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A Consumer Safety Guide to Formaldehyde

25th of January, 2023

It is expected that the majority of people on the planet get exposed to dangerous chemicals on a daily basis. It has become normal in this day and age for manufacturers to pick the cheapest materials they can find to produce products for consumers to use with little to no regulations. For this reason, it is important for you to understand more about the type of things you are bringing home to you and your loved ones frequently. Formaldehyde is an example of a common type of dangerous chemical present in typical household products. In many industries, formaldehyde is used in its aqueous state of 37% – known as formalin- or in its pure gas form as a preservative. Known for its antibacterial properties and its rather convenient price, it is often used as a biocide in the manufacturing of various products such as cosmetics, personal care products, detergents, and others.

Health Concerns & Possible Risks

Several governmental institutions have concluded that formaldehyde is a carcinogen. In fact, there are clear links between exposure to formaldehyde and cancer formation. There are a lot of ongoing research projects trying to find the true dangers that come from using personal care products with formaldehyde used as a preservative. However, the general exposure to it has been linked for a fact with leukemia. Formaldehyde can cause irritation to the throat, eyes, and nose in lower concentrations. Being the sensitizing chemical that it is, exposure to low concentrations from different sources at once or exposure to a high concentration at once can cause some serious problems. It can be more present in children or elderly people who have asthma or any other lung condition.

In 2015, the American Contact Dermatitis Society declared formaldehyde to be the contact allergen of the year. A study published in the same year determined that almost 12% of the American population is allergic to formaldehyde. It also pointed out that people who use cosmetics or personal care products containing a low percentage of formaldehyde may start to experience sensitivity with time. Formaldehyde is widely used in day-to-day products like cosmetics, and can trigger skin reactions and rashes in its consumers.

Formaldehyde is also a hazardous material for employees in factories who are regularly exposed to high concentrations of this gas or liquid. A high concentration of formaldehyde can cause chemical burns to the skin. Prolonged exposure to the fumes can cause serious respiratory impairments, neuropsychological conditions like sleeping disorders, memory deficits, loss of concentration and more, and injuries to the kidneys.

The use of formaldehyde in detergents, cosmetics and personal care products is banned in some countries, like Sweden and Japan. In Europe, it is prohibited for products to contain a formaldehyde concentration of over 0.2%. And it is also a requirement for any concentration exceeding 0.05% to be stated on the product label.  Egypt is working to regulate the use of formaldehyde as a preservative in detergents and households, and plans to focus on cosmetics and personal care products next. We at ACTIVA International have eliminated the use of formaldehyde in our biocide products completely in the year 2023. This way, we ensure our clients are producing products that are ethically satisfying to consumer needs and safe.

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We're thrilled to announce that our team will be present at Detex 2024, the highly anticipated detergent event in the Middle East. As industry leaders in the field of preservatives, we're excited to showcase our latest innovations and connect with fellow experts, manufacturers, and enthusiasts in the field.
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