This news update discussing Formaldehyde Baby Shampoo is brought to you by Slate.
It happens to me, too. When the word comes up out of context, I think first of dead things. The frogs and fetal pigs I dissected in seventh grade, open-casket funeral viewings … the word formaldehyde quickly conjures up eerie images.
Formaldehyde is often paired with another ominous term—cancer. So perhaps it’s not surprising that people freak out a bit when they hear that formaldehyde is in baby shampoo, hand lotion, or vaccines. The Environmental Working Group raised concerns several years ago about a formaldehyde-releasing preservative called quaternium-15 in Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo and other personal care products. The company sprang into action, promising to introduce reformulated products without the preservative by the end of 2013. And deliver it did.
But did it really need to? Before we dig into that question, keep two thoughts in mind. First, high enough doses of inhaled formaldehyde can cause cancer, leadingOSHA and the EPA to set limits for safe exposures
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