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Chemical Identifying Information for formaldehyde

CAS NUMBER: 50-00-0


1) Gaseous form:

  • Methanal
  • Methyl aldehyde
  • Methylene oxide

    2) Aqueous solution:

  • Formalin (30 to 50% formaldehyde by weight, which usually contains 6 to 12% methanol) [704]

    NIOSH Registry Number: LP8925000

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    EPA's Air Toxics Information



    WLN: VHH

    PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Gas: nearly colorless gas with a pungent, suffocating odor [704] Solution: clear, colorless liquid.

    SPECIFIC GRAVITY: 1.081-1.085 @ 25/25 C (37% solution) [031]

    DENSITY: 0.815 @ 20C/4C [706]

    MELTING POINT: -92 C [706]

    BOILING POINT: 96 C (37% solution) [031],[036] -21 C (gas) [706]


    Water: >=100 mg/mL @ 20.5 C [700]
    DMSO: >=100 mg/mL @ 20.5 C [700]
    95% Ethanol: >=100 mg/mL @ 20.5 C [700]
    Acetone: >=100 mg/mL @ 20.5 C [700]


    Petroleum ether: Insoluble [025]
    Ether: Soluble [017],[172]
    Benzene: Soluble [017]
    Most organic solvents: Soluble [025]
    Chloroform: Immiscible [295]


    Refractive index: 1.3746 @ 20 C [031]
    Pungent, suffocating odor [025]
    pH: 2.8-4.0 [031]
    Burning taste [455]
    Specific gravity: 0.815 @ 20/4 C [172]



    Vapor pressure: 93.60 mm Hg @ 38 C [700]
    Vapor density: 1.0 [451]

    FIRE HAZARD: Formaldehyde has a flash point of 85 C (185 F) (058). It is combustible. Fires involving this material may be controlled with a dry chemical, carbon dioxide or Halon extinguisher. A water spray may also be used [036],[058].

    The autoignition temperature of formaldehyde is 430 C (806 F) [043].

    LEL: 7.0% [043],[051],[451] UEL: 73.0% [043],[051],[451]

    REACTIVITY: Formaldehyde is a strong reducing agent, especially in the presence of alkalis. It is incompatible with ammonia, alkalis, tannin, bisulfides, iron preparations, copper salts, iron salts, silver salts, iodine and potassium permanganate. It combines directly with albumin, casein, gelatin, agar and starch to form insoluble compounds [031]. It reacts violently with nitrous oxides at about 180 C, (HClO4 + aniline), performic acid, nitromethane, manganese carbonate and hydrogen peroxide [043]. It reacts with strong oxidizers and acids [346]. It is also incompatible with phenols [295].

    STABILITY: Formaldehyde may become cloudy upon standing, especially at cool temperatures. It slowly oxidizes in air. It is sensitive to exposure to light [169],[295]. It is polymerized in aqueous solutions if unstabilized [169]. Solutions of it in water, DMSO, 95% ethanol or acetone should be stable for 24 hours under normal lab conditions [700].

    USES: Formaldehyde is used as a preservative, disinfectant and antiseptic, in embalming solutions and in the manufacture of phenolic resins, artificial silk, cellulose esters, dyes, urea, thiourea, melamine resins, organic chemicals, glass mirrors and explosives. It is also used in improving fastness of dyes on fabrics, in tanning and preserving hides, in mordanting and waterproofing fabrics, as a germicide and fungicide for vegetables and other plants, in destroying flies and other insects, in preserving and coagulating rubber latex and to prevent mildew and spelt in wheat and rot in oats. It is used to render casein, albumin, and gelatin insoluble, in chemical analysis, as a tissue fixative, as a component of particle board and plywood and in the manufacture of pentaerythritol, hexamethylenetetramine and 1,4-butanediol. It is also used in ceiling and wall insulation, in resins used to wrinkle-proof fabrics, in photography for hardening gelatin plates and papers, for toning gelatin-chloride papers and for chrome printing and developing. It is an intermediate in drug manufacture and a pesticide intermediate.

    COMMENTS: Commercial formulations generally consist of a 37% by weight solution of formaldehyde in water with 10-15% methanol added as a stabilizer.

