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When you think of formaldehyde, thoughts of eighth grade science class come to mind. Remember keeping your dead amphibian in formaldehyde in order to keep its body parts from deteriorating? Well, formaldehyde has many other uses, and it's actually found in your home. Formaldehyde is a chemical compound that doesn't have a color, and it doesn't have a smell. It's naturally found in the air we breathe both inside and outside. Formaldehyde is traditionally used to adhere the pressed wood used in building your home and is also used when making plywood for your home. Federal regulations have limited the use of formaldehyde in homes built since 1985, but formaldehyde compounds are still used in the construction of cabinets, tables, and other wood furniture.

Why can formaldehyde be harmful?
You want to make sure the formaldehyde used in your home is kept at a minimal level. Formaldehyde in higher-than-normal levels has been proven to cause cancer in animals. While there is no evidence that it can cause cancer in humans, it can also be harmful for those with asthma. Formaldehyde has been known to cause watery eyes, skin rashes, breathing problems, and ear, nose, and throat irritations.

How do you solve the formaldehyde problem?
Talk with your builder. Ask them about how the wood was made and how much formaldehyde is in your wood. Ask them if that will cause any problems, and if there are other options for using wood with lower levels of formaldehyde. If you're buying a previously-built older home, you may want to ask your home inspector to check to make sure the formaldehyde level in the home is safe.
If your home has a high formaldehyde level, make sure your home is well ventilated. You want to avoid breathing formaldehyde sitting still inside your home. If the high levels of formaldehyde is a result of your furniture, you may want to remove those products from your home.