Formaldehyde Exposure in China
As the most populous developing country in the world, China has experienced rapid economic growth over the last 20 years, and with it, a simultaneous rise in the demand for formaldehyde. As the number one global producer, the Chinese formaldehyde industry continues to grow in order to meet the demands of economic expansion, thus causing an increase in formaldehyde pollution indoors, outdoors, occupationally, and even in food. Although China has a number of national standards, numerous exposure studies suggest actual exposures are higher than occupational exposure limits, indicating a critical need for enforcement. Hence, the adverse health impacts of formaldehyde exposure have become a cause for escalating concern in Chinese society. As a consequence of the wide use of formaldehyde throughout the world, exposure studies in China have broad implications internationally. This chapter reviews formaldehyde production, consumption, and exposure, in China, and estimates daily personal exposure. Furthermore, this chapter demonstrates the need for better regulation of formaldehyde levels in this rapidly developing nation, as well as in other countries similarly experiencing rapid production and utility of formaldehyde.