The U.S. government is warning consumers against two ingredients found in several common household products that may cause cancer.
Scientists have officially added formaldehyde to the list of cancer causing carcinogens, while styrene, found in disposable foam plastic cups and plates, may also be linked to cancer, but the risks are much lower since it is found in such small levels.
The chemicals were added to the government’s official Report on Carcinogens after several years of being disputed by the chemical industry, but the studies suggest employees working in manufacturing plants that use formaldehyde in products are more at risk.
Studies of workers, like embalmers, exposed to high levels of formaldehyde have found increased incidences of myeloid leukemia and rare cancers of the nasal passages and upper mouth.
Unfortunately, manufacturing employees aren't the only professionals at risk from the damaging effects of formaldehyde.
In April, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration warned hair-care product, Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, contained unacceptable levels of the chemical. Salon workers coming in contact with it have reported headaches, nosebleeds, burning eyes, vomiting and asthma attacks after using the product and other hair-straighteners!
Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, called formaldehyde both worrisome and inescapable, explaining:
“It’s the smell in new houses, and it’s in cosmetics like nail polish. All a reasonable person can do is manage their exposure and decrease it to as little as possible. It’s everywhere.”
Yikes! This stuff is no joke so do yourself a favor and stay clear of it!
Here's a tip. Reduce exposure by avoiding pressed-wood products or buying those only labeled as U.L.E.F. (ultra-low emitting formaldehyde), N.A.F. (no added formaldehyde), or C.A.R.B. (California Air Resources Board) Phase 1 or Phase 2 compliant.