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Formaldehyde in Building Products

Many of the government-supplied trailers housing thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina contain potentially dangerous levels of the chemical formaldehyde.


Tens of thousands of people who lost homes in Katrina in 2005 and had been living for about two years in trailers bought by the government for temporary housing attributed health problems to formaldehyde exposure.



There are small amounts of formaldehyde in nearly all homes. Formaldehyde levels are higher in

  • Homes with smokers. Tobacco smoke contains formaldehyde. If someone in your home smokes tobacco products, the smoke may be the greatest source of formaldehyde in your home.

  • Homes with new products or new construction. Formaldehyde levels are higher in new manufactured wood products such as flooring and furniture. Formaldehyde can also be found in some fabrics.

New products that often contain high levels of formaldehyde include

  • Some manufactured wood products such as cabinets, furniture, plywood, particleboard, and laminate flooring

  • Permanent press fabrics (like those used for curtains and drapes or on furniture)

  • Household products such as glues, paints, caulks, pesticides, cosmetics, and detergents.



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