An Unseen Danger for
You and the Environment

What is formaldehyde?

I grew up knowing formaldehyde as that chemical stuff they put in the jars with the little dead animals from science class.  If you went to school back when I was in school, the science teacher always had some bugs and maybe a baby something or another sitting in the cabinet.

I never thought much about it until last summer when my family bought a used travel trailer.  We had to sign a paper dreamed up by the government saying that we were aware that the carpets and other materials in the trailer gave off formaldehyde fumes and we were OK with that. Not sure I am OK with that but you either sign the paper or you don't go camping. 

You guessed it, we went camping.

We are bombarded with a lot of chemicals everyday like formaldehyde.  It is getting pretty darn impossible to get away from them. Here is what I have learned, maybe it can help you and your family make better decisions if you are faced with a question or government paper like we were...

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen (cancer causing agent).

According to the National Cancer Institute, Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling gas. It is an industrial chemical used to manufacture building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in pressed wood products such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard, glues and adhesives, permanent press fabrics, paper product coatings, and certain insulation materials.(That pretty much describes everything our trailer is made from...)

In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as a fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories.

Formaldehyde also can be used to kill germs or as a preservative, and is found in some commercial products. It also is found in items such as dyes, textiles, plastics, paper products, fertilizer, and cosmetics.

At home, you may find formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing agents in:

  • Cosmetics such as foundations and powders, blush, mascaras, eye shadows, eyeliners and pencils
  • Durable press (wrinkle-resistant) fabrics
  • Cleaning products, waxes, and polishes and paints
  • Tobacco and cigarette smoke
  • Skin care products such as creams, lotions and moisturizers
  • Personal hygiene items such as soaps, cleansers, and shampoos

Can you believe it!

Toxins in our vitamins, baby care products and the stuff we put on our hair and skin everyday.

Scary when you can't trust the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo.

Some products containing formaldehyde that were listed in an article from Pediatric Annals 36:1, January 2007 include:


Avon Kids 2-in-1 Super Gentle Shampoo for Normal Hair, Avon, Dove Shampoo, Extra Volume, Unilver, Johnson's Baby Shampoo, Softwash Baby Shampoo, Kissably Baby Soft, Johnson & Johnson


Avon Kids Super Gentle Conditioner, Detangler, Avon, Dove conditioner, Intense Moisture, Unilever, Nizoral A-D Non-medicated Daily Conditioner, Janssen Pharmaceutica

Hair Gels:

Avon Kids Super Gentle 2-in-1 Soft Styling Gel, all hair types, Avon, Dove Shape & Lift Volumizing Gel, Unilever so multiplicity discipline smoothing gel, Innovative Styling Options

Baby Wipes:

Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes, Unscented Kimberly-Clark Huggies Newborn Baby Wipes, Fragrance Free, Kimberly-Clark Pampers One-ups, Baby Wipes with Aloe, Alchohol Free, Proctor & Gamble


Flintstones Children's Complete Multivitamin Chewable Tablets, Bayer; Centrum Kids Complete Vitamins, Chewable Tablets, Wyeth, One-a-Day Kids Scooby-Doo Multivitamin plus Calcium, Chewable Tablets, Bayer

Formaldehyde is also listed on labels as formalin, urea, phenol formaldehyde, methanal, methylene oxide, oxymethyline, methylaldehyde, and oxomethane.

So be careful and check the products you are using. Many of our household cleaning products contain toxic chemicals and can be one reason you or your family is getting sick.

The products that are advertised to help clean your body and your home and make it safer actually can be the products that are making you not feel good!

One example is asthma. People with asthma can have more frequent and more severe attacks when exposed to even low levels of formaldehyde. It can cause nose, ear and throat irritations and can be a cause of having a more frequent sore throat. Formaldehyde has been linked to several different cancers.

It will take some effort, but you can reduce the amount of toxins, including formaldehyde, that you come in contact with every day. Look at the products you are using and try to find a replacement that is researched and tested and found to actually be safe. There are products available that won't harm you, your family or the environment.

I am not sure if they are putting them in camping trailers yet but I will be looking next time we are ready to upgrade!

Environmentally conscious companies do exist.  And they do produce safe, natural products for your home and your body, inside and out.  The cleaning products not only don’t contain formaldehyde, but they also make sure there is no toxic ingredient contained in there products:

  • no napthalene
  • no kerosene
  • no formaldehyde
  • no phenol
  • no creosol
  • no lye
  • no hydrocholoric acid
  • no sulfuric acid
  • no petroleum distillates
  • no benzene
  • no ammonia
  • no paradichlorobenzene
  • no sodium hydroxide
  • no butyl cellosolve
  • no phosphoric acid
  • no chlorine
  • no phosphates
  • no nitrates
  • no borates
  • no animal testing
  • but definitely biodegradable!

You only have one life – take control and you can achieve a healthy life and help create a healthy planet.

You might not have had a choice on the materials they built your home with, but you do have a choice on the products you use to clean it!

Learn more about safe nontoxic cleaners

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