February 26, 2007

Quebec OHS institute publishes formaldehyde exposure prevention guide, sectoral fact sheets

Quebec's Robert Sauvé Institute for Research on Occupational Health and Safety (IRSST), in Montreal, has published a practical guide to the risks associated with formaldehyde exposure and on preventive measures for avoiding exposure. The guide is accompanied by sector-specific technical fact sheets targeting the wood panel manufacturing, wood furniture manufacturing and embalming industries.

The prevention guide includes information on the risks associated with formaldehyde exposure, regulations, measurement strategies, exposure control, and--for nine of the main sectors using formaldehyde--exposure data, emission sources, and the most effective means of preventing exposure.

The three sectoral fact sheets are divided into four sections covering health risks and effects, emission sources and hazardous tasks, improvement measures, and personal protective equipment.

The prevention guide and fact sheets represent a summary of the IRSST's research work on formaldehyde exposure risks and prevention. In Quebec alone, it is estimated that some 150,000 workers are potentially exposed to formaldehyde. Health effects vary mainly with the duration of exposure and the product's concentration.

In response to a request from the provincial workplace health and safety commission (CSST), the IRSST conducted a three-year study to evaluate the economic and health impacts of lowering the provincial exposure limit for formaldehyde. As part of this work, the Institute established a multidisciplinary team of about ten scientists who documented the exposure of workers in 31 activity sectors in Quebec. The study led to the publication of a report and 12 appendices, ten of which relate to specific economic activity sectors.

The prevention guide and the three fact sheets can be downloaded free from the IRSST's Web site as follows: Formaldehyde in the workplace: Prevention guide--www.irsst.qc.ca/files/documents/pubIRSST/RG-473.pdf; Exposure to formaldehyde in the workplace - Wood panel manufacturing, Fact sheet--www.irsst.qc.ca/files/documents/pubIRSST/RG1-473.pdf; Exposure to formaldehyde in the workplace - Wood furniture manufacturing: Fact sheet--www.irsst.qc.ca/files/documents/pubIRSST/RG2-473.pdf; Exposure to formaldehyde in the workplace - Embalming, Fact sheet--www.irsst.qc.ca/files/documents/pubIRSST/RG4-473.pdf.

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