Formaldehyde is one of the most commonly used chemicals which is used in a wide range of processed products. It is used as a sterilizer, fumigant, preservative, etc. Formaldehyde is widely used for the production of plastic, paints, cosmetics and other pharmacological products.
Since the use of formaldehyde is rampant, there is increased risk of an individual coming in contact with the chemical at work or at home. Formaldehyde is a colorless gas which has a pungent odor. Though formaldehyde may be stored in liquid form, it is very volatile and tends to evaporate very easily.
Symptoms Of Exposure To Formaldehyde
The symptoms associated with formaldehyde poisoning depend upon the severity of the exposure and the quality of the chemical that is ingested or inhaled. Depending upon the severity, the symptoms are categorized based on low, moderate and high exposure. The symptoms include,
- Low exposure symptoms include irritation and burning in the eyes with excessive lacrymation. Often contact exposure is associated with irritation of the skin. Upper respiratory tract irritation which may result in coughing and soreness in the throat are commonly observed
- Moderate exposure symptoms include burning in the eyes and the respiratory tract. The individual may report of difficulty in breathing and the symptoms may be associated with persistent coughing
- High Exposure symptoms include irregular heartbeats with tightness and pain in the chest. Often the condition is associated with severe pulmonary irritation which may result in pulmonary edema and is responsible for death. Prolonged exposure is often associated with development of cancers.
Treatment For Formaldehyde Poisoning
The treatment for formaldehyde depends on the severity of the poisoning and the age and general health condition of the patient. Here are some simple steps for formaldehyde poisoning treatment,
- It is of prime importance that the cause of the poisoning be identified. This is crucial to prevent subsequent episodes of formaldehyde poisoning
- Once the cause is identified, doctors perform patch tests to determine the presence of formaldehyde in the patient’s body.
- Symptomatic treatment is provided to treat the patient. A gastric wash is given in order to wash out any of the accumulated formaldehyde which may have entered the body through the oral route.
- In cases of severe respiratory dysfunctions, the patients are put on to a mechanical ventilator, to pump in air and clear the gas accumulated in the respiratory system
- Medications and Drugs are prescribed to dilate the air passage and reduce edema in the air passages
Prevention Of Formaldehyde Exposure
Exposure to formaldehyde is inevitable, especially among workers working in industries using the chemical. Specific mandatory legislative norms have been designed and prescribed throughout the globe to prevent undue exposure to the chemical.
- Legal limits to allow maximum permissible limits of formaldehyde vapor are enforced in work environments. Since formaldehyde is an odorless gas, these mandatory legislation prevent undue exposure of the workers to the hazardous chemical
- Use of exhaust ventilators and other engineering control practices ensure worker safety.
- Use of personal protective equipments like use of eye protection, gloves and other safety apparel is mandatory in factories and industrial set ups using the harmful chemical.