Real and Apparent Danger
There is a real and apparent danger in Singapore.
Toxins in dish-washing detergent?
I WOULD like to ask why dish-washing liquid detergents do not carry ingredient labels. This is perhaps an oversight since such detergents leave traces on utensils, even after washing.
The danger is even more apparent in foodcourts where mass-washed utensils are coated with unknown ingredients.
Recently, there were reports about the danger of methylisothiazolinone, a neurotoxin that is found increasingly in shampoos, except some old, trusted brands. Methylisothiazolinone is possibly found in dish-washing detergent, especially those that tout 'anti-bacteria' formula since methylisothiazolinone is also a biocide.
Likewise, can the authorities clarify why formaldehyde is found increasingly in shampoos? The dangers of formaldehyde are already known, such as autism, eyesight degeneration and high carcinogenic effect on contact with water molecules. In addition, there are no standards as to how much formaldehyde is added to shampoo since it is considered a non-food item. But the danger is real and apparent.
angry doc won't address the first part of Mr Yee's letter, since he too does not want detergent in his food. But the second part of the letter gets to him.
Formaldehyde is a widely used form of preservative. No doubt it can be fatal when ingested, and causes irritation of the eyes and skin when in vapour form (angry doc had personal experience of that back in medical school, he does - ah, sweet, gross anatomy!). But is it as dangerous as Mr Yee described?
Does formaldehyde cause eyesight degeneration? Well, yes, if it is splashed into your eye or injected into an eyeball.
Does it have high carcinogenic effect? Well, yes, it has been shown to cause some forms of cancers in mice, but it has not been shown to cause more cancers in people who are exposed to it at work (and who presumably use shampoo when they are off work).
Does it cause autism? angry doc couldn't find any evidence for that.
Mr Yee has given misleading information about the dangers of formaldehyde in the first part of that paragraph, but the penultimate sentence in that paragraph is simply untrure.
Shampoos are classified as cosmetic products, and come under the purview of the Cosmetics Control Unit of the Health Products Regulation Group of the Health Sciences Authority. The amount of formaldehyde permitted in shampoos is regulated by the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, at the concentration of no more than 0.2%. Shampoos manufactured by Unilever contain formaldehyde of 0.04%. There is no evidence that at that concentration, application of formaldehyde to the skin for short durations causes any of the harmful effects Mr Yee mentioned.
Formaldehyde is a toxin in the commonly used sense of the word, but to say that shampoos can cause cancers, eyesight degeneration and autism, and that the authorities are not doing anything about it is dishonest and irresponsible.
The fact is information about regulations on the amount of formaldehyde permitted in shampoos and the dangers of formaldehyde is available on the internet if one would just search for them. Mr Yee had apparently not done so before sending in his alarmist letter, and the ST Forum editor has in angry doc's opinion lapsed in his duty by publishing it. This lack of editorial rigour is the real and apparent danger.