Formalin is an organic compound of aldehydes family with formula CH2O. This organic compound has different names : methanal, formaldehyde or formalin still referred to an aqueous solution. It is this form that it is the most used because it is easily soluble in water. At room temperature, formaldehyde is a flammable gas. In nature we find formaldehyde in cigarette smoke, forest fires, exhausts, but it is also produced by living organisms (including humans). The action of UV on the Earth's atmosphere also produces formaldehyde.
1. Use of Formalin :
Synthesized in the late 19th century, formalin is widely used in industry such as a disinfectant. Formalin is also used as a fixative and preservative of bodies and often used for the production of chemicals. Thus, Formalin is used as food preservative, as well as manufacture of household products and cosmetics. It is also used in the manufacture of medical and paramedical equipment, or embalming bodies awaiting burial. Combined with other chemicals, such as phenol or melamine, Formalin makes it possible to make explosives, synthetic foam or paint.
2. Dangers of Formalin :
Formalin is an organic compound which is classified as a carcinogen since 2004 for cancer of the nasopharynx by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. According to a number of studies, Formalin or formaldehyde is very dangerous for health. For example, the French Agency for Sanitary Safety of Environment and Labour (Afsset) estimates that an exposure beyond a certain threshold (0.25 mg/m3 8h) can cause serious physical troubles up to develop cancers. Thus, Formalin leads to a risk of eye irritation. A high exposure to formalin may cause severe irritation of the airways and repeated exposure to peaks can lead to risk of cancer.
3. Formalin substitute :
In the workplace, Formalin is often used as a disinfectant. Formalin is present during airborne disinfection (formalin generator) or contact cleaning. The substitution of Formalin is possible with:
• preparations of peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide.
• mixtures of detergents : quaternary ammonium compound, glutaraldehyde, sulfamic acid, alcohol.
Companies or cleaning societies will have to opt for equipment or machines which using disinfectant products based on peracetic acid and/or hydrogen peroxide which are, at low concentration, totally biodegradables et safe for human and its environment.