Formaldehyde exposure in the home not limited to floors

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There have been a lot of questions following the CDC's report that some laminate flooring could raise the risk for cancer.

The agency says people exposed to formaldehyde from some wood floors sold by Lumber Liquidators have triple the cancer risk as originally thought.

Formaldehyde is a chemical used in making many building materials, especially compressed wood.

But experts like Dr. Noreen Khan Mayberry say it can be other places in the home as well.

"Any room you have furniture," she says.

If the furniture is made of pressed wood, or has sealants, it's there, she say.

Dr. Khan Mayberry, nicknamed "The Tox DocDr. Khan Mayberry, nicknamed "The Tox Doc," says "It's absolutely everywhere - furniture products, flame retardants, carpet adhesive, the paints that we use - it is absolutely everywhere. and in the products that we use, including a lot of cosmetics."

Dr. Khan Mayberry says even that "new car smell" is largely due to formaldehyde.

New products release more gas than older ones.

But some products can "off gas" formaldehyde for years.

It used to be common in the wrinkle-resistant finishes in clothing, but it is being used less now, as more countries adopt stronger laws.

The Environmental Protection Agency has never established a limit for indoor formaldehyde levels.

But Dr. Khan Mayberry says any level is too much, because the effects of the gas are cumulative.

She says the amount in a home depends on how many "new" products there are, how well a house is ventilated, and how well the HVAC (heating and cooling) system is working.

Older homes may not be able to clear the gas as well, because their heating systems aren't as efficient.

To lower your overall exposure, Dr. Khan Mayberry suggests:

* Improve your home ventilation

* Keep up maintenance on your heating and cooling systems

* Add some house plants which clear formaldehyde. Those include spider plants, golden pothos, palms, and peace lilies.

* Consider an air cleaner, but make sure it can destroy formaldehyde.

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