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National Cancer Institute at the NIH Classifies Formaldehyde as a Carcinogen

June 11, 2011 in Articles | MARTIN WREN, P.C. | LEAVE A COMMENT

According to a report issued by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health, the chemical Formaldehyde has been officially classified as a cancer risk.  In some ways, this probably isn’t a huge surprise–one whiff of the chemical gives a pretty good indication that it is not healthy for one’s lungs and nasal passages.  With this report, however, suspicions about the dangers of this chemical have been confirmed and the potential effects of this danger can be far-reaching due to the sheer prevalence of formaldehyde in today’s society.

Some of the most common sources of formaldehyde include:

– building materials such as some insulations and pressed products, including particle board and plywood;

– household products, including some clothing, draperies, paints, and cosmetics;

– certain fuel-burning appliances, such as wood burning stoves, gas stoves, and kerosene heaters;

– certain industries where formaldehyde-based products are used or created, such as for laboratory technicians, certain health care professionals, and mortuary employees;

– automobile tailpipe/exhaust emissions; and

– cigarette smoke.

While it is true that formaldehyde occurs in nature at approximately .03 parts per million, harmful short-term exposure can occur to individuals exposed to as little as .1 parts per million.  Not everyone is susceptible to symptoms at those levels, but, as with exposure to other harmful chemicals or particles, injuries can occur even without immediate symptoms arising.  (Look, for example, at mesothelioma cancer arising from asbestos exposure — the exposed individual experiences a latency period with no side effects whatsoever, yet the exposure plants deadly seeds that may not arise until long after the exposure occurs.)

For additional information regarding the dangers of formaldehyde, visit the following resources:

National Cancer Institute Factsheet on Dangers of Formaldehyde: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/formaldehyde

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Introduction to Indoor Air Quality, with emphasis on Formaldehyde: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/formalde.html

Robert Byrne, the author of this post, practices with MartinWren’s Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers group.  For further information on this topic or for information about Virginia Toxic Tort Attorneys, please feel free to contact Bob Byrne at 434-817-3100.

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