April 25, 2024

Latest EPA Draft Risk Assessment Addresses Formaldehyde as Pesticide

On April 19, EPA issued a draft risk assessment of pesticidal uses of formaldehyde and paraformaldehyde that are registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The uses considered in the draft risk assessment could result in inhalation, dermal, or oral exposures to formaldehyde for members of the public, workers, and bystanders.

Among the inhalation exposures the agency assessed were those from household cleaners, mildewcides used in vacation homes, fumigants used in agricultural spaces, and sterilizers used in laboratories. EPA also assessed dermal and oral exposures from laundry detergents and household cleaners. A final use discussed in the draft risk assessment concerns the use of formaldehyde to control nematodes, insects, and fungus on ornamental flower bulbs in Washington state.

“Because formaldehyde comes from many sources, people are routinely exposed to formaldehyde in indoor and outdoor environments, often from more than one source at a time,” EPA states in a press release. “Inhaling formaldehyde for longer periods of time can damage the lungs and increase risk of developing asthma and allergy-related conditions, sensory irritation, reproductive toxicity, and cancer. Skin contact with products containing formaldehyde can also cause allergic reactions.”

The draft risk assessment is available from Regulations.gov. Comments are due by June 10 and may be submitted through the regulatory docket.

The agency’s assessment of formaldehyde as a pesticide is occurring simultaneously with a review of formaldehyde under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Feedback from public comments on the TSCA draft risk evaluation will inform EPA’s final risk assessment for FIFRA uses, according to the agency.