I was watching “Stuff Happens” on Planet Green yesterday and Bill Nye was talking about insulation for your home. He mentioned that formaldehyde is in traditional fiber glass insulation and the “anti-green” issue with it is that after we’re through with it, it goes in a dump, thus reeking havoc on the environment. Two “greener” alternatives to fiberglass insulation were given. One was recycled blue jeans and the other was vegetables, believe it or not. There is now a vegetable oil polyurethane insulation foam where bubbles within it trap air. Both are amazing products.
What really struck me during this segment was a horrifying fact he gave about formaldehyde. Twenty years ago, two times the amount of formaldehyde was needed to embalm a body. Now, only half the amount is needed due to the fact that we have so much formaldehyde already in our body. Here are typical products that contain it:
- nail polish
- hair spray
- floor polish
- spray starch
According to Wikipedia, formaldehyde is “classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that there is “sufficient evidence” that occupational exposure to formaldehyde causes nasopharyngeal cancer in humans. Formaldehyde has been banned in cosmetics in both Sweden and Japan.”
Scary, isn’t it? Probably the simplest ways to reduce the amount of formaldehyde you come in contact with is to read the ingredients on all your personal care products, visit Skin Deep for safer ones, and use “greener” cleaning supplies. Remember, small changes over a long period of time can make a big difference.
UPDATE: December 1, 2008 – The EPA has announced that it will be looking into the health risks of formaldehyde in pressed wood products