Bottles with poison.

The use of two toxic substances – styrene and formaldehyde – is causing numerous health complications. It is no big secret that Formaldehyde is a very dangerous substance – the mere vapor content, when exposed to the atmosphere has been found to be very risky for the environment. Normally this is only cause for concern for those of us that embalm corpses professionally; most of the preserving agents used contain formaldehyde or are entirely composed of formaldehyde. However, in the pat year there has been some relatively widespread concern (surprisingly within the government structure) of whether or not the general public is exposed to TOO much formaldehyde, potentially causing many more cases of cancer that could have been avoided otherwise.

The government science team employed has discovered the highly carcinogenic substance to be found virtually everywhere – specifically in mass produced particle board and plywood, which in most cases are found as the cheapest building resource available. The cancer-causing vapor can also be found within mortuaries, and even within hair salons. Some hair care products were found to have a ridiculous amount of them, scientists claimed, and that many of the workers within have reported headaches, vomiting, nosebleeds, and in some cases asthma attacks when working with the variety of hair care products.

Styrene too has also been found to show signs of cancerous effects: workers in manufacturing plants have a very high risk of developing styrene-inflicted cancer when working with the substance. Styrene is used in boat making, bathtubs, and conventionally in Styrofoam cups and plates as well. While the highest exposure of styrene occurs in factories, consumers should also be wary of the use of this substance to create products. Both formaldehyde and styrene have each been against the wall, but lobbyists for large chemical manufacturers continue to suppress the information from reaching the public ear.

Studies have suggested that workers exposed to high levels of styrene are at an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma, and genetic damage to white blood cells. The report also says that there is evidence that styrene increases the risks of cancer of the pancreas and esophagus among exposed workers.

While the workers are at a vastly higher exposure rate to both chemicals, the public is also similarly exposed to it. Consumers can be exposed to styrene from photocopiers, tobacco smoke, and fumes of building materials. Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, says:

“It’s the smell in new houses, and it’s in cosmetics like nail polish… All a reasonable person can do is manage their exposure and decrease it to as little as possible. It’s everywhere.”

Even with this seemingly ever present danger, he also stated that the amount of styrene found may be negligible, but should always be of concern. What is irking about the knowledge of these industrial products’ effects is that many officials claim that spreading it would be essentially ‘bad for businesses’; of course, it would be bad for business if word got out that they were producing materials that are highly toxic. The whole ploy of the industry was that the evidence is uncertain at best: Most scientists would agree that the bottom line is that we simply shouldn’t put off this crucial information any longer.

Additional Sources:

NYTimes

Cancer.gov

LATimes

PubMed


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