    ACUTE/CHRONIC HAZARDS: Formaldehyde and its vapors are irritants to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes [036],[151],[301],[406]. It is also an irritant to all parts of the respiratory system [036],[301],[406]. It can be absorbed through the skin [169]. It can cause lacrimation [455]. Thermal decomposition products may include carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide [058].

    SYMPTOMS: Inhalation of formaldehyde may cause irritation of the eyes, mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract [036],[151],[301],[406]. It may also cause irritation of the nose [151]. Higher concentrations may cause bronchitis, pneumonia or laryngitis [036,151]. Exposure may also cause headache, dizziness, difficult breathing and pulmonary edema [215]. Coughing or dysphagia may also result. Contact with the vapor or solution causes skin to become white, rough, hard and anesthetic due to superficial coagulation necrosis. With long exposure, dermatitis and hypersensitivity frequently result [151]. Prolonged exposure may also cause cracking of skin and ulceration, especially around the fingernails and may also cause conjunctivitis [036]. Ingestion may cause immediate intense pain in the mouth and pharynx [151]. It may also cause abdominal pains with nausea, vomiting and possible loss of consciousness [036],[151],[301]. Other symptoms following ingestion include proteinuria, acidosis, hematemesis, hematuria, anuria, vertigo, coma and even death due to respiratory failure [031]. Occasional diarrhea (possibly bloody), pale, clammy skin and other signs of shock, difficult micturition, convulsions and stupor may also occur. Ingestion also leads to inflammation, ulceration and/or coagulation necrosis of the gastrointestinal mucosa [151]. Corrosive damage in the stomach and esophageal strictures sometimes occur and tissue destruction may extend as far as the jejunum. Circulatory collapse and kidney damage may also occur soon after ingestion. Severe lung changes may result from aspiration of the ingested compound in combination with stomach acid [151]. Degenerative changes may be found in the liver, kidneys, heart and brain. Primary points of attack for this compound include the respiratory system, lungs, eyes and skin [301]. Lacrimation may occur [455].

    Numbers in brackets [ ] are reference numbers in the source of this information.

    Source: Instant EPA's Air Toxics, Copyright 1994 by Instant Reference Sources, Inc. and Digital Liaisons, Austin, Texas

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    National Toxicology Program Data

    The data below is from Instant Tox-Base. This database contains data on over 1800 chemicals in a highly condensed tabular format. Abbreviations and Definitions used throughout can be viewed here but they are all hyperlinked to the text within Instant Tox-Base for convenience.

