March 21, 2024

EPA Releases Draft Risk Evaluation for Formaldehyde

EPA has released a draft risk evaluation for formaldehyde that “preliminarily” determines the chemical presents an unreasonable risk of injury to human health. But the agency states that uncertainties in its findings indicate that the draft evaluation’s estimates of risk may not represent real-life exposures. The uncertainties stem from exposures to naturally occurring formaldehyde and to other sources not covered in the draft document. Following a public comment period and peer review, the document will be revised and finalized, according to EPA.

The draft is confined to considerations stemming from risks of formaldehyde exposure that are subject to the Toxic Substances Control Act. Other exposures, such as from pesticides, are not regulated by TSCA and therefore were not considered in the draft.

Workers are the population most at risk from formaldehyde exposures, EPA finds, including from inhalation and dermal routes. The draft risk evaluation considers workplace exposures without assuming that workers are wearing personal protective equipment although EPA acknowledges that many employers take action to protect their employees.

Consumers who use certain products containing formaldehyde represent another at-risk population. Exposures to formaldehyde can result from use of car waxes, crafting supplies, and fabrics treated with the chemical. Other potential exposures are from furniture and other products in homes, particularly in newer buildings, which release higher levels of formaldehyde.

A virtual public meeting on the draft risk evaluation will be held May 7, and comments are due May 14. Information about how to participate in the public meeting and submit comments is available in the Federal Register. For background information and additional documents, visit the EPA website.