What is Formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring substance in our atmosphere. It is emitted by animals and humans as a by-product of digestion, and it is created during combustion. It can be found in smoke from fires, smog, tobacco smoke and vehicular exhaust fumes. In more concentrated forms, formaldehyde is used in a number of industrial processes in a variety of industries, including the textile industry.

Why are there Standards for testing formaldehyde levels in textiles?

Exposure to unsafe levels of formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and skin. If inhaled, formaldehyde may cause headaches, and trigger or aggravate asthma symptoms.

The ISO Standards for testing formaldehyde provide internationally agreed methods of testing. Levels of formaldehyde in products can vary greatly, as can the ‘total’ amount versus the ‘free’ amount of formaldehyde.

Product safety is enormously important. Standards help ensure the safety, and reliability of many products and services.

What Standards are there for testing formaldehyde levels in textiles?

There are two internationally recognised (ISO) Standards that set out agreed methods for testing formaldehyde levels in textiles:

  1. ISO 14184-1:1998 Textiles -- Determination of formaldehyde -- Part 1: Free and hydrolized formaldehyde (water extraction method)
  2. ISO 14184-2:1998 Textiles -- Determination of formaldehyde -- Part 2: Released formaldehyde (vapour absorption method).

For more information on these Standards, call Standards New Zealand 0800 782 632.

Additional information on formaldehyde product safety is available from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs website.