John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Health risk assessment of formaldehyde in France Volume 11, issue 1, Janvier-Février 2012

CSTB/Université Paris-Est 84, avenue Jean Jaurès 77447 Champs-sur-Marne cedex 02 France, InVS 12, rue du Val d’Osne 94415 Saint-Maurice cedex  France, Anses 27-31, avenue du Général Leclerc 94701 Maisons-Alfort cedex France, EDF Délégation Groupe Santé Sécurité Service des études médicales 45, rue Kléber 92300 Levallois-Perret France

A health risk assessment linked to the inhalation of formaldehyde by the general population in France was conducted according to the standardized four-step process of risk assessment: hazard identification, dose-response assessment, exposure assessment and risk characterization. The originality of this work consisted in assessing both acute exposure during or after using household products, and chronic exposure through exposure situations in various, regularly frequented places. The quantitative risk assessment was conducted on the basis of toxicity reference values (TRVs) for acute and chronic exposure and a range of hazard quotients (HQ) was calculated in both contexts. For almost all of the consumer products, tested in normal conditions of use, acute inhaled formaldehyde concentrations are lower than the TRVs calculated to protect against ocular and nasal irritation. However, for three domestic products, acute TRVs are reached or exceeded, and exposures are thus capable of causing ocular and nasal irritation. Regarding chronic exposure, the time spent in the home leads to inhaled concentrations exceeding the chronic TRVs protecting against long-term ocular and nasal irritation. The dose-effect relationship does not indicate the occurrence of other non-carcinogenic effects, even for the highest inhaled concentrations and for the worst case scenario. It appears that the highest inhaled concentrations are at only one tenth of the levels for which irritations might trigger nasopharyngeal cancer.