A few weeks ago I took a closer look at the ingredients in nail polish. Up until recently a lot of nail polish brands contained a toxic trio of ingredients, one of them being formaldehyde.
This got me thinking about where else formaldehyde may be hiding in our homes and in the products we use every day.
I've put together a list of 50 Places you can find formaldehyde in your home.
But for this post, let's learn a little bit more about formaldehyde.
What is Formaldehyde?
According to Cancer.gov:
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials. In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories.
Formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Dangers of Formaldehyde:
The simple fact that formaldehyde is a known carcinogen is dangerous enough, but exposure to formaldehyde can also cause itchy eyes and throat, skin rashes, nausea, allergic reactions, asthma and wheezing.
How to Avoid Formaldehyde Exposure
It may be impossible to avoid all formaldehyde exposure because it is present in so many things, including car exhaust and furniture. But being aware of the places formaldehyde is hiding can help you take precautions to avoid it.
So how do you do this?
I wish I could tell you to simply read the labels of your personal care products, cleaning products and avoid those with “formaldehyde” as an ingredient. But it's not that simple.
The Environmental Working Group states:
According to data from the federal Food and Drug Administration, nearly 1 in 5 cosmetic products contains a substance that generates formaldehyde.
The product label won’t tell you if formaldehyde is present, even though the manufacturer has made sure a small amount of it is inside in the jar or bottle, to prolong shelf life.
According to the EWG, to truly avoid all forms of formaldehyde, you must also avoid products with formaldehyde-releasing chemicals including:
- DMDM hydantoin
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- Diazolidinyl urea
- Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol )
Below is the ingredient label for Irish Spring Body Wash with Aloe. It contains the formaldehyde-releaser DMDM hydantoin:
You can find a list of products known to contain Formaldehyde or Formaldehyde releasers here. It is not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start. The only way to ensure you are avoiding formaldehyde is to diligently read your labels and know what to look for.
The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database is another great resource for checking ingredients and the safety of your beauty products.
I've put together a long list of places formaldehyde can be found here.