The day to day of grocery is a lot like the day to day in general: uneventful. Occasionally you’ll hear an over-sized metal pot echo across the store as it kisses the ground, coating it in gloppy layers of “Stampede Chilli” lipstick. Perhaps a poorly packed pallet will pour over, sending cheap imported shit scuttling in all directions like ants. But generally it’s a smooth day, and it should be; how much can go wrong when 95% of your job is moving stuff from the back of the building to its assigned shelf?

A lot, if you happen to be a wine steward bringing out bottles from a small cellar, you could get Formaldehyde poisoning. I never think about shit like that. If I smell something nasty, I don’t assume it’s slowly killing me, so I wanted to put the good word out. People think the only ones who should worry about Formaldehyde are morticians and necrophiliacs, but the chemical also leaks into the air via pallets, plywood, resins, and lots of other things.

If you work in the same areas all day with little or no airflow, and you start to get red itchy eyes, scratchy throat, cough, headaches, sores, you need to report this to your manager, union rep, or OSHA immediately. Formaldehyde is toxic, even at very low levels, and can cause cancer, respiratory, and general health issues. If you have if you think you’re suffering symptoms make sure the air gets tested, and that the incident is documented.


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