Internationally Known Scientist, Doug Schoon Challenges Oregon OSHA's Misleading Claims that "Methylene Glycol" is a Synonym for "Formaldehyde"

Molecular Models: Formaldehyde and Methylene Glycol (Graphic: Business Wire)

DANA POINT, Calif.--()--Research scientist Doug Schoon, is denouncing Oregon OSHA’s claim to measure "Formaldehyde" in water-based cosmetics such as lotion or creams and certain nail products or hair products, such as shampoos, conditioners and hair straightening products, when in fact they are measuring and reporting concentrations of a completely different substance called "Methylene Glycol."

“This is both misleading and causing confusion in many areas including medical and environmental research,” said Schoon, a leading authority in the cosmetic, beauty and personal care industry. “OSHA should lead the way and clear up this long standing confusion, not continue to propagate myths which started in the early 1900’s when manufacturers mistakenly believed that Formaldehyde simply dissolved when added to water.”

Leading chemists agree that Methylene Glycol and Formaldehyde are very different, both chemically and physically. Methylene Glycol is a liquid; Formaldehyde is a gas. Formaldehyde does not dissolve in water, but instead instantly reacts with the water to change into the completely new and difference substance Methylene Glycol. Yet Oregon OSHA has recently declared that these are "synonyms" even though these two substances have very different chemical compositions and belong to different chemical families, the Aldehyde vs. Alcohols*.

Schoon says Oregon OSHA tries to justify its confusing Methylene Glycol with Formaldehyde by quoting "regulations;" but the regulations are contrary to the scientific facts and their scientists know it.

In 1972, both Methylene Glycol and Formaldehyde were assigned different CAS registry numbers indicating the American Chemical Society also believes these are different and unique chemical substances.

“It is unfortunate that this world-wide misunderstanding continues to propagate confusion and mislead medical, environmental and other scientific researchers around the world,” said Schoon. “Confusion between these two chemicals is wrongly affecting important scientific research and correcting this error is long overdue. Scientific researchers and others should be educated to the facts; Methylene Glycol and Formaldehyde are NOT the same chemical substance.”

Schoon goes on to say, “I have considerable respect for OSHA and very much appreciate the great work they do to improve worker safety. Even so, OSHA should correct the regulations to be consistent with scientific facts. They should consider Methylene Glycol and Formaldehyde as two unique and individual substances, measure them as such and individually report their concentrations using correct chemical names.”

*Glycols belong to the Alcohol family of chemical substances

Additional Supporting Information:


FORMALDEHYDE - anhydrous gas

Formula- CH2O

Chemical Family – Aldehyde
CAS 50-00-0
EINECS 200-001-8
INCI Name – Formaldehyde


Formula- CH4O2

Chemical Family - Glycol
CAS 463-57-0
EINECS 207-339-5
INCI Name – Methylene Glycol

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Schoon Scientific
Doug Schoon, M.S. Chemistry


Schoon Scientific
Doug Schoon, M.S. Chemistry