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Formaldehyde

Key Points

 

Fire

  • Flammable
  • Reactive with strong oxidising agents, bases and acrylonitrile
  • Emits toxic fumes of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide when heated to decomposition; and hydrogen gas on reaction with strong bases
  • In the event of a fire involving formaldehyde, use alcohol resistant foam, or normal foam if not available, and liquid tight protective clothing with breathing apparatus

 

Health

  • Due to its gaseous nature, inhalation and eye exposure are most likely
  • Possible carcinogen, toxic and corrosive
  • Inhalation of formaldehyde can lead to irritation of the nose, mouth and throat. In severe cases, respiratory distress and swelling of the larynx and lungs may occur
  • Ingestion of formaldehyde can cause burns and ulcers in the stomach or intestines in the early stages after ingestion. Chest or abdominal pain, sickness, diarrhoea and haemorrhages in the stomach or intestines may also result. Other clinical features include rapid breathing, yellowish discolouration of the skin, blood in the urine and kidney failure
  • Exposure of the eyes to formaldehyde causes immediate stinging and burning with spasm of the eyelids and tearing. High concentrations may cause burns to the cornea
  • Skin contact with concentrated formaldehyde gas can cause burns to the skin

 

Environment

  • Avoid release into the environment
  • Inform Environment Agency of substantial incidents
     

 

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Compendium of Chemical Hazards