      Tumorigenic Data:
        TDLo: scu-rat    1170 mg/kg/65W-I
        TD  : scu-rat     350 mg/kg/78W-I
        TC  : ihl-rat      15 ppm/6H/78W-I
        TCLo: ihl-mus   14300 ppb/6H/2Y-I
        TC  : ihl-rat       6 ppm/6H/2Y-I
        TCLo: ihl-rat   14300 ppb/6H/2Y-I
        TC  : ihl-rat      15 ppm/6H/86W-I
        TC  : ihl-rat      14 ppm/6H/84W-I
        TC  : ihl-rat   18750 ug/m3/2Y-I
        TC  : ihl-mus      15 ppm/6H/104W-I
        TC  : ihl-rat      15 ppm/6H/2Y-I
        TC  : ihl-rat    5600 ppb/6H/2Y-I
        TC  : ihl-rat   14300 ppb/6H/2Y-I
      Review: IARC Cancer Review: Animal Sufficient Evidence
              IARC Cancer Review: Human Limited Evidence
              IARC probable human carcinogen (Group 2A) [015,610]
              EPA Carcinogen Assessment Group [610]
              ACGIH suspected human carcinogen [015,415,421]
              OSHA cancer suspect agent [610]
      Status: NTP Fourth Annual Report on Carcinogens, 1984
      Reproductive Effects Data:
        TCLo: ihl-rat     12 ug/m3/24H (15D pre/1-22D preg)
        TCLo: ihl-rat     12 ug/m3/24H (1-22D preg)
        TCLo: ihl-rat     35 ug/m3/8H (60D male)
        TCLo: ihl-rat      1 mg/m3/24H (1-22D preg)
        TDLo: ims-mus    259 mg/kg (11D preg)
        TDLo: orl-rat    200 mg/kg (1D male)
        TCLo: ihl-rat     12 ug/m3/24H (20D pre/1-22D preg)
        TCLo: ihl-rat     50 ug/m3/4H (1-19D preg)
        TDLo: scu-rat  46243 mg/kg (20D male)
        TDLo: itt-rat    400 mg/kg (1D male)
        TDLo: ipr-mus    240 mg/kg (7-14D preg)
        TDLo: ipr-mus    160 mg/kg (7-14D preg)
        TDLo: itt-dog      7 mg/kg (1D male)
        TDLo: itt-mky      4 mg/kg (1D male)
        TDLo: itt-dom   6667 ug/kg (1D male)
        TDLo: ipr-mus    500 mg/kg (5D male)
           test          lowest dose      |      test          lowest dose
        -----------   -----------------   |   -----------   -----------------
        mmo-sat          100 umol/L       |   mmo-omi          250 ppm
        mmo-esc          100 ppm/3H       |   mmo-omi            1 pph/15M
        mmo-srm            5 gm/L         |   sln-dmg-unr       10 pph/3H-C
        dnr-esc         1950 ug/L         |   oms-rat:oth      100 umol/L
        dnd-esc            5 ppm          |   sln-dmg-orl      250 ppm
        mmo-omi            1 pph/5M-C     |   sln-dmg-par     2000 ppm
        mmo-omi           10 ppm          |   dlt-dmg-orl     1300 ppm
        mmo-omi          200 ppm          |   mmo-nsc           10 mmol/plate
        mmo-omi         1000 ppm          |   mrc-smc           24 mmol/L
        sln-asn           20 mg/L         |   slt-nml-unr      700 ppm
        oms-nml:oth       40 mmol/L       |   oms-nml:oth       25 mmol/L
        cyt-nml:oth       40 mmol/L       |   cyt-grh:oth      750 umol/L
        dnd-hmn:fbr      100 umol/L       |   dnd-hmn:lng      100 umol/L
        dnd-hmn:oth      100 umol/L       |   dns-hmn:hla       10 nmol/L
        oms-hmn:lym       10 mg/L         |   dnd-rat-ihl       35 ug/m3/8W-I
        cyt-hmn:lym       10 mg/L         |   cyt-hmn:fbr        2 mmol/L
        sce-hmn:lym      125 umol/L       |   msc-hmn:lym      130 umol/L
        dnd-rat-orl       10 umol/kg      |   mmo-omi          200 umol/L
        cyt-rat-ihl       15 ppm/5D-I     |   otr-mus:emb        1 mg/L
        dnd-mus:leu      125 umol/L       |   cyt-mus-orl      100 mg/kg
        cyt-mus-ipr       15 mg/kg        |   otr-ham:kdy        4 mg/L
        pic-ham:emb        3 uL/L         |   cyt-ham:lng       18 mg/L
        cyt-ham:ovr      200 ug/L         |   sce-ham:ovr      110 ug/L
        dnd-ckn:leu      500 ppm          |   dnd-mam:lym      500 ppm
        dnd-mam:lym      660 mmol/L       |   mma-sat          100 umol/L
        dnd-rat:oth      500 umol/L       |   dni-esc            5 mmol/L
        dni-hmn:oth      210 umol/L       |   dni-rat:oth      100 umol/L
        oms-hmn:oth      210 umol/L       |   dns-rat:oth       50 umol/L
        msc-mus:lym       74 mg/L         |   mma-mus:lym       25 mg/L
