- DMDM hydantoin
- Diazolidinyl urea
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
You do not want these on a label in your bathroom! Used as preservatives in soaps, shampoos, hair products, deodorants, lotions, make-up, mouthwashes and nail products (Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, 1984; Reuss et al., 2003), these ingredients are just some of the culprits that gift you with continuous ``off-gassing`` of formaldehyde.
Basically formaldehyde is all around us in our homes and workplace: it is used to make resins, adhesives, embalming fluid and toilet bowl cleaner to name a few. It can cause many allergic reactions – prolonged exposure can cause respiratory irritation (remember the overpowering fumes from that new carpet in your office/home ?), skin reactions, asthma complications, and is a probable human carcinogen*. And of course, the vulnerable are most at risk.
Oddly enough, formaldehyde is restricted for use in cosmetics in Canada, but the ingredients culpable of releasing formaldehyde are not!
So what does that mean for consumers? It would be a herculean task to eliminate all sources of formaldehyde, but given the health risks it only makes sense to reduce exposure as much as we can. We don`t have to become chemists to read the label and understand what is in our products (although you may want to leave the kids at home when on a label-reading shopping trip!), and use as many natural products as possible (see previous blog for the pitfalls of `natural` products). Be in the know!
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For the scientific scoop please see the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)`s monograph on formaldehyde
*``Animal studies have shown increased nasal cancers in rats and mice who inhaled high levels of formaldehyde for a long time. Because of this, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen...`` (Illinois Department of Public Health)