Formaldehyde causes cancer and it is pertinent to know more about its removal. You can find this deadly chemical in glues, paints, lacquers and finishes. Formaldehyde is a human carcinogen that is also used in permanent press fabrics and in paper products. Not every air purifier can remove formaldehyde. In fact, the models you can buy in most department stores won’t have the filters required to remove formaldehyde and other dangerous chemicals.
Formaldehyde is often found in nail salons. For example, nail hardeners contain formaldehyde among many other dangerous chemicals that are commonplace in nail salons.
Due to the fact that most air purifiers rely simply on HEPA filters alone, these are great for filtering out fine particles, however, they are unable to remove VOCs (Volatile Organc Compunds) such as formaldehyde.
The best option for chemical and odor filtration is granular activated carbon. Activated carbon is charcoal or another natural substance (such as coconut shell) that was treated with oxygen to make it very porous so that it can adsorb chemicals, gases and odors from gases or liquids. Adsorption (different from absorption) means that these volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde attach themselves by way of chemical reaction to the surface of the activated carbon, meaning they are trapped in there.
This means that air purifiers with activated carbon filters can eliminate formaldehyde and hundreds of other chemicals from the ambient air. Activated carbon has a high-efficiency rating when it comes to removing formaldehyde. In one independent test, an air purifier with an 18 lb. activated carbon filter was able to remove high levels of formaldehyde from a closed-off room in under six hours.
So, if you combine an activated carbon filter with a HEPA filter, the air purifier will be able to remove chemicals such as formaldehyde as well as particles and provide better overall indoor air quality. The amount of activated carbon is important. The more activated carbon the more efficient and longer-lasting the filters.
Formaldehyde is just one chemical out of thousands on the market today, and it’s only one of several hundred you might be exposed to each day and it keeps coming up in the news and in government-issued warnings. Do you need to care?
Yes. Formaldehyde is very much a concern to you since it is used in so many household products and materials.
Formaldehyde exists in construction and building materials in most modern homes. It’s common in composite wood products such as plywood and particleboard. It may be in your home’s insulation. It is even used as a preservative in some medicines, cosmetics, fabric softeners as well as dish-washing liquids. Formaldehyde is released in tobacco smoke, word-burning and gas stoves. So, chances are fairly high that you and your family (and pets, co-workers, etc.) are exposed to formaldehyde in your home or office.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling gas odor that belongs to a group of organic compounds called aldehydes, which are formed by the oxidation of alcohols. Another typical aldehyde is acetaldehyde, a common chemical in the environment that may also be formed in the body from the breakdown of ethanol. Suffering from a hangover? Now you know why.
The reason why people are starting to take notice is that formaldehyde has been linked to cancer over time and sometimes, exposure can lead to immediate health effects. The EPA lists symptoms such as watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing. These effects can often be seen in people who were exposed to elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per million). High concentrations may also trigger attacks in people with asthma. Some individuals may develop a sensitivity to formaldehyde after being exposed to the VOC over a long time or in high concentrations.
Particle board picture:
Attribution: D-Kuru/Wikimedia Commons
Our standard “EXEC” carbon blend has a very large internal surface area and works exceptionally well for a wide range of air pollutants.
The “Vocarb” carbon blend is our most recommended and best-selling specialty carbon blend. Vocarb stands for Volatile organic compounds or VOCs and this include a variety of chemicals that can cause a range of health problems including shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and eye, nose, lung and throat irritation. Some VOC's are suspected to cause cancer in humans and have been shown to cause cancer in animals. The long-term health effects caused by VOC's would depend on the concentration and length of exposure.
Some chemicals adhere better to different types of carbon materials and carbon blends. Over the years we’ve sourced and developed over 40 carbon blends. If you have an odor or chemical you need to remove, we have a blend to target it