Guest Post: 5 Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to Formaldehyde
One of the toxic chemicals that is known for it’s strong smell is Formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is a colorless but strong-smelling chemical used to manufacture household products and building materials.
Other uses of formaldehyde are as a preservative in mortuaries, industrial disinfectant, and paper coating products.
What makes it toxic and what are its adverse effects on our health?
Let’s find out.
The Dangers of Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde poses danger to health in a number of ways. Its presence in the air exceeding 0.1 parts per million can cause watery eyes, burning sensation in the throat, nose, and eyes, nausea, coughing, and skin irritation.
While formaldehyde may cause serious health conditions in some people, it might not affect others as such at the same level of exposure.
Formaldehyde is also thought of as a potential carcinogen. In November 2016 the Obama Administration categorized it as a carcinogen.
Reports by the International Agency for Research on Cancer have warned about formaldehyde being a cause of leukemia in animals and nasal cancer in humans.
It is also believed that a range of beauty care products that are frequently used by women, by men to a lesser extent, and children, contains eight ingredients that constitute of formaldehyde. These break down after being absorbed into the skin and release formaldehyde, posing a risk of skin cancer.
How to Be Safe
Formaldehyde may be present in a number of things we use daily in varying quantities, and your exposure to it may slowly be causing your health to deteriorate.
Some common products that contain this toxic chemical are furniture, hair care products, plastic grocery bags, skin creams with quarternarium-15, paint, nail polish, curtains, clothes, cigarette smoke, cleaning products, children’s bath products, bed mattresses, and foam insulation.
It is also a natural byproduct of combustion, which means your unventilated gas stove and kerosene space heaters also pose risk.
While you cannot stop using these products, you can limit the exposure by doing the following:
Open Your Windows
If you’re like me you remember your mom opening the windows for fresh air. That’s actually very wise. Keeping our home closed tight can result in accumulation of many toxic substances. If it’s a nice day be sure to open your window and let the fresh in.
Don’t Let Your Home Get Too Hot
Have you ever walked into a house that had been closed tight with no air conditioning in the summer? Could you smell the carpet smell? Or how about your new car after it sits in the heat all day? That smell is called off-gassing. High temperature and humidity cause chemicals (good and bad) to be emitted into the air. The best thing to do when entering a home or car that has been shut up for a while is to open the windows and let it air out.
Use Non-Toxic Cleaners In Your Home
Instead of using commercial home cleaners try finding less toxic cleaners. Sometimes we can breathe in toxins and not even know we are. It’s better not to take the chance with your health. Especially if you let your kids clean like I do.
Keep Indoor Plants
Plants naturally filter the air of toxins. I have plants in my kitchen and bedrooms. My favorite house plants are Ivy’s because they are easy to keep alive. Ferns and chrysanthemums are especially good in a new house for removing formaldehyde in the air from new carpet.
Wash New Curtains and Clothing
Wash anything that can be washed before you use it. If you can’t wash it let it sit out in the hot sun for the day. Allow the chemicals to off-gas.
Consider What Your Baby Sleeps On
When my girls were babies I learned about the toxins in the mattress. Yikes. I was a little freaked out for a few weeks until I learned about an easy solution. Mattress Wrapping. I highly suggest you read about this product and do some research. It’s an easy fix.
Ten years ago I couldn’t get it on Amazon and they were about $60 but now only $23. Yes, the bed may be a little plastic sounding when you lay your baby down but babies don’t care. Mine never even noticed.
Consider What You Sleep On
Since I learned about the off-gassing of the baby mattress, that led me to researching my mattress. Yikes. Of course, traditional mattresses off-gas, too.
I spent many hours researching organic beds for my girls to move into after their cribs. I ended up getting a “green ” mattress that wasn’t totally organic but it was what I could afford at the time. I added a layer of protection by purchasing a mattress cover that prevents off-gassing and dust mites.
Do What You Can but Don’t Stress
Taking these measured steps can help reduce your exposure of formaldehyde and reduce your chances of getting sick by it. Remember, sometimes we won’t feel the effect of toxins until they have had a chance to accumulate in our body.
I always recommend nutritional cleansing and detoxing on a regular basis to help your body naturally release the toxins we are exposed to.
Do what you can to reduce toxins but don’t stress about it. The last thing you need to add is stress to your life. Just be proactive and make little tweaks every day.
About the Author: As a mother of 2, Stacy Russell started her journey to reduce toxins when her daughters were born 11 years ago. The information she learned to help her family live less toxic she now shares on her website. Read more of her work at Alesstoxiclife.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Pinterest.