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The World Health Organization has classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has additionally stated that formaldehyde is a sensitizing agent causing an immune response, highly irritating the eyes, nose and throat, and causing asthma-like respiratory problems and dermatitis over long-term exposure.

Contact with formaldehyde can also irritate the eyes, nose and throat.

8 current policies in 4 states
4 adopted policies in 3 states
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  • Adopted Policies
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Formaldehyde In Our Lives

Formaldehyde is used to make fabric wrinkle-free, as a preservative in personal care products, as a disinfectant and as an ingredient in adhesives and binders used in paper, textiles, plywood and building materials. In 2010, 29 million metric tons of formaldehyde were produced and sold worldwide for industrial use. In the same year, 20 million pounds were released from U.S. industry as waste into the environment. The chemical also occurs naturally in small amounts, and is a component of burning fuel: chimneys, smokestacks, tailpipes and cigarette smoke.

Formaldehyde In Our Bodies

In addition to formaldehyde pollution from industry and fuel combustion, products that contain formaldehyde can also release the chemical. Workers in many industries, from factories to beauty salons to health care, experience higher exposures to formaldehyde. People are also exposed to formaldehyde when they breathe it in or absorb it from the products we use on our faces, our hair — including, as testing has revealed, products marketed specifically to children.

Progress to Protect Health

Minnesota has led the charge, with first-in-the-nation legislation banning formaldehyde from children's products. The international community has also taken action, and the markets are listening as well:

Johnson and Johnson phased the chemical out of their “No More Tears” shampoo.

Formaldehyde use has been restricted in personal care products by the European Union, and banned entirely from cosmetics and toiletries in Japan and Sweden.

In the U.S. formaldehyde emissions in plywood are now restricted, following the lead of state-level standards established by the California Air Resources Board.

Learn More About Formaldehyde in Everyday Products

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Women’s Voices for the Earth

Bill Tracker for Formaldehyde

Current Policy

Adopted Policy