|Chemical Abstract Number (CAS #)||
||EPA Method 554||EPA Method 8315
Link to the National Library of Medicine's Hazardous Substances
Database for more details
on this compound.
|Use|| DISINFECTING DWELLINGS, SHIPS, STORAGE HOUSES, UTENSILS, CLOTHES;
GERMICIDE & FUNGICIDE FOR PLANTS & VEGETABLES; DESTROYING FLIES &
OTHER INSECTS; MFR PHENOLIC RESINS, ARTIFICIAL SILK & CELLULOSE ESTERS,
DYES, ORG CHEM, GLASS MIRRORS, EXPLOSIVES; IMPROVING FASTNESS OF
DYES ON FABRICS; MORDANTING & WATERPROOFING FABRICS; PRESERVING &
COATING RUBBER LATEX; IN PHOTOGRAPHY FOR HARDENING GELATIN
PLATES & PAPERS; TONING GELATIN-CHLORIDE PAPERS; CHROME PRINTING &
DEVELOPING; TO RENDER CASEIN, ALBUMIN & GELATIN INSOL; IN CHEM
ANALYSIS; TO PREVENT MILDEW & SPELT IN WHEAT & ROT IN OATS; FUMIGANT
FIXATION OF HISTOLOGICAL SPECIMENS & IN ALTERATION OF BACTERIAL
TOXINS TO TOXOIDS FOR VACCINES. SOLN, USP
AS GERMICIDE MAINLY USED IN 2-8% CONCN TO DISINFECT INANIMATE
Other important uses include wood-industry products, molding cmpd, foundry resins, adhesives
for insulation, slow-release fertilizers, the manufacture of permanent-press finishes of
cellulose fabrics, and formaldehyde-based textile finishes.
In manufacturing fatty amides and in precious metal recovery.
CHEM INT FOR PHENOLIC, POLYACETAL & MELAMINE RESINS
CHEM INT FOR ACETYLENIC CHEMS-ESP, 1,4-BUTANEDIOL
CHEM INT FOR POLYOLS-EG, PENTAERYTHRITOL
CHEM INT FOR HEXAMETHYLENETETRAMINE
CHEM INT FOR METHYLENE DIANILINE (PRECURSOR OF METHYLENE DIANILINE)
CHEM INT FOR PYRIDINE CHEMS & NITROPARAFFIN DERIVS
COMPONENT OF DYES & DRILLING MUDS AS STARCH PRESERVATIVE
CHEM INT FOR RESORCINOL-FORMALDEHYDE RESINS
CHEM INT FOR ANILINE-FORMALDEHYDE RESINS
CHEM INT FOR RUBBER-PROCESSING CHEMS
SEWAGE TREATMENT AGENT
CHEM INT FOR SYNTHETIC TANNING AGENTS
COMPONENT OF TRIOXANE FUEL TABLETS
CHEM INT FOR HERBICIDES & FERTILIZER COATINGS
CHEM INT FOR PHARMACEUTICALS & ELASTOMERIC SEALANTS
Chemical intermediate for explosives and bactericides.
Soil sterilant in mushroom houses before planting.
|Consumption Patterns|| The largest use of formaldehyde is in the manufacture of amino and phenolic resins,
accounting for about 55% of the total demand. Wood products account for about 36% of the
total formaldehyde demand, with particle board (chips and sawdust with resin binder) first, and
plywood second. Approx 80% of the slow-release fertilizer market is based on
urea-formaldehyde-containing products. The manufacture of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid
consumes about 75% of the formaldehyde used in the synthesis of chelating agents. The other
25% is used to produce nitrilo acetic acid, primarily for export.
Amino resins including urea & melamine, 7.50X10 5 tons. Amino resins molding 5.9X10 4 tons;
phenolic resins 6.50X10 5 tons & phenolic molding resins 6.6X10 4 tons; fertilizers 1.80X10 5
tons; textile finishes 6.0X10 4 tons; acetal resins 1.80X10 5 tons; 1.4-butanediol 2.00X10 5
tons; pentaerythritol 1.80X10 5 tons; pyridines 4.0X10 4 tons; methylenediphenyl isocyanate
6.5X10 4 tons; trimethylolpropane 3.5X10 4 tons; & hexamine 1.50X10 5 tons (as 37%
CHEM INT FOR UREA-FORMALDEHYDE RESINS, 26.5%; CHEM INT FOR PHENOLIC
RESINS, 19.6%; CHEM INT FOR ACETYLENIC CHEMS, 8.4%; CHEM INT FOR
POLYACETAL RESINS, 7.9%; CHEM INT FOR PENTAERYTHRITOL, 6.7%; CHEM INT
FOR HEXAMETHYLENETETRAMINE, 5.5%; CHEM INT FOR UREA-FORMALDEHYDE
CONCENTRATES, 5.2%; CHEM INT FOR METHYLENE DIANILINE, 3.9%; CHEM INT
FOR MELAMINE RESINS, 3.6%; CHEM INT FOR CHELATING AGENTS, 2.8%; OTHER,
Worldwide demand for formaldehyde in 1976 was estimated to be about 7.5X10 6 tons or 60%
During 1985 resins going in to adhesives and plastics amount to more than 60% of demand
most of the rest of formaldehyde demand is for use as a chemical intermediate.
Urea-formaldehyde resins, 27%; phenolic resins, 21%; 1,4-butanediol, 9%; polyacetal resins, 9%;
pentaerythritol, 7%; hexamine, 7%; urea-formaldehyde concentrates, 6%; melamine, 4%; MDI,
4%; other, including exports, 6% (1984).
