In a report released on August 8th, the National Research Council confirmed the findings of the National Toxicology Program that “formaldehyde is known to be a human carcinogen.”
The chemical industry has been disputing the National Toxicology Program’s conclusion since it first reported in 2011.
You may be thinking, “The only time I’ve ever encountered formaldehyde was in 8th Grade science class, dissecting a frog!” But you would be mistaken.
Where do you find formaldehyde?
“People are exposed to formaldehyde from a variety of sources including tobacco smoke and building materials such as plywood that contain formaldehyde-based glue. Workers in the furniture, textile, and construction industries, among others, are also exposed on the job to the substance. Human cells also produce formaldehyde.” Chemical & Engineering News
Formaldehyde is found in products like:
Furniture made from wood composites including office furniture, sofas, cribs, anything made of pressed board or plywood.
Many building materials including acoustical ceilings, adhesives, and paints
Household cleaners, disinfectants and air fresheners
Textiles like carpets, draperies and coatings on upholstery
Personal care products for hair, skin and nails, toothpaste and body wash
Baby products like bubble bath, creams and shampoo.
New car smell (weren’t we just talking about that the other day?)
So you can see that you probably encounter formaldehyde in small amounts every day, one way or another. There are bigger concerns, of course, for those who work with formaldehyde in the manufacture of all of those products and materials.
What can you do to get formaldehyde out of your environment?
The best thing to do is prevent it getting in. Keep new furniture unwrapped outdoors for a few days before bringing it in. Choose solid wood for furniture and flooring. Research formaldehyde-free products for cleaning, decorating and personal care.
If you are concerned about formaldehyde already in your home, get some houseplants! Here are 10 that are proven to improve your indoor air quality:
1. Aloe Vera
2. Areca Palm
3. Baby Rubber
4. Bamboo Palm
5. Boston Fern
6. Chinese Evergreen
7. Ficus Alii
8. Gerbera Daisy
9. Mass Cane
10. Pygmy Date Palm
Formaldehyde is definitely something we should all be staying away from!