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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Formalin (formaldehyde) in food and the health risk (cancer)

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What is formalin or formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is quickly broken down in the air – generally within hours. It dissolves easily in water, but does not last long there, either. When dissolved in water it is called formalin, which is commonly used as an industrial disinfectant, and as a preservative in funeral homes and medical labs. It can also be used as a preservative in some foods and in products, such as antiseptics, medicines, and cosmetics. Sometimes, although formaldehyde is not used, substances that release formaldehyde are. These have been found in cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, lotions and sunscreens, and cleaning products.

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in making building materials and many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials. It is also used to make other chemicals.

Formaldehyde is a toxic material that can kill bacteria and viruses as well as damage human cells. Food manufacturers sometimes add Formaldehyde to foods such as fish, meats, milk, noodles meats, etc to extend its shelf-life. Many ordinary foods naturally contain small amounts of Formaldehyde however, excess Formaldehyde has been reported in many foods. 

Although adding formaldehyde to foods is forbidden in many countries, some manufacturers still add it in particular if the food is expected to stay unrefrigerated for a while. Consumers of foods need to know if they contain excessive and dangerous amounts of formaldehyde. Inspectors of food need to know if formaldehyde was added purposely and illegally to the food.

Excess exposure to formaldehyde is known to increase the possibilty of cancer and also cause breathing difficulties. Women in the early stages of pregnancy are also highly sucectible to exposure to Formaldehyde, as it is suspected to cause birth defects and other complications with early child development.

Can formaldehyde cause cancer?

Exposure to formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory test animals. Exposure to relatively high amounts of formaldehyde in medical and occupational settings has been linked to some types of cancer in humans, but the effect of exposure to small amounts is less clear.
  1. Studies in the lab - In rats, inhaled formaldehyde was linked to cancers of the nasal cavity and leukemia. In one study of rats given drinking water containing formaldehyde there was an increase in stomach tumors, while another showed no increase in any kind of tumor or cancer. In mice, applying a 10% solution of formaldehyde to the skin was linked to quicker development of cancers caused by another chemical.
  2. Studies in people - (1) In one study, inhaling formaldehyde at levels at a concentration of 1.9 parts per million (ppm) for 40 minutes did not increase blood levels of formaldehyde. (2) Several epidemiology studies of people exposed to formaldehyde in the workplace have reported a link between formaldehyde exposure and cancer of the nasopharynx (the uppermost part of the throat), but this outcome has not been observed in other studies. These studies looked at workers in occupational setting that use or make formaldehyde and formaldehyde resins, as well as at people who work as embalmers. (3) Studies of people exposed to formaldehyde in the workplace have also found a possible link to cancer of the nasal sinuses. (4) Several studies have found that embalmers and medical professionals that use formaldehyde have an increased risk of leukemia, particularly myeloid leukemia. Some studies of industrial workers exposed to formaldehyde have also found increased risks of leukemia, but not all studies have shown an increased risk. (5) Studies looking at the link between workplace exposure to formaldehyde and other types of cancer have not found a consistent link. (6) One study found that workers exposed to formaldehyde had higher than normal levels of chromosome changes in early white blood cells in their bone marrow. This finding supports the possible link between formaldehyde exposure and leukemia.

What expert agencies say?

Several agencies (national and international) study different substances in the environment to determine if they can cause cancer. (A substance that causes cancer or helps cancer grow is called a carcinogen.) The American Cancer Society looks to these organizations to evaluate the risks based on evidence from laboratory, animal, and human research studies.

Based on the available evidence, some of these expert agencies have evaluated the cancer-causing potential of formaldehyde.
  1. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is formed from parts of several different US government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The NTP lists formaldehyde as "known to be a human carcinogen."
  2. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). Its major goal is to identify causes of cancer. IARC has concluded that formaldehyde is "carcinogenic to humans" based on higher risks of nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia.
  3. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), an electronic database that contains information on human health effects from exposure to various substances in the environment. The EPA has classified formaldehyde as a "probable human carcinogen."
  4. National Cancer Institute researchers have concluded that, based on data from studies in people and from lab research, exposure to formaldehyde may cause leukemia, particularly myeloid leukemia, in humans.

How to control the use of formalin (formaldehyde) in food?

Some problems related to the use of formalin (formaldehyde) are include the chemical testing only can be done in the laboratory. It took a long time and specialized laboratory expertise to do. But now some ease has been offered for several rapid test products for formalin (formaldehyde) already on the market. Some rapid test products for formalin (formaldehyde) on the market are formalin (formaldehyde) rapid test products form Aquamerck (Germany) and formalin (formaldehyde) rapid test products form Easy Test Kit (Indonesia)

The use of rapid test of formalin (formaldehyde) will further facilitate the monitoring of the use of formalin (formaldehyde) in food products or beverages because it only takes a minute and does not require laboratory expertise to use these products.

This page concern to food sciences, nutrition and additives topics. The information provides thorough and up-to-date information, covering a broad range of topics in the food science and technology. Topics covered include: Food industry, food groups and composition, food chemistry, food processing and preservation, food laws and regulations, food microbiology and fermentation, food safety, food toxicology, food biotechnology, sensory evaluation, and food product development.

OTHERS INFO: A lot of information about Easy Test Kit Product can you read detail at Easy Test Kit Website and a lot of information on the use of formalin (formaldehyde) in food or beverages in Indonesia (including some other hazardous materials) can read details on THIS BLOG.

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