Formaldehyde Concentration Dynamics of the
International Space Station
Formaldehyde presents a significant challenge to maintaining cabin air quality on board crewed spacecraft. Generation sources include offgassing from a variety of non-metallic materials as well as human metabolism. Because generation sources are pervasive and human health can be affected by continual exposure to low concentrations, toxicology and air quality control engineering experts jointly identified formaldehyde as a key compound to be monitored as part the International Space Station’s (ISS) environmental health monitoring and maintenance program. Data acquired from in-flight air quality monitoring methods are the basis for assessing the cabin environment’s suitability for long-term habitation and monitoring the performance of passive and active controls that are in place to minimize crew exposure. Formaldehyde concentration trends and dynamics observed in the ISS cabin atmosphere are reviewed and implications to present and future flight operations are discussed.