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Data: Robust

Formaldehyde Solution (Formalin)

Other Concerns

Use restrictions (high), Non-reproductive organ system toxicity (high), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs) (low), and Occupational hazards (high)

SYNONYMS

FORMALDEHYDE SOLUTION (FORMALIN) and METHYLENE GLYCOL

Unacceptable

Unacceptable: EWG VERIFIED products cannot contain this ingredient


Formalin is a solution of water, formaldehyde, and methanol.

Common concerns

See how this product scores for common concerns.

  • HIGH
    Cancer
  • MODERATE
    Allergies & Immunotoxicity
  • LOW
    Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity
  • HIGH
    Use Restrictions

Ingredient concerns

  • CONCERNS
  • DATA SOURCES

Products with this Ingredient

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Use restrictions

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Violation of government restrictions - Banned or found unsafe for use in cosmeticsJapan's Standards for Cosmetics
Violation of industry recommendations - Restricted in cosmetics; use, concentration, or manufacturing restrictions - Not safe for use in products intended to be aerosolized, according to industry safety panel (Cosmetic Ingredient Review, CIR)Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments
Restricted in cosmetics (recommendations or requirements) - use, concentration, or manufacturing restrictions - Use is restricted in Canadian cosmeticsCanada - Prohibited and Restricted Cosmetics Ingredients
Recommendation to minimize use in cosmetics - Keep concentration to minimum: warning from industry safety panelCosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments
Determined safe for use in cosmetics, subject to concentration or use limitations - Safe for use in cosmetics with some qualificationsCosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments

Cancer

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Known human carcinogenInt'l Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - Carcinogens
Known human carcinogenNTP Report on Carcinogens, 11th Edition
Possible human carcinogenEPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)
Possible human carcinogenCalifornia EPA Proposition 65
Possible human carcinogenAmer Conf of Gov't Industrial Hygienists - Carcinogens
Limited evidence of carcinogenicityCPS&Q - Classification & Labelling
Limited evidence of carcinogenicityNIOSH Occupational Carcinogens

Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Known human respiratory toxicantEPA Hazardous Air Pollutants
Classified as toxic or harmfulCPS&Q - Classification & Labelling
One or more animal studies show classified as toxic effects at low dosesEPA Categorized List of Inert Pesticide Ingredients
Limited evidence of respiratory toxicityNational Library of Medicine HazMap
Limited evidence of sense organ toxicityScorecard.org Toxicity Information
One or more animal studies show classified as toxic effects at moderate doses (low dose studies may be unavailable for this ingredient)EPA Toxic Release Inventory PBTs

Occupational hazards

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Allowed workplace exposures restricted to low dosesCPS&Q - Classification & Labelling

Allergies/immunotoxicity

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Human immune and respiratory toxicant or allergen - strong evidenceAssociation of Occupational and Environmental Clinics
Human skin toxicant or allergen - strong evidenceCosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments
Limited evidence of immune system toxicity or allergiesCPS&Q - Classification & Labelling
Limited evidence of immune system toxicity or allergiesScorecard.org Toxicity Information
Limited evidence of immune system toxicity or allergiesNational Library of Medicine HazMap

Developmental/reproductive toxicity

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Limited evidence of reproductive toxicityScorecard.org Toxicity Information

Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Limited evidence of skin irritationNational Library of Medicine HazMap

Miscellaneous

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Occupational hazards related to handlingCPS&Q - Classification & Labelling

Data gaps

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Risk assessment method deficiencies and data gaps - Maximum reported "as used" concentration is basis of safety assessment by industry safety panel (Cosmetic Ingredient Review, CIR) - implicit safe concentration limit in productCosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments
19 studies in PubMed science library may include information on the toxicity of this chemicalNLM PubMed

Multiple, additive exposure sources

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Designated as safe for general or specific, limited use in foodFDA Everything Added to Food
Designated as safe for general or specific, limited use in foodFDA Food Additive Status

Informational

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Industry or government recommendations for safe use: restrictions on concentration, impurities, product types, or manufacturing methods - Not safe for use in products intended to be aerosolized, according to industry safety panel (Cosmetic Ingredient Review, CIR)Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments
  • Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. 2006. Standards for Cosmetics. Evaluation and Licensing Division. Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau.
  • CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review). 2006. CIR Compendium, containing abstracts, discussions, and conclusions of CIR cosmetic ingredient safety assessments. Washington DC.
  • Health Canada. 2007. List of Prohibited and Restricted Cosmetic Ingredients. Canada's Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. March 2007.
  • IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). 2008. Overall Evaluations of Carcinogenicity to Humans, as evaluated in IARC Monographs Volumes 1-99 (a total of 935 agents, mixtures and exposures).
  • NTP (National Toxicology Program). 2005. Report on Carcinogens, Eleventh Edition; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program.
  • EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2008. Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Evidence for human carcinogenicity based on 1986-2005 guidelines.
  • California EPA (California Environmental Protection Agency). 9/2008. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Chemicals known to the State to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.
  • ACGIH (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists) 2008. ACGIH cancer classification system. www.acgih.org.
  • CPS&Q (Consumer Products Safety & Quality) formely known as ECB (European Chemicals Bureau). 2008. Classification and Labelling: Chemicals: Annex VI of Directive 67/548/EEC through the 31st ATP.
  • NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). 2006. NIOSH Carcinogens List (Potential occupational carcinogens). http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npotocca.html.
  • EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2005. Office of Air. The 112(b)1 Hazardous Air Pollutants List (as modified). Last modified: 12 Dec 2005.
  • EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1987 & 2005. Office of Pesticide Programs. Inert (other) Pesticide Ingredients in Pesticide Products - Categorized List of Inert (other) Pesticide Ingredients.
  • NLM (National Library of Medicine). 2006. HazMap — Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Agents.
  • ED (Environmental Defense). 2006. Scorecard _ The Pollution Information Site. http://www.scorecard.org.
  • EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1999. Toxics Release Inventory Program. PBT Chemical Rule.
  • AOEC (Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics). 2009. AEOC exposures codes and asthmagen designation.
  • NLM (National Library of Medicine). 2012. PubMed online scientific bibliography data. http://www.pubmed.gov.
  • FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 2008. EAFUS [Everything Added to Food]: A Food Additive Database. FDA Office of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
  • FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) 2006. Food Additive Status List. Downloaded from http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/%7Edms/opa-appa.html, Oct 16, 2006.

Understanding scores

Cosmetics and personal care products are not required to be tested for safety before being allowed on the market. The Skin Deep® scoring system was designed to help the public understand whether a product is safe to use or whether it contains ingredients of concern.

Every product and ingredient in Skin Deep gets a two-part score – one for hazard and one for data availability. The safest products score well by both measures, with a low hazard rating and a fair or better data availability rating.

HOW WE DETERMINE SCORES

Hazard score

The Skin Deep ingredient hazard score, from 1 to 10, reflects known and suspected hazards linked to the ingredients. The EWG VERIFIED™ mark means a product meets EWG’s strictest criteria for transparency and health.

Score legend

Data availability

The Skin Deep data availability rating reflects the number of scientific studies about the product or ingredient in the published scientific literature.

NONE LIMITED FAIR GOOD ROBUST
Low Availability
Moderate Availability
High Availability

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