tissue samples, is a suspected carcinogen and is found in everyday items as a preservative or adhesive in products such as drapes, cosmetics, particleboard, clothing and pharmaceuticals. A formaldehyde test can determine the amount of formaldehyde in the environment or within a specific person. A do-it-yourself formaldehyde test kit is one easy and effective way to figure out how much of this chemical is released into the air of a dwelling on a regular basis.
A good formaldehyde test should be able to detect minute levels of this chemical in a setting such as a house. It is a good idea to select a formaldehyde test that can be sent away for proper laboratory testing. Analysis of the results at home may not be as accurate or sensitive as those whose results are interpreted by trained professionals in a sterile and controlled setting.
Formaldehyde effects can range from mild to severe. Exposure can build up over time, leading to cumulative effects and a greater sensitivity to formaldehyde over time. Irritation of the eyes, ears, nose and throat, coughing, rashes and hives, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and nosebleeds are considered mild and moderate problems that formaldehyde can cause when unacceptable exposure levels are reached. If these symptoms are apparent, or if formaldehyde exposure is suspected, a formaldehyde test may be warranted.
Formaldehyde emissions can be brought down in a number of ways. Introducing proper ventilation, reducing the humidity level and treating items that contain formaldehyde with special sealants can reduce the amount of formaldehyde in a home. Regulating the temperature and humidity of a home prevents a process known as off gassing, in which gasses, including formaldehyde fumes, are released from items due to changes in climate.
There are a few things to check for when choosing a formaldehyde test. First, make sure laboratory testing fees are included. Some tests will include this in the purchase price, while others will include a list of laboratories and leave the consumer to pay for the testing. Also make sure that the manufacturer's instructions are easy to understand and the test can be performed accurately in a living space. Not following instructions can lead to a false result, giving the consumer inaccurate information or leading to the purchase of a second test kit and more fees.