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FORMALDEHYDE RELEASERS
IN EVERYDAY PRODUCTS

Formaldehyde releasers decompose to produce formaldehyde that act as preservatives for body products, shampoos and cleaning products. Without preservatives most body products would spoil due to bacterial and fungal growth, especially creams and lotions. Most consumers expect to store their body products and cleaning products in their cabinets and in their showers. Ask yourself, would you be willing to go to your refrigerator everyday to retrieve your personal products and return them to your refrigerator after use? Most consumers would not be willing to do this, so, manufactures have been forced to include preservatives in their products. There was and is obvious public unease concerning the use of formaldehyde used directly as a preservative because formaldehyde is a frank carcinogen (directly cancer causing). (1.) So, those ever so cleaver manufacturers pulled formaldehyde from their formulations and their ingredient lists and replaced it with a formaldehyde releaser. A formaldehyde releaser will decompose to release formaldehyde when in formulation. The manufacturers have not pulled formaldehyde at all, they simply cloaked it. Oh sure, there may be alternatives, but price and effectiveness certainly are a determining factor when manufacturers are formulating their products. Think about your own buying demands, majority of consumers want their products to be very affordable and also have a substantial shelf life, well, here comes the formaldehyde releasers.

Formaldehyde releasers can have dangerous health effects to the human body even at low levels of exposure. They can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, create mucosal decongestion, create serious respiratory problems, and expose you to risk for cancer. Formaldehyde enhances and can cause skin irritation commonly known as eczema. Eczema is characterized by skin drying, cracking; reddening and even blistering is some cases. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel evaluated formaldehyde presence in cosmetics and declared that formaldehyde presence of 0.2% in cosmetics is safe for consumers. The panel further says “but to keep exposure to a minimum.” It is pertinent to mention that the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel on their home page state that they are funded by the Personal Care Products Council, formally known as the cosmetic, toiletry and fragrance association as well as supported by the US food and Drug association and consumer federation of America. If you go to the Personal Care Products Councils web site you will find they are funded by over 600 industry companies ranging from suppliers of ingredients, raw materials, packaging, etc. Hmmmm?

Here is a quick little summation of a few common formaldehyde releasers and a quick explanation.

Diazolidinyl Urea

Diazolidinyl Urea is a mild sensitizer, fine, white powder used in personal care and cosmetics products believed to be safe when used within the 0.5% concentration level. The other name of this chemical compound is carbamide, which is synthesized artificially from inorganic compounds. The synthetic chemical came from the mixture of carbon dioxide and synthetic ammonia. The synthetic urea is found in hair coloring products, diuretics, and dermatological products offering skin rehydration functions. Diazolidinyl Urea releases formaldehyde.

DMDM-hydantoin

DMDM-hydantoin is an antimicrobial, organic compound appearing as a solid white crystalline that releases formaldehyde to work as preservative in hair care and skin care products specifically anti-aging, hair coloring, hair conditioner, foundations, makeup base, and facial moisturizer. DMDM-hydantoin prevents the cosmetic products from bacterial spoilage, accumulating molds, and mildews. The other name or trade name of this chemical in the market is Glydant. The acceptable concentration of DMDM in a product is below 0.5%. Those products containing more than 0.5% are required to label the product as formaldehyde releaser. This ingredient is said to be carcinogenic in large doses.

Imidazolidinyl Urea

Imidazolidinyl Urea is a formaldehyde releaser usually combined with parabens to act as preservative in pharmaceutical preparations and cosmetic products. This free flowing, white powder known as skin sensitizer, antimicrobial agent is used in skin care and cosmetic products such as facial treatment, skin lightener, brow liner, lipstick, deodorant, and many other beauty products. This compound causes contact dermatitis. The trade name of this compound is Germall while the chemical name is methylenebis.

Metheneamine

Metheneamine is a chemical and antibacterial agent that belongs to the hormone-disrupting family of chemicals found in body wash, shampoos, facial cleansers, liquid soaps, and shower gels. The other names of Metheneamine are Urotropin, Cystogen, Ammoform, and Ammonioformaldehyde. Metheneamine is proven formaldehyde releaser.

Formaldehyde releasers decompose rapidly to release formaldehyde when dissolved in aqueous solvents. Formaldehyde releasers are used as preservatives in many body and cleaning products. The CIR states that a formaldehyde presence of 0.2% is considered safe. I guess my concern is this: most people use multiple body products and cleaning products daily. For myself I use shampoo, conditioner, soaps, creams, cosmetics, and cleaning products daily. Using a single product once would probably not be a health issue for most people. The controversy and potential problems arise because these products are used over and over and over again, 365 days a year for most of our lives. It is fairly easy to see from this perspective that the small but constant assault of any toxic chemical, over time, can be problematic for one’s health. Stop! Think! Consider!

People and the Earth deserve the very best! Cheers!

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References:
Epstein, S. Toxic Beauty. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, Inc.
The scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products, SCCNFP/586/2002. The Determination of Certain Formaldehyde Releasers In Cosmetic Products.
Bongbong S. Formaldehyde Releasers Research.


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