Consumer inhalation exposure to formaldehyde from the use of personal care products/cosmetics

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2012 Jun;63(1):171-6. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2012.02.011. Epub 2012 Mar 3.


We measured consumer exposure to formaldehyde (FA) from personal care products (PCP) containing FA-releasing preservatives. Six study subjects applied facial moisturiser, foundation, shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, hair conditioner, hair styling gel or body lotion at the 90th percentile amount of EU PCP consumer use. FA air concentrations were measured in the empty room, in the presence of study subjects prior to PCP use, and for one hour (breathing zone, area monitoring) after PCP use. The mean FA air concentration in the empty bathroom was 1.32 ± 0.67 μg/m³, in the presence of subjects it was 2.33 ± 0.86 μg/m³). Except for body lotion and hair conditioner (6.2 ± 0.1.9 or 4.5 ± 0.1.5 μg/m³, respectively), mean 1-h FA air concentrations after PCP use were similar to background. Peak FA air concentrations, ranging from baseline values (2.2 μg/m³; shower gel) to 11.5 μg/m³ (body lotion), occurred during 0-5 to 5-10 min after PCP use. Despite of exaggerated exposure conditions, FA air levels were a fraction of those considered to be safe (120 μg/m³), occurring in indoor air (22-124 μg/m³) or expired human breath (1.4-87 μg/m³). Overall, our data yielded evidence that inhalation of FA from the use of PCP containing FA-releasers poses no risk to human health.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Cosmetics / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Formaldehyde / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants
  • Cosmetics
  • Formaldehyde