Formaldehyde is a colorless gas compound (HCHO) that is known as a carcinogen, meaning that it causes cancer. It is an allergen that can also irritate your eyes, mucous membranes (eyes, nose and throat) and the upper respiratory system. It can also cause headaches, rashes, hives (blistery, white, and itchy), dizziness, nausea, and chronic fatigue. Some other symptoms include: heart palpitations, ear infections, trouble sleeping, memory loss, trouble focusing, depression, weakness, migraines, abdominal pain, aching joints and muscles, and difficulty breathing. Many doctors may misdiagnose this as a form of stress/anxiety/depression. However, you can understand why this is possible when you understand that formaldehyde is used in many products, including manufacturing fertilizers, dyes, embalming fluid, preservative and disinfectant. Of course, antihistamines aren’t going to work for you here, even though your sense of smell may become overly sensitive. Nevertheless, 1 in 5 people are sensitive to formaldehyde.
Spotting formaldehyde can be difficult since it may be listed under different names. However, it is important to read the product labels and avoid not only formaldehyde itself but also formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. One of the most common names for a formaldehyde-releasing preservative is Quaternium-15. However, there are also numerous other alternative name.
Formaldehyde can be found in hundreds of products, including cosmetics, paper, wood and clothes. Simply touching those products, or just breathing the formaldehyde they release into the air, can cause intense symptoms. Your best defense is to limit exposure to this chemical.
You need to know that formaldehyde is used in most clothing and textiles to prevent colors from running, and finished products are often treated with more formaldehyde to prevent wrinkles. You need to wash new clothes before you wear them in order to remove some of the chemical. If you want to avoid formaldehyde all together, you will need to switch to an all cotton wardrobe. You also need to realize that washing your clothes with Tide, Cheer, etc only adds more chemicals to your clothes.
Nail polishes and hardeners often contain formaldehyde to improve their gloss and adhesion. The formaldehyde is released into the air while your nails are wet/drying.
Here are some other products in which formaldehyde is commonly found: over-the-counter medications, mouthwash, hair spray, cosmetics, cleaning products, perfumes, waxes, hair setting lotions, shampoo, air fresheners, fungicides, fingernail polish, floor polishes, dry cleaning solvents, toothpaste, laundry spray starch, and antiperspirants, just to name a few.
Now here is an interesting fact about formaldehyde… Due to the increase in toxic buildup in our bodies, including the toxic buildup of formaldehyde, dead bodies are not decomposing as fast as they use to. Bodies use to decompose in 4 days but now they don’t start to decompose for at least 7 days after death. While talking about dead bodies, you should also note that twice as much formaldehyde was needed to embalm a person 20 years ago compared to today.
As for Quaternium-15… This chemical is commonly found in a variety of cosmetics including: foundations, powders, concealers, bronzers, makeup removers, blushes, eye shadows, eyeliners, eyebrow makeup, and mascaras (ie Avon® Advanced (Moisture) Foundation Natural Finish Creme Powder and Max Factor® Quick Draw Magic Eyeliner Pen). Quaternium-15 is found in many cleansers, sunscreens (ie Banana Boat® Dark Tanning Lotion and Physicians Formula® Sun Shield Oil-Free), moisturizers, creams, lotions (ie U-Lactin® Lotion and Mary Kay® Angelfire Perfumed Body Lotion), shampoos (ie baby shampoos such as Johnson & Johnson® and Baby Magic®), soaps (ie Dove Beauty Bar), and other skin care products. It is also found in adhesives, paper, paperboard, inks, polishes, and latex paints.