Formaldehyde is an organic chemical compound often used with other chemical compounds as a base for polymers. Polymers are used in a wide variety of consumer products, from automobiles to building materials to health and beauty products. Formaldehyde has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a known human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). In litigation, plaintiffs have claimed that formaldehyde is associated with nasal sinus cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, and on occasion, leukemia. It has been banned in cosmetics in Sweden and Japan and is banned in certain applications in Europe under the Biocidal Products Directive. In the United States, while not banning formaldehyde outright, various governmental bodies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EPA, regulate the allowable amount of formaldehyde in consumer products and have been moving toward lower and lower allowable amounts.

Recently, formaldehyde has received more attention in the U.S. media than in the past several years for scares related to food from Indonesia and Vietnam, where formaldehyde solution was added to extend shelf life. There has also been increased focus on the presence of formaldehyde in health and beauty products produced for U.S. consumers, such as shampoo and soaps, including products formulated for use on infants and children, despite the conclusion by the FDA’s Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel that when formaldehyde makes up less than 0.2 percent of a cosmetic product applied to the skin, it is safe to the great majority of consumers.

Thompson Hine works to protect companies from potential liability in this area. We have deep, relevant experience in product liability and mass and toxic tort litigation that we can bring to bear to handle formaldehyde-related claims. Our unique focus on providing superior client service enables us to provide clients with customized and targeted representation in matters across the country. Further, we keep clients apprised regarding upcoming regulations related to formaldehyde and counsel on how to implement measures to avoid litigation.

Producers and compounders as well as various consumer products are affected including:

  • Food
  • Emissions
  • Household cleaners
  • Automobile manufacturing/parts
  • Home building supplies
  • Shampoos and lotions
  • Fabrics