Last update Feb. 1, 2017


High Risk

Poorly safe. Evaluate carefully. Use safer alternative or interrupt breastfeeding 3 to 7 T ½ (elimination half-lives). Read the Comment.

It is a highly volatile gas that is irritating to respiratory, ocular and cutaneous tissues. The olfactory threshold is so low that poisoning can easily be prevented.
Used for many industrial procedures (wood, cosmetics, paint, plastics, resins, chemistry, textiles, photography) and in the preservation of corpses and histological specimens. A largest source of exposure is the combustion process (ATSDR 1999 and 2008)
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen factor especially on the nasopharyngeal tract (NCI 2011, INSHT 2015, USDHHS 2016).

Although mild hormonal changes have been seen in women exposed to organic solvent mixtures with formaldehyde (Hassani 2014), few data is available in the scientific literature on the transfer of chemicals to breastmilk from working mothers (Giroux 1992, Fisher 1997).
Despite the growing concern about labor exposure of formaldehyde in lactating mothers (Grajewski 2016), data sheets consulted on formaldehyde (LabKem 2013) do not offer any statement on risk or warning advice in connection to breastfeeding (LabKem 2013) (Phrases R 33, R 64, H 362 and P 263).

It undergoes a rapid destruction in the plasma and tissues, so it is believed that formaldehyde whether inhaled or in contact with the skin would highly unlikely any transfer from the mother to the infant through the breastmilk (ATSDR 1999). However it may occur in work places with high levels of exposure such as pathology departments and forensic facilities (CDC-NIOSH 2015, Appendix A 2016).
Because of this, several agencies recommend as a prudent measure for breastfeeding women to be removed from duties that involve high exposure levels of formaldehyde (Appendix A 2016).

If the company does not agree with the exchange of the working site of a highly exposed lactating mother, they should ensure adequate working conditions of protection (CDC-NIOSH 2015: masks, gloves) and well ventilated facilities that must be able to keep VLA-EC ( TLV-STEL) below 0.3 ppm (0.37 mg / m 3) (USDHHS 2016).
Avoid to breastfeeding if the mother has been massively intoxicated by inhalation or ingestion.

The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risk posed by low levels of environmental contaminants contained in human milk, which are often lower than those contained in cow's milk or other foods (WHO).

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Formaldehyde is also known as

Formaldehyde in other languages or writings:


Formaldehyde belongs to this group or family:


Variable Value Unit
Molecular weight 30 daltons


  1. INSHT - Instituto Nacional de Seguridad e Higiene en el Trabajo. Límites de exposición profesional para agentes químicos en España. - 2022 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Formaldehyde. 14th Report on Carcinogens (RoC). 2016 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  3. Grajewski B, Rocheleau CM, Lawson CC, Johnson CY. "Will my work affect my pregnancy?" Resources for anticipating and answering patients' questions. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  4. CDC-NIOSH. Formaldehyde. Workplace Safety and Health Topic. 2015 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  5. INSHT. Modificación de la clasificación del Formaldehido (CAS: 50-00-0). Modificación del Reglamento (UE) nº 605/2014 2015 Full text (in our servers)
  6. Hassani S, Namvar M, Ghoreishvandi M, Attarchi M, Golabadi M, Seyedmehdi SM, Khodarahmian M. Menstrual disturbances and hormonal changes in women workers exposed to a mixture of organic solvents in a pharmaceutical company. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2014 Abstract
  7. LabKem. Formaldehído. Ficha técnica. 2013 Full text (in our servers)
  8. National Cancer Institute (NCI). Formaldehído y riesgo de cáncer. 2011 Full text (in our servers)
  9. National Cancer Institute (NCI). Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk 2011 Full text (in our servers)
  10. ATSDR. Formaldehyde. Public Health Statement. 2008 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  11. ATSDR. Formaldehído. Resumen de Salud Pública. 1999 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  12. Fisher J, Mahle D, Bankston L, Greene R, Gearhart J. Lactational transfer of volatile chemicals in breast milk. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1997 Abstract
  13. Giroux D, Lapointe G, Baril M. Toxicological index and the presence in the workplace of chemical hazards for workers who breast-feed infants. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1992 Abstract

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e-lactancia is a resource recommended by Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine - 2012 of United States of America

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