Like many substances, formaldehyde should be handled with care and the appropriate precautions should be taken when working with the substance in an industrial setting. Occupational exposure can occur in industries that use formaldehyde, including the manufacture of formaldehyde or formaldehyde-based resins. A wide array of safety measures can be implemented to limit exposure to formaldehyde process emissions and formacare recommends the highest level of protection in occupational settings, including the use of closed systems and high standard ventilation units.
As of 2019, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL) has recommended an Occupational Exposure Limit of 0.3ppm for 8H Time Weighted Average (TWA). A recommendation for an OEL could be derived since the substance is known to have a threshold mode of action. It is also aligned with the DNEL (Derived No Effect Level) developed by the lead registrant for the CSR and Extended Safety Data Sheets.
In 2018 the European Commission included formaldehyde in its proposal for a third amendment to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work) and following the ordinary legislative procedure, the European Parliament voted the CMD3 in March 2019. While Council vote is pending, the CMD3 brings a Binding Occupational Exposure Limit that through a harmonized regulation that is protective for the European workers and enables industry to strive in Europe. Following its transposition into national law, CMD3 will also facilitate the creation of a level playing field at European level for formaldehyde production.
CMD 3 will bring the following value as a maximum level for workers exposure in the EU:
- 0.3 ppm Time Weighted Average (TWA)
- 0.6 ppm Short-Term Exposure Limits (STEL)
As usual with the ordinary legislative procedure (formerly known as codecision), the law foresees 2 years of transition before the Member States should comply with the values. Users of formalin for embalming and medical purposes (such as anatomopathology) were granted an extra 3 years of transition period.
Formacare is committed to even tighter standards for workers safety. A voluntary agreement is under preparation to cut the transition period and make the 0,3ppm BOEL applicable immediately.