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Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Releasers

What is it? Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling gas used in pressed wood products like particleboard, furniture, and cabinets. It can be added directly to personal care products like shampoo and liquid soaps or it can be released over time in small amounts from certain preservatives in the product.

Health concerns: Formaldehyde is linked to cancer and considered a known human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program[1] and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)[2]. The gas has also been linked to short-term health impacts including irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, and allergic skin reactions and skin rashes.

High-Risk Pesticides

What are they? High-Risk Pesticides are chemicals registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that are intended to repel, destroy, or mitigate pests.[3] In everyday products, they’re found in bug repellent, disinfectant cleaners and hand soaps, and residues in non-organic produce.

Health concerns: Cancer rates in children are up 25% since 1975 according to  Pesticide Action Network[4], which has taken a very clear stand relating this to the increase in use of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. The American Academy of Pediatrics points to pesticide residue in food[5] as the most critical route of exposure, which luckily, is one we have some control over.

Flame Retardants

What are they? Flame retardants are chemicals added to slow the flammability of products during a fire. However, studies are showing that these chemicals, which are common in bedding, car seats, and foam baby products like nursing pillows and nap mats, don’t actually slow fires and aren’t necessary.[6]

Health concerns: Flame retardants appear immediately in the bloodstream and urine, and are linked to long-term impacts[7] like endocrine disruption, lower IQ, ADD, fertility issues, thyroid levels and cancer.

Perchloroethylene (PERC)

What is it? Perchloroethylene (PERC) is the most common cleaning solvent used for dry cleaning. It gets trapped into clothing once “cleaned” and slowly off-gases[8] into your home.

Health concerns: It can harm the brain and central nervous system, damage the liver and kidneys, and is likely to cause cancer, according to the NRDC[9].


What are they? Nanoparticles refer to the miniscule size of an ingredient that can’t be seen by the naked eye. They’re commonly lurking in sunscreen, among other everyday products.

Health concerns: Nanoparticles in sunscreen have been found to cause severe damage to DNA, disrupt the function of our cells, and lead to cell death, according to a Friends of the Earth report[10].

[1] Report on Carcinogens, Formaldehyde National Toxicology Program, Department of Health and Human Services 14th edition
[2] IARC Classifies Formaldehyde as Carcinogenic to Humans, International Agency for Research on Cancer
[3] EPA Pesticide Registration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
[4] Pesticides 101, Pesticide Action Network
[5] Pesticide Exposure in Children, American Academy of Pediatrics
[6] Playing with Fire, Chicago Tribune
[7] Safe Kids Campaign, Green Science Policy Institute
[8] EPA risk assessment finds trichloroethylene (TCE) too toxic for use in dry-cleaners and hobby arts & crafts. Experts say to ban unsafe and unnecessary uses, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
[9] Toxic Chemicals, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
[10] Nanotechnology & Sunscreens, Friends of the Earth 

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