Is CH2O Polar or Nonpolar?

Answer: CH2O is a polar molecule due to the presence of a very electronegative oxygen (3.44) on one side of the molecule inducing a partial negative charge with the hydrogens carrying a partial positive charge due to hydrogen's lower electronegativity value (2.20).

Formaldehyde has a melting point of -92˚C and a boiling point of -19˚C as a result of its polar character. This means that the compound is a gas at standard temperature and pressure. It is also very soluble within other polar compounds such as water. Formaldehyde is mostly produced by processes in the upper atmosphere which account for 90% of its natural product. Processes such as forest fires and automobile exhaust systems also contribute CH2O to the environment. This molecule has also been found in interstellar space. There are many reactions involving formaldehyde within organic chemistry.

CH2O Ball and Stick Diagram
CH2O Ball and Stick Diagram. Created with MolView.
How is CH2O utilized in the real world?

The structure is a quite common precursor to many more complex molecules, including resins and finishes. There are a wide variety of niche uses as well including as a disinfectant and in photography. The compound is considered a human carcinogen at higher concentrations although your body naturally produces and requires a certain amount of formaldehyde. Certain countries have in fact banned manufacturing and importation of CH2O. There were also incidents in the 2000s where large quantities of foodstuff were contaminated in countries like Indonesia and Vietnam where the chemical was added to extent the shelf life of products.

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