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Formaldehyde in Outdoor Air

Summary Indicator Report Data View Options

Formaldehyde in Outdoor Air by County, New Jersey, 2019

Why Is This Important?

Formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas, is a chemical used widely to make building materials and numerous household products. It is formed in tobacco smoke, wood smoke and automobile exhaust. In outdoor air, formaldehyde is produced in the atmosphere through chemical reactions between other pollutants and sunlight. Exposure to elevated levels of formaldehyde in air can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, difficulty in breathing, and asthma attacks. Formaldehyde is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as carcinogenic to humans. Exposure may increase the risk of nasal cancers.


Mean of modeled annual average formaldehyde concentration for census tracts in a county

Data Sources

How the Measure is Calculated

Numerator:Modeled mean formaldehyde concentration in micrograms per cubic meter

How Are We Doing?

All New Jersey counties exceed the health benchmark of 0.077 micrograms of formaldehyde per cubic meter of air. The highest ambient air concentration can be found in the northeast counties. Formaldehyde air concentrations throughout the state are also influenced by out-of-state emissions from both stationary and mobile sources.

What Is Being Done?

In the outdoor environment, formaldehyde is a byproduct of combustion and subject to the general controls on automobile and stationary sources. Industrial facilities that emit this chemical must obtain permits from the NJDEP Air Program and are also subject to state and federal air pollution control technology requirements. Indoor exposures have been reduced significantly as the result of the elimination of urea formaldehyde foam as an insulating material. However, formaldehyde continues to be used in other products such as pressed wood furniture.

Available Services

To view select air quality data collected at outdoor monitors across the United States go to: [] New Jersey County Risk Ratio tables can be found at the following URL: []

More Resources

The USEPA Integrated Risk Information System provides more detailed information about formaldehyde and research studies on its health effects. [] New Jersey Statewide Average 2005 NATA Modeled Air Concentrations and comparisons to health benchmarks can be found at: [] Pollution Prevention and Community Right to Know: [] NJDEP "What's in My Community?" mapping application: [] On the map you will find every facility with an air permit registered with the Division of Air Quality at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Indicator Data Last Updated On 05/10/2023, Published on 02/07/2024
Environmental Public Health Tracking Project, New Jersey Department of Health, PO Box 369, Trenton, NJ 08625-0369, e-mail: (