Ubiquitous. Omnipresent. Universal.

I’ve heard people use these words to describe how they connect with a spiritual being in the universe or how they view God. However, if I told you that I’m using them to describe the presence of formaldehyde in our world, you might do a double take and raise your eyebrows…..wwwwhat??

Formaldehyde appears to be almost everywhere; it touches our skin – from lotions and cosmetics to toothpaste and bubble bath. It’s in baby wipes and sun block that we buy for our children, which I find to be horrifying. Many cleaning products we use in our homes contain it. In fact, manufacturers of cleaning products are not required to spell out the ingredients used in them, making it all the more tricky to decipher the code on their labels. My question is – are we cleaning and sanitizing or are we creating conditions that make us more at risk to sickness?

Reactions to any and all chemicals are becoming more common. In my research to become better informed, I came across a number of good resources – two of my top choices are shared below. A reaction to formaldehyde may be hard to isolate and so being on the lookout for all chemicals in products can help us move toward a toxic free life. Hope they help inform your journey too.

The US Dept of Health & Human Services lists health and safety information for commonly used products around the home on their website: householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov. Take a BIG gulp of coffee or chai before reading through the ever growing list of chemicals found in and around our homes. After looking it over, I’ve decided to look for “non-toxic to humans and aquatic life”, or “readily biodegradable”, or similar phrases in the descriptions on any new items I purchase from now on!

Green EarthMena Noll’s blog is called Toxic Free Kids (toxicfreekidsblog.org) and her personal story is inspiring. She questions if her clean freak habits actually caused or, if not, contributed greatly to her son’s illness. She has a Top Ten List of how to begin the process of detoxing that is straightforward, do-able and systematically addresses some of the basic areas in our lives and homes. And if you’re experiencing hard-to-pinpoint symptoms it’s a great start to remove toxins from the home environment.

Eliminating formaldehyde is not easy. And when feeling sick from its effects, it’s even tougher to identify what may be causing the problem. Obvious items?  Body products (me? I’d try Cetaphyl and Aveda), clothing (natural organic, or try washing everything you bring home first before wearing), and furniture (most fabrics and even bedding are sprayed with a formaldehyde based product, so washing is definitely helpful) – all require some form of trial and error, as we look to use and surround ourselves with the most inert products possible.

So, open the window or take a walk and get some fresh air, it’ll help clear your mind and hopefully dilute some of the effects of the chemicals we’re exposed to every single day.

For those of you who enjoy the more technical side, here are the chemicals that make up formaldehyde:

  • Imidazolidinyl urea (Germall 115)
  • Diazolidinyl urea (Germall II)
  • Quaternium 15 (Dowicil 200)
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol (Bronopol)
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Hexamethylenetetramine
  • Formaldehyde is also released from certain other chemicals such as Dowicil75, Tris Nitro, Grotan HD2 or BK, Triadine-10, Onyxide 200, Vancide TH, Myacide BT.

— Debbie Hindman