A person accustomed to a real down-home atmosphere sometimes does not even ponder over it and over how such a setting affects his/her health. Few or none realize that things that do not shed odor nuisance and have attractive appearance can be dangerous. Nowadays, unfortunately, the market is filled with poor building materials: varnishes, paints, finishing agents and plastic coating, as well as furniture, which are made of the same materials. The results of living quarters’ analysis are often stunning even to the researchers. Saturated vapors of formaldehyde cause irritation of the eye mucous membrane and upper air passages, a bad cough, apnoea and impairment of consciousness (Blair et al., 1987). These vapors are emitted by wood particle boards and glue. Therefore, it is recommended to coat the walls and panels of particle boards with joint sealant made of natural resins such as shellac, for example.
Formaldehyde is widely used in cosmetics, perfumery and line production of various stable dyes. Not without reason is it said that formaldehyde is a building block. However, considering its extremely dangerous nature, it is a must to control the usage of this material in every area of contact with a person. For instance, Chinese farmers and grocers treat greens and fruits with formaldehyde in order to preserve foodstuffs, their attractive appearance and freshness as long as possible (Stewart et al., 1990). On the Chinese food counters, formaldehyde is used not only to process vegetables, but seafood as well. Those who sell such vegetables are fully confident that these actions have no harmful impact on the consumers’ health and advise their buyers just to wash vegetables thoroughly.
Exposure to hazardous substances emitted by formaldehyde leads to the worsening of respiratory apparatus, a feeling of dizziness, tiredness and nausea. Laboratory research testifies that formaldehyde causes cancer. Formaldehyde is emitted by wood particle boards that are used in floor decking constructions, wainscots, tables, cupboards and other furniture. Formaldehyde vapors can be also separated from bonding materials, carpets, some textile goods and disinfectants (Partanen et al., 1985). Some new products are especially dangerous. The best way to avoid exposure to formaldehyde is by purchasing formaldehyde-free furniture and placing potted plants in the house. They absorb formaldehyde and other carcinogenic air pollutants.
In conclusion, it should be mentioned that, in regard to the risks associated with formaldehyde, a variety of required and recommended standards are applied now. For people with occupational risks, the OHSA Guide (Occupational Health and Safety Act) allows the concentration of formaldehyde in the workplace up to the average level of 1 ppm for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and with urgent request of medical attention for those who have been exposed to concentrations higher than 0.5 ppm (Tyihak et al., 2001). Still, it remains valid that formaldehyde is widely used in production: in medicine and chemical and timber industries; without this substance a lot of small and medium businesses and joint ventures will be closed down with all the ensuing consequences. It happens that formaldehyde “feeds” hundreds of thousands of people.