Formaldehyde Poisoning is a disorder brought about by breathing the fumes of formaldehyde. This can occur while working directly with formaldehyde, or using equipment cleaned with formaldehyde. Major symptoms may include eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; and/or skin rashes.
Symptoms of Formaldehyde Poisoning are varied. There may be eye irritation, breathing problems, skin irritations and headaches. If formaldehyde is swallowed it causes burns to the esophagus and stomach. Poisoning of patients using dialysis machines cleaned with formaldehyde can cause loss of red blood cells (acute hemolysis). In extreme cases Formaldehyde Poisoning may include low blood pressure (hypotension), abnormalities of heart rhythm, irregular breathing, restlessness, unconsciousness and coma.
Formaldehyde Poisoning may be caused in a variety of ways. Some people are affected when they work with products made with formaldehyde such as chip board and foam insulation. Persons may be poisoned by accidentally ingesting or swallowing formaldehyde. Breathing the vapors given off by the chemical itself in plants that manufacture it, or by working in areas where formaldehyde is used to produce other products can also cause dangerous physical reactions to the chemical. Poisoning may also occur when the chemical is being administered directly to a patient as formalin soaked packs for cysts. A form of formaldehyde (Formalin) is sometimes used as a cleaning agent for dialysis machines and other hospital equipment, and it must be carefully and completely removed before the equipment can be used on patients in order to avoid Formaldehyde Poisoning.
Formaldehyde Poisoning affects males and females in equal numbers. People exposed in the workplace are most likely to be affected if they are not protected by appropriate air filtering equipment.
Strict control and protective measures must be employed in the workplace to minimize formaldehyde exposure to the lowest possible limits. Employees should follow all workplace and safety guidelines and take any additional, appropriate steps to reduce their exposure. For example, workers who are exposed to formaldehyde must use personal protective equipment as required, such as appropriate face and eye protection, protective aprons and gloves, etc.
For affected individuals, there is no specific medication that may oppose the action of the formaldehyde (antidote). The treatment of individuals affected by Formaldehyde Poisoning consists of appropriate symptomatic and supportive measures. Those who have experienced severe formaldehyde exposure must undergo close medical monitoring as required. With prompt, appropriate treatment, most affected individuals experience a full recovery.
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