Addressing Formaldehyde Risks: EU Commission Introduces Stricter Restrictions for Consumer Articles

Addressing Formaldehyde Risks: EU Commission Introduces Stricter Restrictions for Consumer Articles

The European Commission has taken a significant step in safeguarding public health and environmental well-being by adopting a new regulation.

On July 14, 2023, the Commission approved Regulation (EU) 2023/1464, which amends Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006. The focus of this regulation is to address the risks posed by formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers , which have been identified as highly reactive gases with potential health hazards.

Formaldehyde is widely used in various industries, particularly as a chemical intermediate in the production of formaldehyde-based resins and thermoplastics.

However, exposure to formaldehyde has been classified as a carcinogen, mutagen, and a skin irritant, making it a significant concern for public health and consumer safety.

The regulation was prompted by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which submitted an Annex XV dossier in 2019, highlighting the inadequacy of current controls over formaldehyde exposure in consumer articles placed on the market. The dossier revealed that formaldehyde-releasing substances could lead to concentrations exceeding safe levels in indoor air, posing health risks to individuals.

In response to the ECHA's findings, the Commission proposed to restrict the placing of formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing substances in consumer articles where the emissions lead to concentrations exceeding 0.124 mg/m3 in the air of a test chamber. Additionally, road vehicles and aircraft with formaldehyde levels exceeding 0.1 mg/m3 and potential consumer exposure should not be allowed on the market.

The Commission's decision was further informed by the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) and the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC), which provided valuable insights into the potential benefits and costs of implementing the proposed restrictions. After careful evaluation, the Commission arrived at an emission limit of 0.062 mg/m3 for furniture, wood-based articles, and complex products, and 0.080 mg/m3 for all other articles.

To allow for smooth implementation and to ease the burden on the affected industries, the Commission has decided on deferral periods of 36 months for most sectors, and 48 months for road vehicles. This extended time will enable stakeholders to adapt their practices and adhere to the new regulations effectively.

Certain products, such as articles for outdoor use and those exclusively for industrial or professional purposes, have been excluded from the scope of the restriction. Furthermore, second-hand articles, food contact materials, and certain other products already subject to specific regulations have also been exempted.

It is important to note that the Commission recognizes the higher costs associated with stricter emission limits. However, considering the potential health benefits, especially for vulnerable populations like children, the Commission believes that the stricter limits are justified.

As the regulation takes effect, it is essential for businesses and consumers alike to be aware of the changes and to adopt the necessary measures to comply with the new requirements.