European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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2 December 2011

The ETUC wants Europe to classify formaldehyde as carcinogenic to humans

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has announced that it wants Europe to classify formaldehyde as carcinogenic to humans. The trade union organisation has adopted this position as part of a public internet consultation launched by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) at the end of October, due to run until mid-December.
In its response, the ETUC emphasises that this substance has been recognised since 2004 as being a definite carcinogen to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization. The ETUC also points out that formaldehyde appears on the trade unions’ list of substances that they want to see brought under the authorisation mechanism in REACH.
Formaldehyde is currently subject to harmonised European classification as a suspected carcinogen, according to the criteria in the 2008 European CLP regulation on the classification and labelling of chemicals.
If formaldehyde were recognised at European level as a proven carcinogen to humans, it would be subject to stricter regulatory measures, in particular the obligation to set up stronger prevention measures for occupational use and primarily its substitution wherever possible.
The consultation process launched by the ECHA follows the introduction by France, in September 2010, of a proposed modification to the classification of formaldehyde. Following this consultation, the ECHA will have to frame an opinion for the European Commission tasked with definitively deciding whether or not to modify the classification of the substance.
Formaldehyde is a major pollutant of indoor air, coming from insulating foams, carpet glue and wood glue. This substance is therefore present in many common construction and consumer products (furnishing, decoration, maintenance, etc.).

Sources : CES, ETUI,
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