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Formaldehyde

23 Aug

What is formaldehyde?

TEA Poison BottleFormaldehyde is a colourless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical and is a gas. The most common perception of formaldehyde is as a liquid. The liquid is actually a mixture of 37% formaldehyde gas in 100% of water, which is the most common concentration used. Formaldehyde solution will polymerise, ie. turn into a polymer. To prevent this from happening, about 10 – 15% of methyl alcohol is added. It is this addition that causes the substance to be called formalin as opposed to formaldehyde.

Formalin is extremely poisonous.

Formaldehyde sources in the home include pressed-wood products, cigarette smoke, and fuel-burning appliances.Outside the home include vehicle tailpipe emissions.

 Formaldehyde is used in many applications

Formaldehyde is used in building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in:

  • plastics, foam insulation, mirrors, petroleum, resins and industrial chemicals;
  • sheet vinyl flooring, doors, decking;Formaldehyde Particle Boards
  • pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, MDF, laminated timber, wall lining and coverings such as wallpaper;
  • glues and adhesives;
  • textiles and clothing, such as fabrics, blankets, permanent-press and stain resistant fabrics;
  • paper product coatings, certain insulation materials;
  • cosmetics and personal care products, such as cleansers, fingernail varnishes and hardeners, shampoos and conditioners, toothpastes and hair straightening solutions;
  • household cleaning products, such as carpet and rug cleaners, disinfectants, dish washing liquids, floor cleaner and polish.
  • In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories.
  • Formaldehyde also occurs naturally in the environment. It is produced in small amounts by most living organisms as part of normal metabolic processes.
Formaldehyde, (Chemical symbol is CH2O) is an organic, volatile compound which:
Formaldehyde Nail Polish
  • readily dissolves in water
  • decays rapidly
  • can be produced and excreted by the human body
  • does not accumulate in the human body or environment
  • is produced naturally at low levels from things like plants, smoke and food.

During the 1970s, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was used in many homes. However, few homes are now insulated with UFFI. Homes in which UFFI was installed many years ago are not likely to have high formaldehyde levels now. Pressed-wood products containing formaldehyde resins are often a significant source of formaldehyde in homes. Other potential indoor sources of formaldehyde include cigarette smoke and the use of unvented fuel-burning appliances, such as gas stoves, wood-burning stoves, and kerosene (paraffin) heaters.

What are the short-term health effects of formaldehyde exposure?

When formaldehyde is present in the air at levels exceeding 0.1 ppm (parts per million), some individuals may experience adverse effects such as:

  • watery eyes;
  • burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat;
  • coughing;
  • wheezing;
  • nausea;
  • and skin irritation.

Some people are very sensitive to formaldehyde, whereas others have no reaction to the same level of exposure.

Allergic reactions

People have suffered dermatitis after wearing clothing or using cosmetic products that contained high levels of formaldehyde.

After exposure to formaldehyde in hair products or in resins used in clothing and textiles, people can become sensitive to formaldehyde and develop on-going allergies.

People who have become sensitised to formaldehyde may suffer asthma and contact dermatitis.

Irritation of the nose, eyes and other adverse effects

Breathing formaldehyde vapour can result in irritation of nerves in the eyes and nose. This may cause:

  • burning stinging or itching sensations
  • a sore throat
  • teary eyes
  • blocked sinuses
  • runny nose
  • sneezing.

In occupational settings where people have significant daily exposure to formaldehyde, for example embalming processes in the funeral industry, they may also suffer:

  • headaches
  • depression
  • mood changes
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • attention deficit
  • impairment of dexterity, memory, and equilibrium.

Can formaldehyde cause cancer?

Formaldehyde Danger SignAlthough the short-term health effects of formaldehyde exposure are well known, less is known about its potential long-term health effects. In 1980, laboratory studies showed that exposure to formaldehyde could cause nasal cancer in rats. This finding raised the question of whether formaldehyde exposure could also cause cancer in humans. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure.

Since that time, some studies of humans have suggested that formaldehyde exposure is associated with certain types of cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. In 2011, the National Toxicology Program, an inter-agency program of the Department of Health and Human Services, named formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen in its 12th Report on Carcinogens

Reducing the Risks of Exposure to Formaldehyde

So, we see that Formaldehyde is very prolific in our environment and there are short term and long term concerns for our health and safety.  In fact, our bodies produce formaldehyde and excrete it in normal function, so any extra formaldehyde added to this production may cause an added threat.

In the first instance, we should try to reduce our exposure to formaldehyde, for example, by purchasing “exterior grade” pressed-wood products, because they contain phenol resins and not urea resins which contain higher levels of formaldehyde.

But, of course, purchasing these products is not an everyday thing… using personal care and household cleaning products IS an everyday thing.  Reducing your toxic load in the house is the sensible thing to do.  You can do this by switching your buying habits from toxic products to non-toxic.  Now, I know that a number of non-toxic, “green” products on the market just don’t work properly and don’t give the appropriate results that we have come to expect. I know, because we have tried them. They do not give the results that we have come to expect from the toxic products.

So I can thoroughly recommend the products we use which are effective as well as safe. In other words, THEY WORK!

In order to avoid formaldehyde in your home, you need to purchase the products in the bathroom pack, the household cleaning pack, the laundry pack and the range of toxic-free cosmetics.  Of course, if you are on a tight budget, you don’t have to purchase these all at once, just pick the products you want to change over to when your toxic products run out.

Bathroom Pack                            

Convert Your Bathroom PackNeways Bathroom Pack without such toxins as Formaldehyde, include only safe and effective ingredients for your face and body.

Choose your country:
Australia & New Zealand | USA & Canada
UK & Europe: Please name the product in the generated email

     

House Cleaning Pack

Household CleanersNewBrite House Cleaning Pack without such toxins as Formaldehyde, include only safe and effective ingredients for cleaning your home.

Choose your country:
Australia & New Zealand | USA & Canada
UK & Europe: Please name the product in the generated email

Laundry Pack

NewBrite Laundry LiquidNewBrite Laundry Pack without such toxins as Formaldehyde, include only safe and effective ingredients for cleaning your clothes.

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Australia & New Zealand | USA & Canada
UK & Europe: Please name the product in the generated email
 

Cosmetics

TrueTouch CosmeticsTrue Touch Cosmetics without such toxins as Formaldehyde, include only safe and effective ingredients for your face and body.

Choose your country:
Australia & New Zealand | USA & Canada
UK & Europe: Please name the product in the generated email

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Content Source: National Cancer Institute