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 from Debra Lynn Dadd

After making a comment in a recent post about not using paper towels because they contain formaldehyde, I received this shocked email from a long-time reader


I can’t believe that I have been trying to be as toxic free as possible for many, many years and I am still using paper towels daily! Your website as had lots of information through the years about paper towels, including your comments regarding Cathy’s question on August 11 about non-toxic lining for drawers.

I contacted Bounty (Procter&Gamble) and this is the list of ingredients sent me. What do you think?

You can post that information if you think it would be beneficial to others in you Q&A section.

Thank you very much.

Thanks for contacting Bounty, Stephanie.

Below is the ingredients for the Bounty Towels & Napkins

Processed Wood Pulp Used to make paper from softwood trees
(Pine & Spruce) and hardwood trees (Oak/maple.)
In NA we use virgin wood pulp. Our products don’t contain recycled fibers
Wet Strength Polymer Added to increase strength during wet use.
Adhesive Hold pliestogether Present in trace amounts
(special type of glue)
Ceteareth-10 Surfactant emulsifier

We do not intentionally add formaldehyde to our products, and we check that our raw materials do not contain any formaldehyde either.

Since we don’t add or use formaldehyde in the processing of the product, we don’t test for it in the finished product.

It may be helpful to know that formaldehyde is a naturally occurring substance, and can be detected in wood pulp at very low concentrations

Hope this helps.

Bounty Team

Need to get back in touch? Please do not change the subject line, just hit reply. This makes sure we receive your message

At first glance this paper towel seems to not contain formaldehyde, however, it does contain “Wet Strength Polymer.”

What is that?

According to Paper Functional Chemicals- Wet Strength Resinspapers such as filter papers, hygienic papers, papers for bags, label papers, wallpapers, laminate base papers, and packaging papers for moist goods can only fulfill their function if they have adequate “wet strength” (the ability to hold together when exposed to water.

The way wet strength is achieved is by using wet-strenth resins (WSR).

“the most common WSR are urea formaldehyde resins (UF-resins) and melamine formaldehyde resins (MF-resins), These chemicals need acid pH conditions and the presence of alum in the papermaking process. For neutral pH conditions polyamide-epichlorohydrin resins (PAE-resins) are mainly used (e. g. for hygiene and laminate papers); polyethylenimine products are used for specialty papers such as industrial filter papers and shoe board.”

This article notes that urea-formaldehyde resins are the least expensive (so likely to be most common). They can be added to the wet mix, “but they can be also used via surface application in the paper machine.” That means the resin is lying right on the surface of the paper.

I don’t know enough about the chemistry of how this works to make an evaluation of how these chemicals interact with the cellulose. I do know that chemicals can react and turn into something else entirely, such as fat and lye make soap.

I also don’t know how much, if any, formaldehyde emissions come from paper, but they are well-known from urea-formaldehyde foam insulation and composite wood products. I first heard about formaldehyde in paper towels years ago from people with MCS who reacted to paper towels.

Click through to the article if you want to learn more about what is used to make paper. This is an industry website with lots of information.

Read more here about Toxins in Toilet Paper.

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