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Oct-04-2010 21:46printcomments

Formaldehyde Poisoning: It's Embalming Fluid
Yes, I'm a Toxicologist

The first known legal case was in Sequim, Washington.

Formaldehyde poisoning

(MOLALLA, Ore.) - I was astonished last Wednesday, September 29, 2010 to read such a story on the front page of the Oregonian about a new hair cosmetic called Brazilian Blowout. The hairdressers who were using it got severe respiratory irritation with coughing, headache and even nosebleeds. They were smart enough and concerned enough to call OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to voice their concern.

OHSA chemists found that the solutions contained up to 9.5% formaldehyde which is strong enough to be embalming fluid. It is very volatile and when it gets into the air and is inhaled it likely pickles and destroys the membranes in the nose, throat and windpipes. All of the symptoms mentioned above are typical and can cause long-term problems unless the victims get away from the fumes as soon as possible. I hope that this occurred for their sake.

This reminds me of several cases of formaldehyde poisoning several years ago in Oregon and Washington. The culprit at that time was ordinary plywood which was glued together by a phenol-formaldehyde glue. In some cases a bit too much of formaldehyde was in the glue and it out-gassed from the wood. The plywood was used extensively for house trailers or mobile homes which were very leak proof so they were in fact very tight leak proof boxes.

The first known legal case was in Sequim, Washington and the first expert witness for the poisoned plaintiffs was a soon to be notorious allergy specialist from Portland. His testimony for the poisoned patient won the case.

The strangest thing then occurred – the phenol-formaldehyde industry, the plywood industry and the mobile home industry hired him on a retainer basis to DEFEND them against these kind of legal cases. Only God knows how much he was paid and how many formaldehyde poisoned patients he destroyed. Many of the mobile home builders went bankrupt.

In some of his cases, his testimony was that although formaldehyde was only slightly harmful, the poisoned patients probably had allergies to their wife’s cosmetics. He became a very well known and wealthy expert witness.

He was asked in one of his later court appearances, “have you ever found in favor of the poisoned patient?” “Never” he said! This just about did him in but he had a protégé who continued in the same vein till he also was “found out”.

After Hurricane Katrina the U.S. Government bought thousands of house trailers for the storm victims made with formaldehyde poisoned plywood. They were so toxic that the tenants could only stay in them with doors and windows open.

Now the U.S. Government owns thousands of mobile homes which are too toxic to live in.


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