Organizations object to EPA’s draft risk evaluation of formaldehyde

Chemical has been safely used in U.S. animal food industry for over 40 years via accurate automated equipment.

March 19, 2024

2 Min Read
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The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) is expressing concern about the Environmental Protection Agency’s release last Friday of its draft formaldehyde risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for public comment and peer review.

“The AFIA has strong concerns with the EPA’s draft risk evaluation of formaldehyde, which is one of the most well-studied chemicals in use today. The chemical has been safely used in the U.S. animal food industry for over 40 years via accurate automated equipment that significantly minimizes employee exposure as an effective way to control food safety pathogens in feed,” stated AFIA’s Vice President of Public Policy and Education Leah Wilkinson.

There is also emerging research that shows formaldehyde may be a very effective tool to mitigate the African swine fever (ASF) virus, but not if that tool is taken away from the animal food industry, she added. “The U.S. animal food industry must have access to this safe and effective tool.”

The AFIA has been working closely with other animal agriculture groups and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) to oppose EPA’s efforts to further regulate formaldehyde. The ACC’s Formaldehyde Panel said the EPA’s peer review on formaldehyde, to date, “has been limited and is insufficient to meet the scientific standards for a TSCA risk evaluation.”

“Over 40 years of scientific studies by universities and independent scientists have been used by U.S. government agencies and international regulatory bodies to establish a safe level of formaldehyde exposure. There are dozens of peer-reviewed publications that support the safe use of formaldehyde at current regulatory levels."

The panel is particularly concerned with components surrounding suggested workplace limits. “EPA’s suggested workplace limits are unworkable and ignore practices that are already in place to protect workers, including the use of personal protective equipment. They are 30 times below the recently updated European Union occupational limits of 300 parts per billion, lower than levels that can be detected, and below levels measured in ambient urban air and U.S. residences.”

Any assessment of formaldehyde must begin with the best available science and the fact that formaldehyde is an ever-present part of the natural world that, through decades of responsible innovation and regulation, has become essential to goods including contributing to a sustainable future for wood products, electric vehicles, lifesaving vaccines, and medical devices, the panel noted. “If EPA continues its current path, formaldehyde manufacturing and many of its downstream uses would be severely restricted or potentially banned in the U.S.”

The AFIA said it will continue to work with industry partners to oppose the EPA’s current path concerning the review of formaldehyde.

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