Formaldehyde 

SCA endorses products with the Allergy Certified logo, that do not contain Formalin. "Formaldehyde gas is not used as a cosmetic ingredient. Instead, Formaldehyde may be dissolved in water and used as Formalin." - Cosmetics.info

“Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring substance made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Humans produce about 1.5 ounces of formaldehyde a day as a normal part of our metabolism. Inhaled formaldehyde is rapidly metabolized and ultimately converted to carbon dioxide and exhaled. Formaldehyde does not accumulate in the body.” - download the fact sheet by AmericanChemistry.com

CLASSIFICATION

CAS No: 50-00-0. Synonym(s): FORMALIN; FORMIC ALDEHYDE; MERTHALDEHYDE; METHANAL; METHYL ALDEHYDE; OXOMETHANE; OXYMETHYLENE; ALDEHYD MRAVENCI (CZECH) ; ALDEHYDE FORMIQUE (FRENCH) ; ALDEIDE FORMICA (ITALIAN) ; BFV" - EWG

HOW IS IT USED?

Formalin is commonly found in nail hardeners, keratin hair straighteners, shampoo and conditioners, baby wash including liquid soaps and liquid baby wash, cosmetics, hand gels, toothpaste, cream cleansers and eyelash glue. High levels of exposure to formaldehyde, particularly in cosmetic products, can cause:

  • sensory irritation

  • skin sensitisation

  • breathing difficulties

  • asthma

  • cancer, in circumstances where there is chronic high exposure." - Productsafety.gov.au ACCC

RESEARCH - WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

  • Banned in cosmetics in Japan and Sweden.

  • Banned in the United States

  • Restricted in Canada.

  • NICNAS Australia - Human Health Tier II assessment November 2006, Not restricted.

  • "The most common cause of eyelid dermatitis is the formaldehyde in nail polish," says dermatologist Dr. Marsha Gordon. "After you polish your nails, there is a day or two when the finish is not rock hard, and that's when formaldehyde may be released. Your hands may not show redness because that skin is tough, but when you touch your eyes while washing or moisturizing, you can end up with dermatitis there." - MarieClaire

  • Productsafety.gov.au ACCC Australia

WHAT IS FORMALDEHYDE?

  • Naturally occurring and commonly used in the form of formalin, it inhibits the growth of microorganisms. Other names: Formic aldehyde; Methaldehyde; Methanal; Oxomethane; Oxymethylene.

  • Multiple health concerns, mainly skin irritation. Commonly used in colour cosmetics and liquid hair and baby care products, hand sanitisers, paint and carpets, nail products and all kinds of household cleaning agents.

  • Approximately 20% of cosmetics and personal care products, contain a formaldehyde releasing preservatives. In 1996, the production of formaldehyde was estimated at 8.7 million tons per year.

  • NICNAS Australia; Toxicity Category I for eye irritation and Toxicity Category II for skin irritation.

  • "Low levels of formaldehyde are found in many consumer products, but high levels of exposure to the chemical are unsafe. Always check ingredients labels and follow care instructions when using products that contain formaldehyde." - ACCC - "High levels of exposure to formaldehyde, particularly in cosmetic products, can cause: sensory irritation, skin sensitisation, breathing difficulties, asthma, cancer, in circumstances where there is chronic high exposure.

  • "the highest risk is from the air when formaldehyde is inhaled from breathing, and occurs more frequently in people who routinely use formaldehyde in their jobs." - FDA

  • "What are the short-term health effects of formaldehyde exposure? When formaldehyde is present in the air at levels exceeding 0.1 ppm, some individuals may experience adverse effects such as watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; wheezing; nausea; and skin irritation." - Cancer.gov

RESOURCES & RECOMMENDED ARTICLES:

FRPs Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives

SCA campaigns for some FRP's to be excluded from Australian cosmetics, personal care and household products. Products endorsed by SCA exclude certan FRP's and restrict all preservatives to a maximum of <1% or less for leave on products and a maximum of <3% or less for rinse off products. FRP's should also require a warning on the product label to "always patch test before use". Standard use of preservatives ranges from 0.01 to 0.3% the percentage usage should vary according to the age of the consumer eg. baby products and those intended for sensitive allergy prone skin like eczema should not contain FRP's, FRP's should be restricted to a maximum of 0.1 to 1% or less depending on the age of the consumer.

"Oral products such as toothpastes may only contain up to 0.1 percent formaldehyde, while nail hardeners can have up to 5 percent. All other cosmetic products (such as shampoos and straightening solutions) can have up to 0.2 percent. At these lowlevels, the use of formaldehyde is deemed to be safe." - Science.org.au


"Formaldehyde is also produced naturally in the human body as a part of normal functions of the body to produce energy and build the basic materials needed for important life processes. This includes making amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins that the body needs." - FDA

RESOURCES & RECOMMENDED ARTICLES: Formaldehyde in vaccines,

Amina Kitching