Friday, June 24, 2011
Formaldehyde is present in relatively benign quantities in nature. However, its presence in manufactured goods is a major health concern, because according to a significant body of research, it is a known carcinogenic chemical.
Recently the U.S Department of Health and Human Services released a report on newly designated carcinogens that included formaldehyde. The report went on to suggest that people in certain industries were especially vulnerable to the effects of exposure, such as those workers who worked in nail salons, in the funeral industry, and in industries which use formaldehyde to produce common household items including home furnishings, cleansers, and personal care products. People who are exposed to concentrated levels of formaldehyde are more likely to develop certain cancers such as nasopharyngeal cancer and myeloid leukemia.
While some efforts have been made to limit the quantities of formaldehyde used in manufacturing, such as restrictions recently placed by the US in The Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, this toxic substance remains a significant health concern, especially in confined spaces for prolonged periods of time.
Formaldehyde is classified as a volatile organic compound, or VOA.
Products which may contain formaldehyde include:
* Wood composite furniture including; resins used for office furniture, couches, baby furniture, particle board, pressed board, plywood, and softwood.
* Building materials such as acoustical ceilings, mineral wool, decking, composite core doors, industrial glues, foam insulation, paints and paint thinners.
* Household cleansers such as floor polishes, scouring cleansers, disinfectants, liquid cleansers, laundry aids, air fresheners, carpet cleaners.
* Household items such as wall hangings, carpets or throw rugs, coating on paper products, textiles, plastics, and upholstery.
* Personal care products such as hair straightening products, hair rinses, and cosmetics such as nail polish and hair gel often contain formaldehyde. Baby products including shampoos, creams and bubble bath are frequently laced with formaldehyde. Toothpaste and body washes are also potential sources of this potentially carcinogenic ingredient.
* Clothing that is designated wrinkle free or preshrunk frequently contains formaldehyde. It has also been found in baby clothes and bedding.
* Formaldehyde is also a key component in the familiar new car smell of recently purchased vehicles.
* Car exhaust and cigarette smoke also contain formaldehyde.
* Formaldehyde is used as a disinfectant in laboratory settings, and is also used in the embalming process.
There are ways to reduce exposure to formaldehyde including buying products that are formaldehyde free. Another important way to reduce exposure is to be certain to properly ventilate the house. But it's clear that you can run by you can't hide. Even careful buyers are hard-pressed to avoid formaldehyde altogether.
Thus, here is yet another reason why everyone who wishes to not take any chances with their health will take measures to reduce other toxic exposures as well, including those in the diet, add therapeutic amounts of antioxidants, and consider undergoing a periodic detoxification program.