Formaldehyde is Carcinogenic? No way!

500px-Formaldehyde-2D.svgOf course, I’m being sarcastic in the title.

Formaldehyde is that awful smelling agent used as embalming liquid, as a preservative fixer in medical labs (that clear liquid in big glass jars in bio labs), in fabric finishes, in bath and beauty products and in particle board furniture. I know firsthand this chemical is unsafe.

I had a miscarriage while taking Anatomy and Physiology class with Lab in Chiropractic school. I had to dissect cadavers and the smell of formaldehyde always “made” my mornings. A month after the class started, I had a miscarriage and my classmates and I attributed it to my exposure to formaldehyde that is generally used to preserve cadavers.

And after a year of mysterious myriad of symptoms, my mom discovered that she was allergic to formaldehyde, probably acquired after working in the garment industry for thirty years.

So, yeah, formaldehyde is bad news. I didn’t need this news to be convinced of that. But as all chemicals that are meant to be banned or classified as harmful or carcinogenic, the government has to perform all sorts research, answer to the industry’s lobbying groups, and conduct public commenting sessions.

And finally, on Friday June 10, after years of chemical indsutry’s lobbying efforts, Department of Health and Human Services added formaldehyde, and a botanical known as aristolochic acids, to the category known to be  human carcinogen. Six other substances, including captafol, cobalt-tungsten carbide: powders and hard metals, certain glass wool fibers (inhalable), o-nitrotoluene, riddelliine, and styrene, are listed in the list, “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

Read more about this warning on Green Living Ideas.

{Top Photo} Wikipedia

NOTE: The information in this post is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Dr. Karen disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. Opinions and statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. The information is for general consumer understanding and education, and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I am not your doctor and you should consult with a qualified health care professional on any matter relating to their health and well being on one-on-one basis with thorough physical examination. Dr. Karen encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. Products Dr. Karen recommends and their properties have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using the products. For more info, visit the Disclaimer page.

Lori Popkewitz Alper
Lori Popkewitz Alper

Why is our system so backwards? It is beyond frustrating. I am amazed and shocked that it has taken so long to classify something so clearly toxic as "known to be human carcinogen". Thanks for sharing the news Karen.


  1. […] Choose Wood Carefully – Wooden toys are classic but if they are treated with petrochemical sealants they can be toxic for little mouths to chew on. Look for wood treated with non-toxic finishes like beeswax or linseed oil instead. Choose solid wood over composite wood that use toxic carcinogen formaldehyde. […]