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EWG to review formaldehyde releasers

Date posted: 2012-12-03

The Environmental Working Group has launched an investigation of ingredients added to cleaning products in order to release formaldehyde. Manufacturers of cleaners compound their products with these chemicals knowing they will break down in a gradual time-release manner to generate small amounts of formaldehyde that serve as a preservative to retard the growth of bacteria.

This industry practice may pose health risks for consumers.

The U.S. government and World Health Organization classify inhaled formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen. Skin contact with formaldehyde may cause an allergic reaction. Formaldehyde is a skin sensitizer: repeated exposures increase the chance of having an allergic reaction.

People daily encounter background levels of airborne formaldehyde from vehicle exhaust fumes and other air pollutants. Still, we believe it is prudent for consumers to avoid additional exposure to formaldehyde via cleaning products and personal care items because there is no known safe level of the chemical.

Cleaning product manufacturers can switch to other preservative methods that do not rely on formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals.

While we take a close look at the human health risks posed by the presence of these chemicals in cleaning products, we continue to advise consumers to read labels carefully and seek out products free of formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing substances.

The formaldehyde releasers found in many cleaning products include:

  • DMDM hydantoin (trade name Glydant)
  • Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol)
  • Quaternium-15
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Hydroxymethylglycinate
  • Hexahydro-1,3,5-tris (2-hydroxyethyl)-S-triazine (trade name Grotan)

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EWG provides information on cleaning product ingredients from the published scientific... continue reading →
EWG provides information on cleaning product ingredients from published scientific literature, to supplement incomplete data available from companies and the government. The ratings indicate the relative level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in this product - not the product itself - compared to other product formulations. The ratings reflect potential health hazards but do not account for the level of exposure or individual susceptibility, factors that determine actual health risks, if any. (Hide)
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