Reduce your Formaldehyde Exposure
Table of Contents
Read Labels On All Personal Care Items. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, don't buy the product.
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals are often used in shampoos including baby shampoos and liquid soaps. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing chemicals are sometimes present in the following items:
- nail polish, nail and eyelash glue
- hair gel and hair smoothing products
- body wash
- colored cosmetics (blush, lipstick, etc.)
This is not a complete list. Please read the labels before you purchase.
The most concerning addition of formaldehyde is to baby shampoos and body washes.
Lumber Liquidators is famous for purchasing formaldehyde containing flooring and widely installing it in the US. Formaldehyde is used in glues for wood products like plywood and particle board; as well as low end furniture. Formaldehyde will off gas fairly quickly when exposed to the air. The problem for Lumber Liquidators was the formaldehyde was used in the glue and had little air exposure so the off gassing continued for a long time. Exposure to long term formaldehyde is not recommended. OSHA Fact Sheet: Formaldehyde Don’t misunderstand – exposure to any formaldehyde in any concentration for any length of time is not recommended.
If you are remodeling, it is recommended that you purchase with care any wood product that may have glue like plywood and cabinets.
Formaldehyde and the EPA
In 2016 the EPA issued a final rule to implement the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products. This added formaldehyde to Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
What is Formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a liquid chemical that is used as a fungicide, disinfectant, and germicide, normally in an industrial setting. Formaldehyde is produced by smoking cigarettes and normally occurs in the environment. Small amounts are also produced by most living organisms from normal metabolic processes. Formaldehyde, at certain levels, has a strong, sour, chemical smell.
Reduce your formaldehyde exposure by placing all formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing chemicals outside. Formaldehyde off-gasses quickly when exposed to air and sunlight. The problems come when air can comes in contact when the product is used – like in baby shampoo.
Common Human Responses to Formaldehyde Exposure
Everyone is different, but here’s a list of some of the more common human responses:
- itchy and/or runny eyes
- irritation in the nose and throat
Much less common is asthma.
Ongoing formaldehyde exposure may cause irritation to the linings of the throat and nose, as well as damage to the eyes.
Formaldehyde Releasing Chemicals
Given the potential dangers, how do we ensure the safety of those who work in commercial buildings containing fiberglass?
The key is controlling exposure. This starts with the proper installation of fiberglass materials, employing techniques that minimize the release of fibers into the air. It also includes ensuring regular maintenance and cleaning procedures are adhered to, minimizing any potential disturbance of the materials.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) also plays a critical role. Workers installing or maintaining fiberglass materials should wear protective clothing, goggles, and respiratory protection to minimize contact with the fibers.
Here's a partial list of the most common formaldehyde releasing chemicals used in personal care products:
Quaternium-15 is the most sensitizing of these FRPs and is found in blush, mascara, lotion and shampoo.
DMDM Hydantoin is found in lotion, sunscreen and make-up remover and is one of the least sensitizing of the FRPs.
Imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, and polyoxymethylene urea, are found in shampoo, conditioner, blush, eye shadow, and lotion and are all known human allergens. Imidazolidinyl urea is one of the most common antimicrobial agents used in personal care products and is often combined with parabens to provide a broad spectrum preservative system.Diazolidinyl urea releases the most formaldehyde of any FRP.
Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate is found in shampoo, moisturizer, conditioner, and lotion. Animal studies have shown that sodium hydroxymethylglycinate has the potential for sensitization and dermatitis.
Bromopol is found in nail polish, makeup remover, moisturizer and body wash. Bromopol is considered safe in concentrations less than 0.1%, but cannot be found in formulations with the FRP amine. Mixing bromopol and amines produce nitrosamines (Link to same chemical in nitrosamines) which have been found to penetrate the skin and cause cancer.
Glyoxal is found in conditioner, lotion, nail polish and nail treatment. CIR Expert Panel has declared that glyoxal is a skin allergen.
Often formaldehyde is released from the preservatives included in personal care products.
Formaldehyde is a sour, strong-smelling gas. Remember what the Ikea stores used to smell like? That sour smell that would hit you in the face when the doors opened? That’s formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is also used in glue for wood products like plywood and MDF.
Formaldehyde has been linked to cancer and is absorbed through the skin as well as inhaled. Reduce your formaldehyde exposure whenever possible.