Department of Environmental Conservation

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Formaldehyde (H2CO)

Bernice D'Smog (Pollutant: Formaldehyde) Air Villain

Formaldehyde (H2CO)


Alias: Bernice D'Smog

Description: (Compound) At room temperature, formaldehyde is a flammable gas that dissolves easily in water. It has a distinct, pungent smell.

Crime: Low levels of formaldehyde irritate the eyes, nose, throat and skin, and cause headaches and fatigue. People with asthma are more sensitive to formaldehyde. High levels may cause nose and throat cancer.

Cause: Formaldehyde is used in many materials in the home and workplace, such as plywood and carpeting. Because of this, it is a common indoor air pollutant. Formaldehyde is also produced by combustion from forest fires, automobile exhaust, and cigarettes. It also interacts with sunlight and oxygen to help form smog.