Skip to main content

Formaldehyde: Industrial Health and Safety

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN HL17390, tabled on 23 July 2019

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of occupational exposure limits and maximum exposure limits for formaldehyde in the UK being higher than those of France, Germany and several other European member states.

Answered on

5 August 2019

The EU has recently reviewed the occupational exposure limit value for formaldehyde, and in the Phase 3 amendment to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive 2004/37/EC, introduced a new binding occupational exposure limit value (BOELV) of 0.3ppm, which came into force on 11 July 2019. The current GB work place exposure limit (WEL) is 2ppm.

Member States have two years to transpose the new BOELV (i.e. by 11 July 2021). Because of differences in cultural practices; cost of embalming and greater capacity in the facilities available; and the limited use of embalming in other Members States, the UK negotiated an additional 3-year transitional period (until July 2024) for the funeral and embalming sector, during which time an interim BOELV of 0.5ppm will apply. This is to allow the UK funeral and embalming sector to comply with the Directive without incurring disproportionate costs.

The Health and Safety Executive is currently working to implement the revised exposure limits for formaldehyde.