Formaldehyde could potentially be re-classified as a Category 1A CMR (Carcinogen); according to a CLH report released by ECHA on September 28th 2011.

The naturally occurring gas can be bought in bottles as a gaseous aqueous suspension (similar to hydrochloric acid). Up to 90% of total formaldehyde (abbreviated to FA in this communication) in the environment is thought to come from natural processes in the upper atmosphere. Humans metabolize FA quickly, so it does not accumulate, and is oxidised to the more harmless formic acid in the body.

• As a resin in wooden household furnishings e.g. stairs, flooring, shelving
• Clothing (to help bind dyes & pigments to fabrics and prevent wrinkling)
• Paints (FA-based glues help paint to adhere to surfaces)
• Cars & trucks manufacture, along with exhaust fumes
• Tobacco industry (present in cigarette smoke)
• Inks (newspapers, printing press, currency notes)
• Petroleum industry (they use FA-based resins in drilling operations – to increase oil & gas well yield and to improve service life)
• Sanitary paper products (to improve the tensile properties of paper both in wet and dry states) e.g. facial tissue, table napkins, kitchen roll
• Organic synthesis (of e.g. pentaerythritol tetraacrylate – which replaces polychlorobiphenyls and even fluorinated hydrocarbons as a dielectric fluid in transformers)
• As a disinfectant & biocide (it kills most bacteria & fungi, including their spores)
• As a fixative in microscopy & histology
• In embalming to disinfect and temporarily preserve human and animal remains

What does this mean?

The occupational exposure limit was 0.2 ppm – now it will be even less. Category 1 CMR’s are banned in cosmetics. Under Annex XVII of REACH (restrictions), they are banned in concentrations > 0.1 %.

Recommended steps to take – companies

• Look to see if you’ve any sources of FA
• Review your inventories, see if FA is present
• Do you have any articles that have FA as an intended release substance?