Formaldehyde is one of the most common chemicals in the world. Widely used in many industries, there is growing concern that long-term exposure to formaldehyde might be linked to significant health issues. If such a link were established it would undoubtedly result in a significant spike in litigation.
Does A Link Exist?
Numerous studies have been undertaken in recent years to establish if there is a causal relationship between significant illness, including leukemia, and exposure to formaldehyde-containing products. Some recent studies have focused specifically on a possible link between formaldehyde exposure and the development of leukemia in humans.
Sources of Exposure
Formaldehyde is a virtually ubiquitous chemical. It is found in everyday household objects such as composite wood (particle board) cabinetry and furniture, in plastics, insulation and wall paneling materials. Those in medical professions and mortuary personnel are exposed to formaldehyde as are people involved in cabinet-making, mobile home manufacturing and the building trades when working with formaldehyde-containing products. People are also exposed to formaldehyde from automobile exhaust, byproducts of home heating and cooking, and, cigarette smoke including secondary smoke. Formaldehyde-contaminated food and water can also be significant sources of exposure.
Proving the Connection
Detecting formaldehyde in the body and establishing a clear causal connection between formaldehyde exposure and any objective illness has proven challenging to scientists examining the causal relationship. This is partially because of how formaldehyde is metabolized. However, studies continue to be done to determine if links can be established between human illnesses and formaldehyde exposure.