EPA continues risk assessment on formaldehyde, NFDA works to support funeral profession


It’s inevitable that regulations by government agencies are necessary in a civilized society.  Sometimes, however, when you own and operate a business it seems like you don’t want to take a step in any direction simply because you think that step may be against some type of regulation.  At least, that’s the way that I felt at times.


Most of us are aware that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been reviewing the “Funeral Rule” to decide if it is still relevant and/or if there needs to be changes.  The FTC is far enough along in that process, that while we know they are still taking comments, we also know that the rule will probably stay with some modifications, including online pricing being mandatory.


But, how many of you knew that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was conducting a risk assessment of formaldehyde in the workplace?  And, of course, formaldehyde is a valuable ingredient in our work as funeral professionals.


The EPA is is the middle of a risk assessment that will last until probably 2025 before decisions are made about formaldehyde in the workplace. . . which I assume encompasses a number of occupations, that would obviously include funeral directors and morticians.


In any regard, because of a lack of data in the mortuary business concerning formaldehyde, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) commissioned a new study on formaldehyde exposure in the embalming process.  The study was very extensive and resulted in the data being published in a peer reviewed scientific journal last summer.


You can learn about that study that was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene here.


In short, here is what the NFDA says in a press release about the study, ”

“The results of this study. . . present a stark contrast to existing scientific data and show that the level of exposure to formaldehyde for funeral directors and embalmers is less than current permissible exposure limits.

Our (NFDA) study found that the mean task-exposure concentration of formaldehyde during an active embalming was 0.68 ppm. This falls below the current permissible eight-hour exposure limit of 0.75 ppm and is far less than the short-term exposure limit of 2 ppm. 

The new data that NFDA shared with the EPA in its comments demonstrate that trained funeral service professionals can effectively manage their exposure to formaldehyde and use it safely and responsibly. “


In a recent communication with members on December 23, which you can read here, NFDA assures members that they will continue to engage with the EPA on this important issue.


Related:  Here is the June 2022 press release from NFDA announcing publication in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene of the NFDA sponsored formaldehyde study.


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