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Formaldehyde Lurks, Solution Simple

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone and many of us braved the crowds in the real world and typed our way to sales in the virtual realm.

With over $900 million in gross sales on Cyber Monday alone, Americans are making their lists and checking them twice to jump-start the holiday season.

Items ranging from TVs, iPods, trampolines and the latest designer jeans flew off the shelves this past weekend.

Although these are all seemingly great presents meant to bring joy into the hearts of our loved ones, one Consumer Reports staffer warned that there may be an unwelcome menace lurking in brand new clothing. That menace is a substance called formaldehyde.

The staffer tells his story of experiencing headaches and a sore throat simply because he was too impatient to wash his new clothes before wearing them out. He offers a simple precautionary solution we should not take lightly.

From the Consumer Report:

“Substances like formaldehyde and many other allergenic compounds are used in fabrics for a variety of reasons, such as to help them resist wrinkles and shrinkage. Since just one wash can eliminate or reduce levels of a number of these substances (along with any wayward bug that might have come from the person who tried the shirt on before you!), it’s a good idea to wash new clothes that will be worn against the skin before you put them on.”

Formaldehyde isn’t a newly discovered substance and it certainly is not this country’s next epidemic. In fact, “Nearly everything in the plant and animal kingdoms makes formaldehyde at various levels through the complicated process of living. And what the complicated organisms produce, the simple creatures eat,” according to the Formaldehyde Council.

The U.S. doesn’t have regulations in place to monitor formaldehyde levels in consumer products but maybe we should.

The National Cancer Institute Reports on the link between formaldehyde and Cancer, stating that high doses of formaldehyde exposure may be linked to brain cancer, leukemia and upper respiratory problems.

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