(NaturalNews) Formaldehyde is one of the most toxic chemicals that can invade the human body. It is a known carcinogen and tissue irritant. Yet the chemical is still allowed in "safe" concentrations in certain products we touch, put on our skin or hair, and inhale every day.
Formaldehyde is used for a variety of industrial purposes, but most of us know it as the funky smelling liquid that preserved the dissection subjects in biology class. Long term preservation is just one of its functions. It serves as a disinfectant, embalming agent, chemical preservative, and solvent.
Formaldehyde in the air we breathe
Breathing formaldehyde is likely our biggest risk of exposure to this toxic chemical. That new car smell that everyone seems to love is largely due to the formaldehyde content in the materials that comprise the interior of the vehicle.
Formaldehyde is also used heavily in the construction industry. Unless you are purchasing or building a "green" home you likely are being exposed to formaldehyde fumes years after a home is first built. This is due to the heavy industrial use of the chemical in treating wood used in foundations, plywood, particle board, and other common materials that make up a home and its furnishings.
Cigarette smoke gives off fumes of the chemical also. Formaldehyde is often a by-product of the chemicals and tobaccos used in cigarette making when burned. Exhaust fumes from cars also contain the chemical. New carpet, paint, certain types of glue used in home building and other adhesives, putties and structural materials contain the chemical as well. The fumes are at their worst for the first five years and tend to lessen in concentration over time.
Formaldehyde, as well as a host of other chemicals, give new homes the smell of "newness". Anyone particularly sensitive to chemicals may experience headaches, itchy or swollen eyes, nasal and throat irritation and other discomforts until the fumes dissipate with time. It has also been linked to pulmonary dysfunction and asthma.
Many of the hair treatments on the market today contain the chemical. Hair stylists who often work with permanent hair straightening or curling treatments are heavily exposed to varying levels of formaldehyde fumes. Stylists have reported symptoms such as bloody noses, difficulty breathing, throat and eye irritation and headaches when working in close contact with the chemical.
Absorption via the skin
Formaldehyde doesn't just find its way into our body via inhalation. It is also used in many of the items we use every day that touch our skin. This may be inadvertent as sometimes formaldehyde can be a by-product of some of the other chemicals used in our personal care products.
Ureas are a chemical family commonly used in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, cosmetics and many other personal or beauty care items. You may see them on labels as DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl or diazolidinyl. Another chemical to check for is quaternium-15. These chemicals are used as preservatives and stabilizers and they release formaldehyde over time.
As previously mentioned, formaldehyde is used in many of today's hair smoothing treatments. Many times these treatments require several minutes to work. This means your scalp is absorbing these toxic chemicals the entire time.
Formaldehyde is also found in some of the fabric that makes up the clothes we wear. It is commonly used in "wrinkle free" types of clothing. It is prudent to wash all new clothes or air them out for a period of a couple days before putting them on. This reduces the concentration of your exposure via the skin and inhalation.
About the author: Danna Norek founded AuraSensory.com. Product line includes an MSM & Vitamin C Ester Hydrating & Brightening Face Cream and all natural plumping Hyaluronic Acid Serum (greatly increases skin's moisture retention), Sulfate Free Natural Shine Enhancing Shampoo and Deep Hydration Conditioner, a very effective natural deodorant, and other body care. Visit to learn more about what chemicals & ingredients to avoid in your beauty and personal care products at AuraSensory.com .