        sln-dmg:ihl        7 pph/24H      |   sce-ham:lng       67 umol/L
        spm-rat-orl      200 mg/kg        |   otr-nml:oth       25 mmol/L
        otr-nml:oth       25 mmol/L       |   spm-dom-itt       23 mg/kg
            typ. dose    mode     specie      amount     units     other
              LDLo       orl       wmn          108      mg/kg
              TCLo       ihl       hmn           17      mg/m3/30M
              TCLo       ihl       man          300      ug/m3
              LDLo       unr       man          477      mg/kg
              LD50       orl       rat          800      mg/kg
              LC50       ihl       rat          590      mg/m3
              LC50       ihl       mam           92      mg/m3
              LD50       scu       rat          420      mg/kg
              LD50       ivn       rat           87      mg/kg
              LDLo       ipr       mus           16      mg/kg
              LD50       scu       mus          300      mg/kg
              LD50       orl       mus           42      mg/kg
              LDLo       scu       dog          595      mg/kg
              LCLo       ihl       cat          400      mg/m3/2H
              LD50       skn       rbt          270      mg/kg
              LDLo       scu       rbt          240      mg/kg
              LD50       orl       gpg          260      mg/kg
              LC50       ihl       mus          400      mg/m3/2H
              LDLo       ivn       cat           30      mg/kg
              LDLo       ivn       rbt           48      mg/kg
      Skin and Eye Irritation Data:
        skn-hmn   150 ug/3D-I MLD
        eye-hmn     4 ppm/5M
        eye-hmn     1 ppm/6M nse MLD
        skn-rbt   540 mg open MLD
        skn-rbt    50 mg/24H MOD
        eye-rbt   750 ug SEV
        skn-rbt     2 mg/24H SEV
        eye-rbt   750 ug/24H SEV
        eye-rbt    10 mg SEV
      Review: Toxicology Review-3
      Standards and Regulations: DOT-Hazard: ORM-A; Label: None
                                 DOT-Hazard: Combustible liquid; Label: None
                                 DOT-IMO: Flammable or Combustible liquid;
                                                 Label: Flammable liquid
      Status: NIOSH Analytical Methods: see Formaldehyde (oxazolidine), 2502;
               (chromotropic acid), 3500
              NIOSH Analytical Methods: see Formaldehyde (Girard T), 3501
              NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin 34, April 1981
              EPA TSCA Test Submission (TSCATS) Data Base, June 1988
              EPA TSCA Chemical Inventory, 1986
              EPA Genetox Program 1988, Positive: D melanogaster-reciprocal
              EPA Genetox Program 1988, Positive: N crassa-reversion; E coli polA
                      without S9
              EPA Genetox Program 1988, Positive: D melanogaster Sex-linked lethal
              EPA Genetox Program 1988, Positive: S cerevisiae gene conversion;
                      S cerevisiae-reversion
              EPA Genetox Program 1988, Inconclusive: In vitro UDS-human fibroblast
              EPA TSCA Section 8(e) Status Report 8EHQ-1079-0314
              Meets criteria for proposed OSHA Medical Records Rule
              EPA Genetox Program 1988, Positive: Carcinogenicity-mouse/rat
              EPA Genetox Program 1988, Inconclusive: CHO gene mutation
      Fatal dose is 60-90 mL [301]
      THR: Human poison by ingestion.  Experimental poison by ingestion, skin
           contact, inhalation, intravenous, intraperitoneal and subcutaneous
           routes.  A suspected human carcinogen.  An experimental carcinogen,
           tumorigen and teratogen.  Human systemic effects by inhalation.
           Experimental reproductive effects.  Human mutagenic data.  A human skin
           and eye irritant.  A severe experimental eye and skin irritant.  An air
           concentration of 20 ppm is quickly irritating to eyes.  A common air
           contaminant.  The gas is a more dangerous fire hazard than the vapor.

