Formaldehyde

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Formaldehyde is now classified as H350 (may cause cancer), and therefore subject to "Special requirements for carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic to reproduction chemicals and certain activities" (38 § 44 §) in AFS 2014: 43.

One requirement is that a documented evaluation have to be conducted to find out if it is possible to use a less harmful product instead.

Formaldehyde is a carcinogen

Formaldehyde/formalin (all concentrations) are according to CLP classified as H350 (formerly H351) and are therefore covered by the specific requirements of CMR-classified chemicals, which are described in § 38 to § 44 of AFS 2014: 43 (in Swedish only). 

Investigation

Before work with formaldehyde begins a documented investigation have to be conducted to find out if it is possible to use a less dangerous substance instead (§ 39 of AFS 2014: 43). A form for this purpose is found under Documents. The investigation/decision is preferably stored with the written risk assessment.

Risk assessment

Before handling of formaldehyde starts it is important follow handling instructions and to conduct risk assessments. The result of the risk assessment should show that there is no risk of dangerous exposure in the handling (§ 10 and § 40 in AFS 2014:43). Examples of actions to take to limit the exposure is to work in specially adapted and laboratories, to handle formaldehyde in a ventilated workplace (hood) and to use the right kind of laboratory gloves (standard and materials is often specified in the products safety data sheets).

All staff at the workplace mus be informed that formaldehyde is handled in the premises. If there are pregnant and nursing employees in the workplace it is crucial to perform a special risk assessment which takes this in to account (§ 3 to § 7 of AFS 2007: 5, in Swedish only).

Allergic reactions

Formaldehyde is also classified as H317 (may cause an allergic skin reaction) and are therefore covered by "Special requirements for allergenic chemicals and some processes" (37 a § 37 g §) in AFS 2014: 43, for example, requirements regarding risk assessment, signs, information and medical examinations (if the risk assessment shows that it is justified, see list of substances in  AFS 2011:18 and 3 § in AFS 2005:6).

Waste management

Formaldehyde is handled as chemical waste. However, small volumes of diluted formaldehyde may be poured into drains if necessary, even though the substance is carcinogenic. What is allowed to be poured down the drain is developed in agreement with the city management and the water treatment plant and depends on the capacity at the water treatment plant and not so much on how dangerous the substance is.

However, if formaldehyde is disposed in the sink it must be stated in the risk assessment that there is no risk of hazardous exposure to anyone in the workplace. Is there a risk of exposure a register must be organized (§ 41 of AFS 2014: 43).

Read more aboute laboratory waste.

Contact:

Coordinator

Ulrika Hallgren

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 866 79
Organizational unit: Miljö och säkerhet
E-mail: ulrika.hallgren@ki.se

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