Formaldehyde - What is it, what are the common sources and is it dangerous? | Dyson Community

Formaldehyde - What is it, what are the common sources and is it dangerous?

  • 4 October 2021
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What is formaldehyde and what are the common sources of it?

Formaldehyde is a colourless gas pollutant, which can be released by furniture and wooden products containing formaldehyde-based resins. Materials such a plywood and fibreboard, insulation and do-it-yourself products such as paint, wallpapers, varnishes and household cleaning products can all release formaldehyde.

Being 500 times smaller than 0.1 microns, formaldehyde is particularly difficult to capture and, when left undetected, can be trapped in a home for years.

Research indicates that the main source of indoor formaldehyde pollution in China comes from the gas being released after decorating a home. If left alone, it has been reported to persist for between three to 15 years due to continuous off-gassing¹.

Chinese Home Indoor Formaldehyde White Paper, CHEARI, 2019.

Is exposure to formaldehyde dangerous?

The impact of formaldehyde has been widely reported by the World Health Organisation and other research bodies, with some governmental institutions setting formaldehyde safety limitations and regulating its usage.

While in-home formaldehyde readings at any given time may appear low, potential continuous exposure through off-gassing can sometimes occur over multiple years. This is particularly relevant for homes that have been recently renovated. In a 2019 report, it was found that 50% of Chinese households have indoor formaldehyde concentrations exceeding international and local standards of 0.10mg/m3².

A different study released in the same year, revealed that in a fifth of the 47 UK homes tested for the pollutant showed move than double the levels deemed safe³. In fact, US authorities such as Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim that there are small amounts of formaldehyde in almost all homes⁴.

Formaldehyde levels within homes can be exacerbated by how well sealed they are, as a well-sealed home can trap indoor pollutants. This can result in greater exposure over time.

What can you do to reduce formaldehyde within your home?

As well as selecting DIY and renovation products that don’t contain formaldehyde, increasing ventilation and using purification within a space can help to remove the gas from your home. Dyson’s new Purifier Formaldehyde range not only sense formaldehyde with their intelligent solid-state sensor, but they also destroy it, using Dyson’s Selective Catalytic Oxidisation (SCO) filter.

Some formaldehyde sensors are gel-based, so can dry out over time, causing the precision and performance of the sensor to deteriorate. Dyson’s formaldehyde sensor is solid-state, and so doesn’t dry out, lasting the lifetime of the machine. Its intelligent algorithm precisely senses formaldehyde levels without confusing it with other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

As well as sensing formaldehyde, Dyson’s SCO filter captures and destroys the pollutant at a molecular level, breaking it down into tiny amounts of water and CO2. It then regenerates from the oxygen in the air to keep destroying it continuously without ever requiring replacement.

Formaldehyde levels detected by the Dyson Purifier Formaldehyde are reported via the LCD screen and the Dyson Link App. This helps to reassure the user that the invisible pollutant is being captured and destroyed, supporting a healthier indoor space.

To read more about Formaldehyde at Dyson, click on the Formaldehyde: the invisible indoor pollutant link.

[1] Chinese Home Indoor Formaldehyde White Paper, CHEARI, 2019.

[2] Chinese Home Indoor Formaldehyde White Paper, CHEARI, 2019.

[3] Airtopia, Clean Air Day, 2019.

[4] Formaldehyde in your home- what you need to know, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.


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