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Formaldehyde

gas aldehyde

Formaldehyde (HCHO), colorless, acrid, toxic gas; the simplest and most reactive aldehyde. Formaldehyde was discovered by A.W. von Hofmann in 1867. It is made by catalytic air oxidation of methanol vapor or of natural gas. Formaldehyde gas is unstable, and is usually stored as an aqueous solution, formalin, used as a disinfectant and preservative for biological specimens. Formaldehyde is used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, dyes, and plastics. Formaldehyde gas causes severe symptoms of the respiratory tract, and may be a carcinogen.

See also: Aldehyde.

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