"looked forlornly at the broken glass and spilled formaldehyde"
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a pungent odor. An aqueous solution of formaldehyde is often used as a disinfectant, as it kills most bacteria and fungi. It is also applied in medicine to dry the skin, such as in the treatment of warts, and to preserve biological specimens.
Formaldehyde is highly toxic to animals and humans, regardless of method of intake. In June 2011, the US National Toxicology Program described formaldehyde as "known to be a human carcinogen.”