Environmental Health & Safety

Formaldehyde Awareness and Training

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)

Federal Law dictates that employers must provide to their employees, information regarding hazardous materials and chemicals to which they may be exposed in the workplace. The purpose of this information is to help the worker to safely handle chemicals. The vehicle for this information is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

What is an MSDS?

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a fact sheet for a chemical product. It is designed to provide workers and emergency personnel with the proper procedures for handling or working with a potentially-hazardous substance. OSHA requires every manufacturer of products with any hazardous ingredients or properties, to make MSDSs available for those products.

The MSDS includes information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point, etc.), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures. MSDSs are especially valuable if a spill or other accident occurs, but understanding the hazardous properties of a material BEFORE you work with it, can prevent later mishaps.

Attached please find an MSDS for Formaldehyde. Feel free to review and retain this MSDS for your records.

How may I obtain an MSDS?

MSDSs come with the chemical products you order. You should save these in a binder in your laboratory for reference and training. If you need an MSDS in an emergency, call EH&S at X4150 or come to the EH&S Office on the 8th floor Forchheimer. MSDSs are also available 24 hours at our MSDS Centers located on the 4th floor and the Lobby of the Forchheimer Building and on the 3rd floor of the Kennedy Building.

Other means of acquiring an MSDS are: 

  • Ask your supervisor. Supervisors - For the chemical products regularly used by your employees, you should keep a list and a file of the MSDS for each item. Products to keep on file include such materials as: cleaning products, laboratory chemicals, adhesives, etc. If you need help in setting up a file, please contact EH&S.
  • Request an MSDS from the manufacturer of the product. Call or FAX their Customer Service Department.
  • Find them on the Internet at: http://www.hazard.com 

The following is an MSDS for Formaldehyde: 

MSDS For Formaldehyde (PDF Format) 


Health & Safety Hazards of Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is regulated by OSHA as a carcinogen and is listed in IARC Group 2A as a probable human carcinogen. Formaldehyde is moderately toxic by skin contact and inhalation.

Exposure to formaldehyde gas can cause irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, coughing, dry throat, tightening of the chest, headache, a sensation of pressure in the head, and palpitations of the heart. Exposure to 0.1 to 5 ppm causes irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Exposure to above 20 ppm can cause severe lacrimation, burning in the nose and throat, and breathing becomes difficult. Acute exposure to concentrations above 25 ppm can cause serious injury, including fatal pulmonary edema. Chronic exposure to formaldehyde can cause dermatitis and sensitization of the skin and respiratory tract. After contact with the skin, a symptom-free period may follow in sensitized individuals. Subsequent exposures can then lead to itching, redness, and the formation of blisters. Ingestion of formaldehyde can result in irritation of the mouth, throat and stomach, nausea, vomiting, convulsions and coma.

OSHA Fact Sheet: Occupational Expure to Formaldehyde (PDF Format) 

OSHA Standard 29CFR1910.1048, Formaldehyde (PDF Format) 

OSHA Standard 29CFR1910.1048 App. C, Medical Surveillance - Formaldehyde (PDF Format) 

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