Formaldehyde is a Group 1 human carcinogen. Search at Toxnet Toxicology Data Network. In the past, exposure to the populace was often linked to its presence in glues and binders used in furniture and paneling, although it is also found in shampoo, conditioners, and water-based paints. Search at Household Products Database.
An August 2010 study by GAO has shown that it is also present in a range of clothing and household products which are treated with a resin in order to keep them "wrinkle-free"; the resin releases formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is commonly found in a broad range of consumer products, including sheets, pillow cases, drapes, upholstery, shampoos, lotions, and eye shadow. The United States does not regulate formaldehyde levels in clothing, most of which is now made overseas. Nor does any government agency require manufacturers to disclose the use of the chemical on labels. However, in California, it does come within Proposition 65's warning requirements if certain exposure criteria are exceeded.
Most of the 180 items tested, largely clothes and bed linens, had low or undetectable levels of formaldehyde that met the voluntary industry guidelines based on standards in Japan, which are among the most stringent. However, about 5.5% of the items exceeded the most stringent standards of 75 ppm, for products that touch the skin. Levels must be undetectable, or less than 20 ppm for children under 3 years, and can be as high as 300 ppm for products like outerwear that do not come into direct contact with the skin. Some of the highest levels were found in men's no-iron shirts.
EPA is in the process of developing emission standards for pressed wood products. See http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/e77fdd4f5afd88a3852576b3005a604f/1428c8203841ad17852577c100560350!OpenDocument.
The August 2010 GAO report can be found at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-875.
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