Exposure to formaldehyde is linked to cognitive problems

Exposure to formaldehyde in the workplace is linked to cognitive problems in later life, according to a new study. 

Formaldehyde is a strong-smelling gas used in the manufacturing of wood, chemical problems, and plastics. A variety of jobs expose people to formaldehyde, including nurses, caregivers, workers in the textile industry, carpenters, and cleaners. 

In order to understand the impact that exposure to formaldehyde has on health, the researchers looked at 74,322 people in France, of which, 8% were exposed to formaldehyde in their working life. 

Lifetime exposure was calculated by estimating a person’s exposure to potential hazards and cognitive function was measured using seven common tests of word recall, memory, attention, reasoning, and other thinking skills, to assess each domain and to come up with a global cognitive score.

After adjusting for age, sex, education, and other factors, the researchers found that people who were exposed to formaldehyde on the job had, on average, a 17% higher risk of having thinking and memory problems compared to those who were not exposed. This was true in every type of cognitive function the researchers tested.

man wearing black hoodie using welding tool

For example, one of the cognitive tests is to match symbols to numbers according to a key located on the top of the page. In this study, the maximum possible score was 135. The group not exposed to formaldehyde had an average score of 66, compared to an average score of 63 in the group that was exposed to formaldehyde.

Workers who were exposed to formaldehyde for 22 years or longer had a 21% higher risk of global cognitive impairment compared to those who were never exposed. 

We know that exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to certain cancers, and our results suggest that exposure to low amounts of formaldehyde also may be associated with a lower level of cognitive functioning,’ said study author Noemie Letellier, Ph.D., of the University of Montpellier in France.

‘People whose work exposes them to formaldehyde may want to take precautions, and companies may want to look at ways to reduce workers’ exposure to the hazardous chemical.

‘The use of formaldehyde has decreased over the last few decades; however, our results highlight the fact that there are still thousands of people whose work exposes them to the chemical, and they may face the risk of cognitive impairment later because of it.’




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2 years ago

Can you kindly provide the scientifc journal reference? Thank you.

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