That new beautiful couch that you just purchased has finally been delivered to your home, it looks perfect, but smells…strong! Many new products will have a strong odor that one may associate with that ‘new’ smell. However, that ‘new’ smell that fills your nose will linger for quite a while after your purchase. The result of this odor is a combination of chemicals that were used in the construction of your new product and formaldehyde is one of the main chemicals at play. Formaldehyde is a chemical that can lead to health issues for many that are sensitive to the chemical compound and in recent years has been found to be highly toxic in large quantities and long exposure time for public health. Therefore, understanding the dangers associated with exposure to formaldehyde and learning what household products contain this potentially toxic chemical can help you to minimize the chemical in your home. And you won’t believe what common household products in your home contain or produce formaldehyde!
Formaldehyde and Its Uses
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas that is produced and used in the construction of building materials and household products. This common chemical can be emitted from a number of products in your home which can create high or low levels of formaldehyde. The level of formaldehyde in your home can vary as a higher level of formaldehyde will usually be found in newer homes or homes with new construction. Over time the levels will decrease but air flow and humidity can majorly impact this reduction of this chemical. The United States government classified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen but, yet the use of formaldehyde continues to increase as one of the most common uses of this chemical is in the manufacturing of particleboard which is ever present in many household products and building materials.
Dangers of Formaldehyde Exposure
Formaldehyde has among the largest overall health impacts of chemical air pollutants in US residences. Some people are more sensitive to formaldehyde than others, so depending on the person the health effects can vary significantly. Formaldehyde can contain many dangers including the fact that it is a known cause of cancer. Scientific research has not yet identified a certain level of formaldehyde exposure that can cause cancer. However, the larger the quantity and the longer the exposure, the greater the chance of developing cancer.
Formaldehyde exposure can also be more hazardous depending on your age and health standing. Children and the elderly are especially at risk during formaldehyde exposure. In children, formaldehyde exposure can exacerbate illness and can cause health problems, whereas, the elderly may be less tolerable to formaldehyde exposure.
Symptoms of Exposure to Formaldehyde
When you are exposed to formaldehyde, an irritation of the airways can occur. Those with asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing conditions can be especially sensitive to formaldehyde. Symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest pains, and bronchitis are likely to occur from exposure.
5 Products that Create Formaldehyde in Your Home
Formaldehyde is often times hiding in many places that you simply don’t suspect. Often times we are simply unaware of the different products in our home that could contain harmful chemicals like formaldehyde in its construction. After doing further research on what products in the home that produce and contain formaldehyde, you will not believe what products are composed of this potentially harmful chemical.
1.) Laundry Detergent:
Laundry detergent is composed of a long list of chemicals and an alarming chemical found in many detergents is formaldehyde, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The chemical 1,4-dioxane which is commonly used in many detergents was found to have trace amounts of formaldehyde which will collect on your clothing. This can lead to long exposure time as we wear clothes every day and can be breathed in, as well as be absorbed through your skin. Therefore, looking for natural laundry detergents that contain no harmful or toxic chemicals is critical for minimizing formaldehyde exposure.
2.) Bath Soap:
The United States Department of Health and Human Services contains a number of soaps and body washes on their formaldehyde list. Soaps and body wash come in a variety of colors and fragrances, therefore making you question the means to accomplish these modifications. Chemicals are the likely answer to the smell and color of your body soap. Certain chemicals are used in the creation of body soap to help give it its cleaning power, its smell, and its ability to moisturize. However, some of these chemicals can be extremely harmful to human health including formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a common chemical used in soaps, so being sure to use a formaldehyde-free body soap can be important for eliminating the use of formaldehyde on your body.
Formaldehyde is typically found in plastics, particleboard, plywood, fiberboard, and more products. A popular culprit of formaldehyde in your home is likely from furniture, as formaldehyde is used as an adhesive in most furniture. If you purchase a new piece of furniture, ensure that the product does not contain formaldehyde. However, if the furniture you purchased does, you will want to place it in an area that it can air out like out on your porch or in your garage where ventilation is high, and air can quickly work to remove the formaldehyde off-gassing.
4.) New Homes:
People who purchase a new home may be surprised to learn that their air quality is significantly compromised. Many of the building materials used in the construction of your new home contain the harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde. Studies have even found that new homes often times contain 2 to 5 times the level of outdoor air pollution. Therefore, having in place an air purifier to remove formaldehyde from the air will significantly help to reduce the level of hazard and eliminate formaldehyde from the environment.
5.) Gas Stoves:
A seemingly safe and unprovoking act such as cooking can possibly release toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde into the air. Gas stoves, particularly, emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde. This can lead to an increase in various respiratory and other health ailments.