Formaldehyde is a Volatile Organic Compound that occurs in nature and is widely used in building products, finishes, and furnishings because of its desirable properties and low cost. Nearly all products made with formaldehyde outgas to some extent, but only a few contribute significantly to indoor air problems. Formaldehyde is used to add permanent press qualities to clothing and drapes, as a preservative in many paints and coatings, and as the adhesive resin in some carpeting, fiberglass insulations, and pressed wood products. It is also a product of combustion found in tobacco smoke and the fumes from gas stoves and other unvented combustion.
The EPA states that Formaldehyde is unsafe if its air content exceeds 0.83 PPM (Parts Per Million).
The best way to limit exposure is to avoid the use of bare pressed wood products made with urea-formaldehyde resins. Controlling heat and humidity is also important, since hot, humid conditions significantly raise the level of formaldehyde emissions. Sensitive individuals should also launder permanent-press draperies before using and should avoid newly painted rooms for several days. New furnishings or surfaces with formaldehyde-based materials should be allowed to air out for several days to weeks in a ventilated space.
For more information from the EPA on Formaldehyde visit: http://www.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/formalde.html