On April 19th, the Environmental Protection Agency published its draft risk assessment for the use of formaldehyde and paraformaldehyde under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

The draft risk assessment follows the periodic pesticide registration review of formaldehyde and paraformaldehyde to ensure “the pesticide can perform its intended function without unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment.

Formaldehyde is found in decaying organic matter, car exhaust, and burning wood. It is also commonly used in pesticides, cleaning products, adhesives, sealants, and plastics. As it comes from many sources, people are routinely exposed to formaldehyde.

The EPA reports varying exposure can have adverse effects on people’s health, including lung damage, heart problems, sensory irritation, reproductive toxicity, and cancer. Workers exposed to formaldehyde through agricultural, industrial, commercial car cleaners, and as preservatives in household products may be at more risk to health problems, based on how frequently the products are used and at what levels.

The FIFRA draft risk assessment is open to public comment via docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0739. Comments are due by June 18, 2024.