Customer Question & Answer (0)
What is formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a chemical compound that is widely used in industrial manufacturing and a number of other industries. It is a colourless, flammable, strong smelling chemical which is gas at room temperature but also readily soluble in water.
What are the risks of formaldehyde?
When formaldehyde is present in the air at levels exceeding 0.1 ppm, some individuals may experience adverse effects such as watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat;
coughing; wheezing; nausea; and skin irritation. Some people are very sensitive to formaldehyde, whereas others have no reaction to the same level of exposure.
In addition to this, formaldehyde is classified as a human carcinogen under conditions of high and prolonged exposure.
Where is formaldehyde found and why is it present?
Formaldehyde is often found in everyday products such as handbags, footwear, accessories, garments, beauty and cosmetic products and areas of application include adhesives, textile processing and as a preservative in some paints, coating products and also in some cosmetics. Formaldehyde is also used in the production of some polymers. It is also used during embalming processes to preserve corpses.
Historically, formaldehyde has been used as a tanning agent due to its ability to crosslink proteins such as collagen. In addition, it has been used (again historically) to crosslink protein finishes such as casein. In modern processing, formaldehyde can be used in the manufacture of certain polymericbased synthetic tanning agents. Its presence in leather may be as a result of the condensation residue from some synthetic tanning agents. Some biocides are also formaldehyde generators.
What legislation relates to formaldehyde?
Restricted substance legislation is highly variable depending upon:
- the final application of the leather in the product
- the target user
- the country where the leather or product is manufactured or sold
Formaldehyde is commonly restricted according to the end consumer (i.e. adult or child) with the acceptable limits for children being significantly lower than those for adults. Formaldehyde is one of the key examples of how variable the restrictions can be.
Within Europe there is no general legislation that limits the presence of formaldehyde in leather. Some individual countries have restrictions on its presence in consumer products. Various Eco-labels require that levels of formaldehyde are determined, and the automotive industry tends to have strict limits on formaldehyde release from car interior materials.
What are the limits for formaldehyde?
Brands and retailers have recently imposed restrictions that go beyond compliance, setting limits in the region of 20-30ppm.