    Numbers in brackets [ ] are reference numbers in the source of this information.

    Source: Instant Tox-Base, Copyright 1994 by Instant Reference Sources, Inc. and Digital Liaisons, Austin, Texas

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    EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)

    EPA's IRIS is the world's most comprehensive toxicology database. Chemical entries often range from 20 to 50 pages of information. The information below represents a small selection of the data involving carcinogenicity in Section II of IRIS. Many of the technical terms are hyperlinked with explanations in Instant EPA's IRIS from which the following exerpts were taken but space limitations preclude that convenience here.



    Classification -- B1; probable human carcinogen, based on limited evidence in humans, and sufficient evidence in animals. Human data include nine studies that show statistically significant associations between site-specific respiratory neoplasms and exposure to formaldehyde or formaldehyde-containing products. An increased incidence of nasal squamous cell carcinomas was observed in long-term inhalation studies in rats and in mice. The classification is supported by in vitro genotoxicity data and formaldehyde's structural relationships to other carcinogenic aldehydes such as acetaldehyde.


    Limited. At least 28 relevant epidemiologic studies have been conducted. Among these, two cohort studies (Blair et al., 1986, 1987; Stayner et al., 1988) and one case-control study (Vaughan et al., 1986a,b) were well-conducted and specifically designed to detect small to moderate increases in formaldehyde-associated human risks. Blair et al. studied workers at 10 plants who were in some way exposed to formaldehyde (largely through resin formation) and observed significant excesses in lung and nasopharyngeal cancer deaths. Despite a lack of significant trends with increasing concentration or cumulative formaldehyde exposure, lung cancer mortality was significantly elevated in analyses with or without a 20-year latency allowance. No explicit control was made for smoking status. Stayner et al. reported statistically significant excesses in mortality from buccal cavity tumors among formaldehyde-exposed garment workers. The highest SMR was for workers with long employment duration (exposure) and follow-up period (latency). The Vaughan et al. nasal and pharyngeal cancer case-control study examined occupational and residential exposures, controlling for smoking and alcohol consumption. It showed a significant association between nasopharyngeal cancer and having lived 10 or more years in a mobile home, especially for mobile homes built in the 1950s to 1970s, a period of increasing formaldehyderesin usage. No exposure measurements were available.

    The 25 other reviewed studies had limited ability to detect small to moderate increases in formaldehyde risks owing to small sample sizes, small numbers of observed site-specific deaths, and insufficient follow-up. Even with these potential limitations, 6 of the 25 studies (Acheson et al., 1984; Hardell et al., 1982; Hayes et al., 1986; Liebling et al., 1984; Olsen et al., 1984; Stayner et al., 1985) reported significant associations between excess site-specific respiratory (lung, buccal cavity, and pharyngeal) cancers and exposure to formaldehyde. Some of these studies looked at potential confounders (such as wood-dust exposure) in greater detail; they did not discern sinonasal cancer incidence excesses of the size predicted. Others (Liebling et al., 1984; Stayner et al., 1985) overlapped the Acheson et al. (1984), Hardell et al. (1982) and Hayes et al. (1986) studies; the improved design and nonoverlapping portions of the later studies (Blair et al., 1986; Stayner et al., 1988) reinforce the conclusions of the earlier studies. Analysis of the remaining 19 studies indicate that leukemia and neoplasms of the brain and colon may be associated with formaldehyde exposure. The biological support for such postulates, however, has not yet been demonstrated. Although the common exposure in all of these studies was formaldehyde, the epidemiologic evidence is categorized as "limited" primarily because of the possible exposures to other agents. Such exposures could have contributed to the findings of excess cancers.


    Sufficient. Consequences of inhalation exposure to formaldehyde have been studied in rats, mice, hamsters and monkeys. The principal evidence comes from positive studies in both sexes of two strains of rats (Kerns et al., 1983; Albert et al., 1982; Tobe et al., 1985) and males of one strain of mice (Kerns et al., 1983), all showing squamous cell carcinomas.

    For the CIIT, Kerns et al. (1983) exposed about 120 animals/sex/species (Fischer 344 rats and B6C3F1 mice) to 0, 2, 5.6 or 14.3 ppm, 6 hours/day, 5 days/week for 24 months. Five animals per group were sacrificed at 6 and 12 months and 20 per group were killed at 18 months. At 24 and 27 months the number sacrificed is unclear. The studies were terminated at 30 months. From the 12th month on, male and female rats in the highest dose group (14.3 ppm) showed significantly increased mortality compared with controls. In the 5.6- ppm group, male rats showed a significant increase in mortality from 17 months on. Female mice showed generally comparable survival across dose groups, as did male mice, but the male mice as a whole showed increased mortality because of housing problems. Squamous cell carcinomas were seen in the nasal cavities of 51/117 male rats and 52/115 female rats at 14.3 ppm (HDT) by experiment's end (as many as 35 carcinomas had been identified in males by month 18 based on EPA analysis notes and Kerns (Chart 8). At 5.6 ppm, 1/119 male rats and 1/116 female rats showed squamous cell carcinomas of the nasal cavity. No such tumors were seen at 0 or 2 ppm. Polypoid adenomas of the nasal mucosa were seen in rats at all doses (0 ppm: 1/118 M, 0/114 F; 2 ppm: 4/118 M, 4/118 F; 5.6 ppm: 6/119 M, 0/116 F; 14.3 ppm: 4/117 M, 1/115 F) in a significant dose-related trend, albeit one that falls off after a peak. Among the mice, squamous cell carcinomas were seen in two males at 14.3 ppm. No other lesions were noteworthy.

