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khagihara
khagihara, Medical doctor
Category: Dermatology
Satisfied Customers: 6483
Experience:  Trained in the multiple medical fields for many years.
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What is the role of formaldehyde in the manufacture of

Customer Question

What is the role of formaldehyde in the manufacture of fabric (particularly fabric used for garments); what purpose does it serve; and is the amount of formaldehyde regulated-in the US or abroad?
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Dermatology
Expert:  khagihara replied 1 month ago.

For years the textile industry has been using finishes on fabric that prevents wrinkling – usually a formaldehyde resin. Fabrics are treated with urea-formaldehyde resins to give them all sorts of easy care properties such as:

  • Permanent press / durable press
  • Anti-cling, anti-static, anti-wrinkle, and anti-shrink (especially shrink proof wool)
  • Waterproofing and stain resistance (especially for suede and chamois)
  • Perspiration proof
  • Moth proof
  • Mildew resistant
  • Color-fast

Countries such as Austria, Finland, Germany, Norway, Netherlands and Japan have national legislation restricting the presence of formaldehyde in textile products. But in the United States, formaldehyde levels in fabric is not regulated.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Have there been studies on the impact on human skin and pysiology, or the dangers of human exposure to formaldehyde; and where can I reference the articles?
Expert:  khagihara replied 1 month ago.

Repeated exposure to even low levels of formaldehyde can create a condition called “sensitization” where the individual becomes very sensitive to the effects of formaldehyde and then even low levels of formaldehyde can cause an “allergic” reaction.

“New TSA Unifroms Trigger a Rash of Complaints (Formaldehyde)”, The Washington Post, January 5, 2009, Steve Vogel.

Berrens, L. etal., “Free formaldehyde in textiles in relation to formalin contact sensitivity” (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2133.1964.tb14488.x/abstract)