CHEMICAL PROFILE: Formaldehyde. Urea formaldehyde resins, 27%; phenolic resins, 21%;
acetylenic chemicals, 11%; polyacetal resins, 8%; pentaerythritol, 7%; hexamine, 5.5%; ureal
formaldehyde concentrates, 5.5%; melamine resins, 3.8%; MDI, 4.7%; miscellaneous, 5%.
CHEMICAL PROFILE: Formaldehyde. Demand: 1985: 5.8 billion lb; 1986: 6 billion lb; 1990
/projected/: 6.63 billion lb.
CHEMICAL PROFILE: Formaldehyde. Urea-formaldehyde resins, 25%; phenolic resins, 22%;
polyacetal resins, 9%; pentaerythritol, 7%; hexamine, 6%; urea-formaldehyde concentrates, 6%;
MDI, 5%; melamine resins, 4%; miscellaneous, 5%.
CHEMICAL PROFILE: Formaldehyde. Demand: 6.73 billion lb; 1989: 6.5 billion lb; 1993
/projected/: 7.6 billion lb. (Includes exports but not imports, both of which are negligible. Last
year, exports totaled 19 million lb, and imports totaled 11 million lb.)
|Apparent Color|| Clear, water-white, very slightly acid, gas or liquid. ; Formaldehyde solution is a clear,
colorless or nearly colorless liquid
|Odor|| PUNGENT SUFFOCATING ODOR ; Irritating odor. Liquid
|Boiling Point|| -19.5 DEG C
|Melting Point|| -92 DEG C
|Molecular Weight|| 30.03
|Density|| 1.067 (AIR= 1)
|Odor Threshold Concentration|| 0.5 to 1.0 ppm
Detection: media= water: 4.99x10 1 ppm Chemically pure
Detection: media= water: 2.50x10 1 ppm Purity not specified
Recognition: media= air: 1.00 ppm Chemically pure
Odor low: 1.4700 mg/cu m; Odor high: 73.5000 mg/cu m
|Sensitivity Data|| Contact with the skin causes irritation, tanning effect, and allergic sensitization. Contact
with eyes causes irritation, itching, & lacrimation.
|Environmental Impact|| Formaldehyde is produced in large quantities (5.7 billion lb in 1983) primarily for use in
the manufacture of resins and as a chemical intermediate. Much of this use is captive and not
released into the environment. Most of the formaldehyde entering the environment is produced
directly or indirectly in combustion processes. The indirect production is derived from the
photochemical oxidation in the atmosphere by sunlight of hydrocarbons or other formaldehyde
precusors that have been released from combustion processes. This tremendous input of
formaldehyde is removed by direct photolysis and oxidation by photochemically produced
hydroxyl radicals (half-life a few hours). Additional quantities are removed by dry deposition, rain
or by dissolving in the ocean and other surface waters. In the aqueous compartment
biodegradation takes place in a few days. Human exposure to formaldehyde is from ambient air in
heavy traffic, particularly during photochemical smog episodes, occupational atmospheres where
resins are used or where formaldehyde is used as a fumigant, disinfectant, embalming fluid, etc.
Homes, particularly energy efficient ones, can have high levels of formaldehyde from stoves and
the emission of the gas from insulation, furniture, resin-coated rugs and other fabrics.
|Environmental Fate|| TERRESTRIAL FATE: When released on soil, aqueous solutions containing
formaldehyde will leach through the soil. While formaldehyde is biodegradable under both aerobic
and anaerobic conditions, its fate in soil is unknown.
AQUATIC FATE: When released into water, formaldehyde will biodegrade to low levels in a few
days. Little adsorption to sediment would be expected to occur. In nutrient-enriched seawater
there is a long lag period (approximately 40 hr) prior to measurable loss of added formaldehyde
by presumably biological processess . Its fate in groundwater is unknown.
ATMOSPHERIC FATE: Formaldehyde is released to the atmosphere in large amounts and
formed in the atmosphere by the photooxidation of hydrocarbons. This input is counterbalanced
by several important removal paths. It both photolyzes and reacts rapidly with reactive free
radicals, principally hydroxyl radicals, which are formed in the sunlight-irradiated atmosphere. The
half-life in the sunlit troposphere is a few hours. Reaction with nitrate radicals, insignificant during
the day, may be an important removal mechanism at night . The initial oxidation product, formic
acid, is a component of acid rain . Because of its high solubility there will be efficient transfer
into rain and surface water which may be an important sink . One model predicts dry deposition
and wet removal half-lives of 19 and 50 hr, respectively . Although formaldehyde is found in
remote areas, it is probably not transported there, but rather a result of the local generation of
formaldehyde from longer-lived precursers which have been transported there .
|Drinking Water Impact|| DRINKING WATER: Not detected in National Organics Reconnaissance Survey of
Suspected Carcinogens in Drinking Water(6). SURFACE WATER: 14 Heavily Industrialized
river basins in US - 1/204 sites pos, 12 ppb . Detected only in hypolimnion of stagnant lake in
Japan . SEAWATER: Not detected in surface waters . RAIN WATER: Mainz and
Deuselbach, Germany and Ireland 0.111-0.174 ppm ; Enewetek Atoll (Central Pacific) 6.2-11.3
ppb ; 5 sites in California - 1/6 samples pos, 0.06 ppm . ICE FOG: Fairbanks, AK - 0.50-1.16
ppm . MIST: 2 sites in California 0.25-0.56 ppm . FOG: 4 sites in California 0-2.3 ppm .
EFFL: Detected in 3 effluent streams, two from chemical plants and one from a sewage treatment
plant . Effluent from urea and melamine production contained 4% formaldehyde and from
phenolic resin production 0.1% formaldehyde . Effluent of plywood industry which uses phenol
and urea-formaldehyde resin glue contains formaldehyde .