Hidden Formaldehyde

16 Dec

It’s a word we all know, formaldehyde.  An embalming agent. Formaldehyde has been used for decades to embalm dead bodies for open casket burials. It is a preservation fluid that replaces the blood. Yeah, real exciting stuff I know… but the interesting fact that many people don’t know is it’s a recognized cancer causing agent (carcinogen) by the National Cancer Institute, and oh, by the way, it’s in most of the products you buy and use around your home, even the materials your home was built with!

Many personal cleansing and beauty products contain formaldehyde, think about that before you put them on your skin, your largest organ. Here are some of the personal products that might contain this toxin:
  • Lotions
  • Shampoos
  • Sunblock
  • Soap Bars
  • Cosmetics
  • Body Wash
  • Toothpaste
  • Baby Wipes
  • Bubble Bat

Oh, and remember the Brazilian Hair straightening craze? Yup.. it uses Formaldehyde. Some of the hairdressers who’ve been giving the service have been getting sick!
Don’t forget some Nail Polishes and Hair Dyes. (Except OPI which is my favorite brand and is it is free of toluene, DBP, and formaldehyde!)

Am I cleaning my home with formaldehyde?

Well..Most Likely Yes.

Are you reading every single label? If not, chances are that you are probably using some fairly toxic chemicals in your house cleaning regime. The best rule of thumb is to look for products that say things like “Non-toxic to humans and aquatic life,” or “readily biodegradable.”

I’ve read my product labels, and they don’t say I’m using formaldehyde containing products.

While it’s great you’re reading product labels, you must be aware that those tricky manufacturers often use synonyms that don’t usually create attention in their consumers. Synonyms and chemicals that “act like” formaldehyde are often used on ingredient lists. Be wary of products containing the following ingredients:
  • Formalin
  • Methanal
  • Oxymethyline
  • Urea
  • 1,3-Dioxetane
  • Quaternium 15
  • Methylaldehyde
  • Methylene Oxide
  • Formic Aldehyde
  • Oxomethane Formalin
  • Phenol Formaldehyde

The Dangers of Using Products Containing Formaldehyde

Watery, burning eyes, nose and throat, asthmatic attacks, skin irritation, headaches and nausea are all possible short term side effects of formaldehyde exposure. Long term effects include cancer and possibly leukemia.

Most products contain only very small amounts of harmful chemicals. The danger lies in our modern habits of using many of these products, and for a long time. As you surround yourself with more and more formaldehyde containing products your exposure level increases. Similarly, the longer you expose yourself to these products the more exposure you are getting.

Precautions You Can Take to Avoid Formaldehyde Exposure

The first step is getting these chemicals out of your home. Cleaning and personal care products can be easily replaced with natural alternatives (remember to look for products that are “readily biodegradable” and “non toxic to humans and aquatic life”).

Other things, like particle board or pressed wood, may take longer to replace, but should be replaced as soon as practical. Or you can use an organic clay paint to absorb any potential outgassing the next time you paint your walls. In time, you can greatly reduce your exposure to formaldehyde just by knowing what to look for and what to avoid.

And isn’t it worth this small change now to avoid the potential long-term health impacts on you and those you care about?

Here is a list of BABY PRODUCTS with the harmful chemical: Baby Products: Now With Formaldehyde
Be sure you google the products you use daily to make sure they are safe as well.


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2 Responses to “Hidden Formaldehyde”

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