    Sellakumar et al. (1985) exposed male Sprague-Dawley rats, 100/group, 6 hours/day, 5 days/week for lifetime to 10 ppm HCl and to 14 ppm formaldehyde. This was a combined exposure HCl and formaldehyde were administered simultaneously, and each was administered separately. An equal number of rats received an air control. HCl was administered to determine if tumor response was enhanced by an additional irritant effect or by the combining of formaldehyde and HCl to form bis-(chloromethyl)ether (BCME). Groups receiving formaldehyde alone or with HCl showed an increase in nasal squamous cell carcinomas; those without formaldehyde were free of carcinomas and other tumors (0/99 in each group), although rhinitis and hyperplasia were of comparable incidence.

    Tobe et al. (1985) conducted a 28-month study of male Fischer 344 rats (about 2 weeks younger than those in Kerns et al., 1983). Groups of 32 rats were exposed 6 hours/day, 5 days/week to 0, 0.3, 2.0, 3,3, or 15 ppm formaldehyde in aqueous solution methanol; another group of 32 was exposed to methanol only (vehicle control). Animals were sacrificed at 12, 18, and 24 months. Exposure to 15 ppm ended at 24 months; at that point, mortality was 88%. At 28 months mortality was 60% in the control group and 32% in the 0.3 dose group. Squamous cell carcinomas were seen at 15 ppm in 14/27 rats surviving past 12 months, compared with 0/27 in the controls. No polypoid adenomas were observed; the increased incidences of rhinitis and hyperplasia were dose-related.

    While these three rodent studies are principal in the weight of evidence, inhalation studies have been carried out in other strains and species. Dalbey (1982), as part of a promotion experiment, exposed male Syrian golden hamsters to 10 ppm formaldehyde 5 times/week, 5 hours/day throughout their lifetimes, 132 animals were untreated controls. Although survival time was significantly reduced in the treated group, no tumors were observed in either treated or control groups. Rusch et al. (1983) carried out a 6-month toxicity study in 6 male cynomolgus monkeys, 40 F344 rats (20M, 20F), and 20 Syrian golden hamsters (10M, 10F) with 22 hours/day, 7 days/week exposure to three levels of formaldehyde with corresponding controls. The highest dose tested was 2.95 ppm. The short duration of the assay, the small sample sizes, and, possibly, the low concentrations tested, limited the sensitivity of the assay to detect tumors. In the highest dose group in both rats and monkeys, incidences of squamous metaplasia/hyperplasia of the nasal turbinates were significantly elevated.


    Mutagenic activity of formaldehyde has been demonstrated in viruses, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Salmonella typhimurium and certain strains of yeast, fungi, Drosophila, grasshopper and mammalian cells (Ulsamer et al., 1984). Formaldehyde has been shown to cause gene mutations, single strand breaks in DNA, DNA-protein crosslinks, sister chromatid exchanges and chromosomal aberrations. Formaldehyde produces in vitro transformation in BALB/c 3T3 mouse cells, BHK21 hamster cells and C3H-10Tl/2 mouse cells, enhances the transformation of Syrian hamster embryo cells by SA7 adenovirus, and inhibits DNA repair (Consensus Workshop on Formaldehyde, 1984).

    When inhaled, acetaldehyde, the closest aldehyde to formaldehyde in structure, causes cancers in the nose and trachea of hamsters, and nasal cancers in rats.

    Source: Instant EPA's IRIS, Copyright 1996 by Instant Reference Sources, Inc. and Digital Liaisons, Austin, Texas

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    Chemical Protective Clothing (CPC) Data

    The table below was scanned from Instant Gloves + CPC Database. It contains information on the breakthrough times and permeation rates for formaldehyde tested against many manufacturer's models of CPC. If you are not familiar with the chemical permeation test procedures and the interpretation of breakthrough time and permeation rate data then you will find the Permeation Index Number to be useful in helping you make selections.

    The Permeation Index Number Appears in the fourth column from the left in the table of data below. It's interpretation with the data in the table is:

    Index Number .... Level of Permeation Rate

    0 .... None or Very Low - - this is the Best Selection.
    1 .... Very Low - - this is the Next Best Selection.
    2 .... Low - - Sometimes Satisfactory but change garment when exposed.
    3 .... Moderate Poor Choice - - Change the garment quickly when exposed.
    4 .... High - - Very Poor Choice; Splashes Only, Change Quickly When Exposed.
    5 .... Very High - - Dangerous Choice

    Additional Information on Permeation Index Numbers

    Scan of CPC Data for Formaldehyde

    Numbers in the last column are reference numbers in the source of this information.

