Formaldehyde, a volatile organic compound (VOC), is emitted into the air from a wide variety of sources, including cigarette smoke, pressed wood and particleboard.
But in work environments such as laboratories, hospitals and mortuaries, concentrations of formaldehyde in the air can reach dangerous levels. Specifically in laboratories, formaldehyde usually appears as formalin, a dissolved gas in a water-based solution, making exposure relatively easy even when precautions are in place. Workers can, for instance, inhale the substance in its gas or vapor form or through the skin as a liquid. Areas of the lab with high concentrations of formaldehyde typically include storage, preparation, dissection and specimen disposal areas.
Hazards of formaldehyde
The most frequent health problems experienced by people exposed to formaldehyde include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. But formaldehyde exposure can also cause headaches, insomnia, attention deficit, memory loss, nose bleeds, immune system problems, dexterity issues and mood swings. Formaldehyde exposure in the workplace has also been linked to cancer of the nose and throat.
Protection is critical
Because formaldehyde is potentially hazardous, laboratory managers often look for the most up-to-date methods for formaldehyde removal and control. Standard laboratory safety procedures such as the use of goggles, face masks, protective gloves and hazmat suits work well in protecting technicians.
In conjunction with the use of this protective gear, air purification and improved ventilation helps control formaldehyde exposure. A high-performance air purifier such as IQAir’s CleanZone® 5000 or the GCX™ Series can dramatically reduce harmful gases and vapors from the air. These stand-alone air purifiers are designed for the strenuous commercial use required by laboratories. IQAir’s purifiers feature high-quality carbon from bituminous coal to fight odors, remove gases and eliminate VOCs. IQAir systems also offer protection against particles of all sizes.
IQAir offers custom solutions
Many laboratory managers turn to air quality experts and customized solutions to help rid laboratories of gaseous pollutants, or VOCs, such as formaldehyde. IQAir air quality specialists are available to tailor systems to meet any laboratory’s needs. In combination with standard laboratory protective measures, IQAir technologies can provide the highest level of air filtration. Both powerful stand-alone air cleaning systems or HVAC-based air filtration systems are available. Filtration options are also offered to supplement existing laboratory systems.
For more information about lab safety and what you need to know about air quality in your laboratory, download a free copy now of IQAir’s e-book for lab managers.