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Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas that can be carcinogenic to humans, and is a common additive to building materials and household products. Formaldehyde is also formed in the environment upon oxidation of a variety of hydrocarbons, including natural gas (methane). Symptoms of exposure to low concentrations of formaldehyde may include headache, nausea, throat and skin irritation, and exacerbated chemical sensitivity. For a quick summary of formaldehyde exposure basics, please see the ASTDR’s ToxFAQs for Formaldehyde. For much more in-depth information, please see the ASTDR’s Toxicological Profile for Formaldehyde.

In Public Lab, we’ve been exploring low-cost methods for monitoring airborne concentrations of formaldehyde and low-cost methods for mitigating exposure to it.

Formaldehyde projects

Projects related to formaldehyde monitoring and exposure mitigation can be found on the following wikis.

Low-cost monitoring of airborne formaldehyde using colorimetric tubes:

Low-cost monitoring of airborne formaldehyde using a passive badge sampler and smartphone app:

Personal exposure to formaldehyde (and information about exposure):

Low-cost remediation or airborne formaldehyde:

Current formaldehyde research in Public Lab

Follow active development on the tag 'formaldehyde.'

You can also subscribe to to the formaldehyde tag to get email updates when a research note, wiki, or question gets tagged as related to formaldehyde.

Questions in Public Lab related to formaldehyde

Title Author Updated Likes
What happens if I inhale too much formaldehyde? @liz 4 months ago
My VOC readings are maxing out at 9.99mg/cubic meter. Is there a better instrument? @liz 8 months ago
Formaldehyde levels @Ag8n over 1 year ago

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Activities to try in Public Lab related to formaldehyde

Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Field Test of DIY formaldehyde testing and remediation kit - - @nshapiro - - 0 replications: Try it »
Build a plant-based air purifier build in-progress @nshapiro 3h easy 5 replications: Try it »
Snake Plant Air Remediation Build & Partial Teardown - - @jfrankamp - - 0 replications: Try it »

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Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

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