When I recently moved and was on the market for some new furniture, I nearly interrogated my sales associate as I navigated my way through maples and oaks. I wanted to make sure that the affordable end table I'd be purchasing didn't contain formaldehyde, a chemical found in pressed wood products like particleboard, hardwood plywood paneling, and medium density fiberboard that are used in many cabinets, dressers, and end tables. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the chemical can cause eyes and throat irritation, nausea, rashes, difficulty in breathing, and other severe allergic reactions. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and is a suspected human carcinogen. What does this have to do with my nail polish remover, you ask? While I left the furniture store empty-handed, riddled with concerns that the cheap end table would have pricey repercussions, I returned to my half-furnished apartment only to discover that my (what I once thought to be harmless), nail polish remover contained the very chemical I was so adamant about avoiding. Based on their pungent odors, it should come as no surprise that many nail polish removers and nail polishes contain formaldehyde. But it is shocking that companies would put this chemical not only in furniture but in products you apply to your body. Other beauty products also contain the chemical, often going undercover as preservatives with names like DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, and diazolidinyl urea, which release formaldehyde as they degrade. Luckily, I have found a great nontoxic alternative to formaldehyde-containing nail polish remover: PeaceKeeper Eco-Easy Nail Polish Remover.
The product contains only five ingredients, ethyl lactate (sourced from sugar beets), glycerin, water, spearmint leaf, and rosemary. While I had to scrub a little bit harder than I've grown accustomed to with that toxic stuff, I was surprised at how effective it actually was in removing the chipped polish from my nails. I even spilled some of the bottle and found that rather than stinking up my entire apartment and making my eyes water, it just released a mild herbal scent and easily rubbed out of my jeans. And not only does the company make great products like the nail polish remover but it also gives all of its after-tax, distributable profits to women’s health advocacy and urgent human rights issues.
I finally did come across a suitable end table. It just took a little longer than finding my new favorite nail polish remover.