Concentrations of formaldehyde in rain waters harvested at the Nigerian institute for oil palm research
Formaldehyde has been recognized as one of the most important pollutants and a carcinogen that is present in the air, water, foods, soils, fabrics, cosmetics, cigarette smoke and treated wood. Related health effects and hazards are linked to formaldehyde, depending on mode of exposure which includes: weakness, blindness, vomiting et cetera. Additionally, occupational exposure through vapours, results in a temporary reversible decrease in lung function. Ocular exposure to formaldehyde could result in permanent alterations to vision or blindness. At concentrations below maternal toxicity, formaldehyde is considered not to be a reproductive or developmental toxicant. Sufficient evidence is now available for the carcinogenicity of formaldehyde in both humans and animals. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classed formaldehyde as a group 1carcinogen. Rain water is harvested and used for domestic and industrial purposes in Nigeria. Scarce information is
available in the developing countries like Nigeria, relating to the sources of exposure to formaldehyde and other toxic substances. It was against the above background that samples of rain water were collected between April and October, 2008, 2009 and 2010 at the meteorological research unit of the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in order to monitor the concentrations of formaldehyde, which were subsequently consumed by ingestion and thus generate data on same for the populace of the area of study. The chromotropic acid method described by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) was adopted for the determination of formaldehyde in the rain waters. Results indicated that the concentration range of the formaldehyde in the rain waters varied from month to month throughout the six months duration of analysis. The values detected were below the toxicity level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other world bodies for drinking water. In conclusion, the results of the rain waters collected for the period of assay suggests that the values did not cause any toxicity effects and thus were fit for human consumption based on the low formaldehyde concentrations.
Key words: Formaldehyde, Rain Water, NIFOR, Toxicity