Formaldehyde is a chemical widely used by industry to manufacture building materials and numerous household products. It is also used as a preservative in laboratories, as embalming fluid, and as a sterilizer.
Its primary use is in the production of resins and as a chemical intermediate. It is also a by-product of combustion and certain other natural processes. This means it may be present in substantial concentrations both indoors and outdoors.
As far back as 1987 the Environmental Protection Agency classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) does classify formaldehyde as a human carcinogen and the California Air Resource Board (ARB) has classified formaldehyde as a Toxic Air Contaminant.
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