EPA's draft evaluation of formaldehyde sparks concerns in feed industry

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently presented its preliminary risk evaluation for formaldehyde, a chemical compound found naturally and in various consumer products, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This draft has triggered apprehension within the feed industry regarding potential regulatory consequences and implications for animal health.    

Formaldehyde has been recognized by EPA as a substance that may pose risks to human health. The draft evaluation, currently available for public input and peer examination, highlights the potential respiratory issues, sensory irritation, reproductive toxicity, and cancer risks associated with high levels of formaldehyde exposure through inhalation or skin contact. Furthermore, the draft underscores the environmental implications of formaldehyde, as it can be found in water, sediment, and soil.    

The evaluation has raised significant concerns within the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) regarding its potential consequences for the feed industry. Leah Wilkinson, Vice President of Public Policy and Education at AFIA, emphasized the pivotal role that formaldehyde has played in upholding animal food safety over the past four decades. AFIA, supported by other animal agriculture groups, is strongly opposing the EPA's proposed regulations, mainly due to fear of potential limitations or prohibitions on formaldehyde usage, that could have serious impacts on the industry.    

The Formaldehyde Panel of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) stands in agreement with AFIA's perspective, shedding light on several drawbacks associated with the EPA's evaluation. These include notable deficiencies within the peer review process and concerns regarding the feasibility of suggested workplace limits. Additionally, they emphasize the critical role that formaldehyde plays across diverse industries and caution against the potential disruption of manufacturing processes and downstream applications that could arise from excessively strict regulations.    

In order to gather feedback from stakeholders regarding the proposed regulatory measures, the EPA has initiated a 60-day period for public comments. Simultaneously, the Agency's Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) will thoroughly examine the evaluation, with a virtual public meeting scheduled for May 20-23, 2024. The EPA aims to integrate the insights gathered from both the public comments and the SACC review into the final risk evaluation, ensuring a comprehensive and well-informed assessment.    

As the public comment period begins, it is essential for all stakeholders to actively participate in providing feedback to the EPA. This engagement will help shape the final risk evaluation and ensure that any regulatory measures implemented regarding formaldehyde strike a balance between protecting human health and supporting the feed industry's ability to provide safe and nutritious animal food.