Many people have a basic understanding of formaldehyde. Ask a middle school student and you'll get an answer of, ""embalming fluid" for the frog they just dissected in Ms. Smith's biology class.
"I vividly remember my own poor frog. The entire room reeked of formaldehyde -- or its sister product, formalin. I went home early that day. The nurse sent me home with a headache. My eyes watered, my throat stung, my nose burned. As I cried in the nurses office and complained of my headache, I was accused of being soft-hearted. Poor young girl... crying over the death of a frog. Obviously, she couldn't stand the thought of his death and begged off by faking illness so she could be exempt from the horrific proceedings. Well, guess what? I didn't care about the frog. My illusions of him being a prince trapped in a frog's body were long gone -- a thing of elementary school girl dreams. I was, however, truly sick. But no one believed me. Now, almost thirty years later, science is on my side. We KNOW those are the side effects of formaldehyde."
-Amanda Uribe, YL Diamond
So, what exactly is it? Well, the definition is: a naturally-occurring organic compound with the formula CH2O. It is the simplest aldehyde and is also known by its systematic name methanal. The common name of this substance comes from its similarity and relation to formic acid.
But what does that tell us? Hmmmmm.... to go back to the thought that even organic substances can kill you and the word organic means nothing... it is an overused marketing ploy of the 21st century. Organic means of the earth. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. We should stop being slaves to coined terms and go back to the basic principle of just because it came from the earth, and therefore considered "organic" and "natural" doesn't mean we should consume it.
Formaldehyde is in a vast majority of products, and even if it isn't, it can actually become a byproduct of chemical reactions within a product. Once again, we are confronted with the horrific thought that regardless of labeling (and who are we kidding here with wasting paper and ink on labels which have no meaning), we just aren't sure if it is in the product or not.
We have to ask ourselves though... formaldehyde IS LISTED as a KNOWN HUMAN CARCINOGEN by the government. Hundreds of studies and documents exist about its severe toxicity... yet, not only is it accepted that it is in our cleaners and products, but we don't even think twice about sending our child to school to dissect the creature steeped in formaldehyde. If workers in formaldehyde factories wear hazmat suits and breathing equipment, why do we trap our children in a room with a closed door and windows and allow them to not only breathe in the fumes for days on end, but to actually touch the frog? The CDC lists treatment for breathing exposure as, "seek fresh air and, if needed, artificial respiration" and treatment for skin contact as, "flush skin with water repeatedly to rinse toxin" in their safety sheets. Seriously? We are going to allow this in our homes and around our children? Not mine.