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Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

Risk Evaluation for Formaldehyde

EPA designated formaldehyde as a High-Priority Substance in December 2019 and the chemical is currently undergoing risk evaluation.

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Background on Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas at room temperature and has a strong odor. Information from the 2016 Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) for formaldehyde indicates that the reported production volume is between 1 billion and 5 billion lbs/year (manufacture and import).

Conditions of Use of Formaldehyde

In the final scope, EPA identified conditions of use associated with the importing; processing; distribution in commerce; industrial, commercial and consumer uses; and disposal of formaldehyde, for example:

  • Adhesive and sealants;
  • Pesticides and agricultural chemicals;
  • Lawn and garden products;
  • Personal care products;
  • Plastic materials;
  • Resins, glues, and binders;
  • Paper manufacturing;
  • Various petrochemical processes and products;
  • Wood product manufacturing; and
  • Textiles, apparel, and leather.

The above listed conditions of use are ways that a person or the environment could be potentially exposed to this chemical. However, when conducting a risk evaluation, EPA also considers the hazards (i.e. health effects or environmental impacts) that could occur from coming in contact with a chemical.

Recent Activities and Opportunities for Public Comment

In August 2020, EPA published a final scope document outlining the hazards, exposures, conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations the agency expects to consider in its risk evaluation. The agency released the draft scope in April 2020 and took public comments on the draft document.

As EPA continues to move through the risk evaluation process there will be additional opportunities for public comment, including a public comment period on the draft risk evaluation. In addition to public comment periods, EPA will continue to engage with stakeholders as it refines the risk evaluation and stakeholders should reach out to EPA via the staff contact to engage with the agency.