Formaldehyde exposure at work: What to know
Written & Edited By: Cecily Johnson, Legal Assistant & Public Relations Assistant Manager
Formaldehyde is a chemical preservative that’s used in a lot of different products and jobs, and exposure to the chemical is generally not considered harmful – in minute doses, as long as it doesn’t get into someone’s eyes or mouth.
However, a lot of California workers are exposed to this chemical on a daily basis, and the fumes that get into their lungs or the formaldehyde residue that gets on their skin can cause long-term problems.
That’s why OSHA sharply regulates how much formaldehyde exposure workers are supposed to have to endure – but regulations don’t always translate into actual protection.
Which workers are most affected by formaldehyde exposure?
Formaldehyde is used in so many different products, from glues and building materials to dyes and automobile parts, that almost anybody could be exposed, but workers in some industries have enhanced risks. These include:
- Morticians and other funeral industry workers, due to the embalming process
- Beauticians, since the chemical is common in hair dyes
- Agricultural employees, where the chemical is used in fertilizers and other products
- Industrial and manufacturing employees who make plastic items, insulation or resin-based objects
- Construction workers, who may encounter it both during building processes and demolitions
Formaldehyde exposure can cause an immediate immunological response in some people, and it can seriously injure someone if they get it in their mouth, eyes or nose. Skin contact over both short and long periods can cause painful dermatological reactions while inhaling formaldehyde fumes can lead to respiratory conditions and breathing problems. Long-term exposure has also been linked to some cancers.
Are You Suffering From Work-Related Formaldehyde Exposure?
If you are dangerously exposed while on the job, it could lead to serious illness and injury, even if you get out and get medical help. Be sure you know what rights you have to workers’ comp after such an event, especially if your medical bills are high and you can’t return to work right away. Talking to an experience attorney can help you understand your options.