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Environ Health Perspect. 1991 Nov;95:101-4.

Formaldehyde exposure and health status in households.

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Gage Research Institute, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


This report describes a case study concerned with acute and subacute health effects of formaldehyde in the indoor air, which is based on a large group of control houses and houses retroinsulated 4 to 5 years earlier with urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI). Both groups underwent an environmental and health assessment on two occasions separated by an interval of 12 months, during which about one-half of the UFFI group performed remedial work on their houses. The results show that in the first survey of the study population, before remedial work, there was a moderate excess of many adverse health status indicators among the UFFI subset relative to the controls. This was associated with the presence of direct exposure-response relationships between formaldehyde levels in the UFFI houses and the prevalence of a number of symptoms. No comparable relationships were seen among the controls. At the second survey, performed following the removal of the UFFI, there was an appreciable reduction in the excess of most adverse health status indicators among the UFFI subjects. This improvement in health status among the UFFI removal subset was not associated with any significant diminution of formaldehyde exposures, although the previously observed exposure-response relationships had vanished. These observations imply that the findings obtained in the preremedial stage of the study cannot be explained by formaldehyde exposure alone.

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