    Source: Instant Gloves + CPC Database, Copyright 1996 by Instant Reference Sources, Inc. and Digital Liaisons, Austin, Texas

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    How to Analyze for formaldehyde in the Environment

    There are several methods for analyzing formaldehyde in the environment. Three of what I consider to be the best ones are summarized below.

    EPA METHOD TO-11 - Formaldehyde In Ambient Air By HPLC/UV Of Its DNPH

    Determination of Formaldehyde in Ambient Air Using Adsorbent Cartridge Followed by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)


    Compendium of Methods for the Determination of Toxic Organic Compounds in Ambient Air. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA-600/4-89-017 (Supplements: 600/4-87-006, 600/4-87-013).


    Method TO-11 is used to determine formaldehyde in ambient air. Other aldehydes and ketones can be detected with a modification of the basic procedure.


    Air is drawn through a midget impinger sampling train (without impinger) containing a silica gel cartridge coated with acidified dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH). The cartridge is eluted with acetonitrile in the laboratory to form a formaldehyde-DPNH derivative. The concentration of formaldehyde is determined with isocratic reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with ultraviolet absorption detection.


    Isomeric aldehydes and ketones, and other compounds with the same HPLC retention times as formaldehyde may interfere with this method.

    EPA METHOD TO-5 - Aldehydes & Ketones In Ambient Air By HPLC/UV Of DNPHs

    Determination of Aldehydes and Ketones in Ambient Air Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)


    Compendium of Methods for the Determination of Toxic Organic Compounds in Ambient Air. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA-600/4-89-017 (Supplements: 600/4-87-006, 600/4-87-013).


    Method TO-5 is used to analyze individual aldehydes and ketones in ambient air.


    Air is drawn through a midget impinger containing dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH) reagent and isooctane where the target compounds are derivatized. The organic fraction is evaporated to dryness and dissolved in methanol. The derivatives are determined using reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography HPLC with an ultra-violet detector.


    Isomeric aldehydes or ketones may be unresolved by the HPLC system.

    EPA METHOD 8315 - Formaldehyde, Aldehydes & Ketones By HPLC Of DNPHs

    DRAFT METHOD Determination of Formaldehyde by DNPH Derivatization, Solid Sorbent Extraction, and HPLC Detection


    Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, Third Edition. Report No. SW-846. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. Washington, DC: 1986.


    EPA Draft Method 8315 uses high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to determinate formaldehyde in liquid environmental matrices and leachates of solid samples applicable to the determination of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Extension of the methodology to HPLC determination of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in gaseous emission samples is feasible, and the methodology can also be applied to other aldehydes and ketones. When this method is used to analyze unfamiliar sample matrices, compound identification should be supported by at least one additional qualitative technique such as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.

    Actual detection limits are compound- and matrix-dependent. However, for a list of aldehydes and ketones tested, detection limits were approximately 2 ppbv when reagent capacity (for sampling by EPA Draft Method 0011) was 60-100 ppm.


    In Draft Method 0011, the 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH) derivative of aldehydes in the emission stream is formed during sampling, since the emissions are bubbled through impingers containing an aqueous acidic solution of DNPH. This solution is returned to the laboratory and extracted with methylene chloride. The methylene chloride extract is concentrated to less than 10 mL using the Kuderna-Danish procedure. Liquid chromatographic conditions described in Draft Method 8315 which permit the separation and measurement of formaldehyde (and other aldehydes and ketones) in the extract by absorbance detection at 360 nm.


    Analysis for formaldehyde is especially complicated by its ubiquitous occurrence in the environment. The volatile aldehydes, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, may be contaminants in volatile organic solvents. Since formaldehyde is widely used in building insulation, great care is required to determine whether the laboratory atmosphere is contaminated with formaldehyde. Blanks and controls that are treated under the same laboratory conditions as samples are of crucial importance in assessing background levels of aldehydes. Solvent blanks for each lot of solvents used in sample preparation are important. Glassware must not be rinsed with acetone in the cleaning process.

    Matrix interferences will result from contaminants that are coextracted from the sample, and will vary from source to source. Since the analytical methodology is HPLC, quantitative analysis of compounds of interest depends on the absence of coeluting interferences.

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