Space Poison Helped Start Life on Earth?
Formaldehyde on asteroids may have delivered planet's carbon.
Formaldehyde (CH2O) is a colorless gas that's often dissolved in water to make a liquid called formalin, used in various industrial products such as building materials, disinfectants, and embalming fluid. (Related: "Lost 'Sleeping Beauty' Mummy Formula Found.")
The molecule doesn't exist for long in its natural state on Earth without human intervention. That's fortunate for us, because formaldehyde easily reacts with other chemicals.
"Formaldehyde is poisonous because it interferes with so many metabolic reactions" and can block critical protein functions in the body, said study co-author George Cody, a chemist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to formaldehyde can cause