Originally published August 8 2011
Formaldehyde listed as a carcinogen, Styrene a possibility
by Natalie June
(NaturalNews) In April the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration warned that some popular long-term hair straightening products contain high levels of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, along with Styrene and six other chemicals, were added recently to a new Report on Carcinogens put out by the National Toxicology Program, an interagency program of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Formaldehyde, which was previously listed as a "possible" carcinogen, is now listed as something known to cause cancer. Styrene, which is used in boats, bathtubs, and foam cups and plates, is now a "possible" cancer causing agent. Although these findings were suspected with the release of the previous report, industry groups have fought to keep this knowledge under wraps. "Industry held this report up for four years," said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "They have tried to create the impression that there was real scientific uncertainty here, but there is not." With these new additions in the 12th version of the report, 240 substances are now listed as either "known human carcinogen" or "reasonably anticipated" to be.
Government scientists have said that worrisome levels of formaldehyde have been found in plywood, particle board, mortuaries, and hair salons. Salon workers have reported headaches, nosebleeds, burning eyes, vomiting, and asthma attacks after using certain hair-straightening products. Studies that have been done on embalmers working in mortuaries have found increased incidences of myeloid leukemia and rare cancers of the nasal passages and upper mouth.
Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, said that formaldehyde is inescapable. "It`s the smell in new houses, and it`s in cosmetics like nail polish. All a reasonable person can do is manage their exposure and decrease it to as little as possible. It`s everywhere." Before making a purchase, buyers should ask about the formaldehyde content of pressed wood products, including building materials, cabinetry, and furniture. If pressed wood products can`t be avoided, look for those labeled U.L.E.F (ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde), N.A.F. (no added formaldehyde), or C.A.R.B. (California Air Resources Board) Phase 1 or Phase 2 compliant. With Styrene those that should be the most concerned are workers who build boats, car parts, bathtubs, and shower stalls, but consumers can also be exposed from the fumes of building materials, photocopiers, and tobacco smoke as well as low levels being found leaching from coffee cups and other food containers. Studies involving people and animals indicate that it can cause genetic damage to white blood cells.
Amazingly, as with people who still smoke while knowing that it causes cancer, "there are some women who won`t live without formaldehyde now," said Tania Machado a hairstylist in Rio, who deals with hair straightening products every day. "They were slaves to the salon, coming in every week for a blow-dry. For them, it was a god-send. For us, who do it every day, it`s not so good."
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About the authorNatalie June is a teacher and mother dedicated to living as naturally as possible.
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