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.
To ensure that emissions are kept to a safe level, many European Member States have developed occupational exposure limits (OELs) for formaldehyde, to provide manufacturers with guidelines to help them protect the health of their workers. These regulations are strictly adhered to within Europe, minimising any potential risk. While there is no uniform European occupational exposure limit for formaldehyde, the OEL levels in Europe are mostly in the range from 0.3 to 0.5 ppm.
The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL) is currently working on a recommendation for a scientific occupational exposure limit for formaldehyde. The process is based on a thorough evaluation of scientific evidence to determine a clear safety threshold for exposure to a substance in the workplace. In March 2008, the Commission published the SCOEL recommendation for formaldehyde:
The suggested limits for formaldehyde were not included in the 3rd list of indicative occupational exposure limit values, but will be reviewed again by the SCOEL in the light of recent studies. After the SCOEL has adopted its recommendation, the European Commission will then introduce it into relevant legislation (Directive 98/24/EC) as an indicative occupational exposure limit. The European indicative occupational exposure limit is to serve as a reference for national competent authorities to develop their legally binding occupational exposure limits.
Based on the most recent scientific research (see embedded presentation below), formacare supports an occupational exposure limit of: