Formaldehyde

May 1994
Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations (IDLH)

CAS number: 50–00–0

NIOSH REL: 0.016 ppm TWA, 0.1 ppm 15-minute CEILING; NIOSH considers formaldehyde to be a potential occupational carcinogen as defined by the OSHA carcinogen policy [29 CFR 1990].

Current OSHA PEL: 0.75 ppm TWA, 2 ppm STEL

1989 OSHA PEL: Same as current PEL

1993-1994 ACGIH TLV: 0.3 ppm (0.37 mg/m3) CEILING, A2

Description of Substance: Nearly colorless gas with a pungent, suffocating odor.

LEL: . . 7.0% (10% LEL, 7,000 ppm)

Original (SCP) IDLH: 30 ppm

Basis for original (SCP) IDLH: Patty [1963] reported that “exposure to 10 to 20 ppm produces almost immediate eye irritation and a sharp burning sensation of the nose and throat which may be associated with sneezing, difficulty in taking a deep breath, and coughing; recovery is prompt from these transient effects [Kodak 1936-1960].” Because Patty [1963] also reported that “it has been estimated that exposure for 5 to 10 minutes to 50 to 100 ppm might cause serious injury to the lower respiratory passages in man [Kodak 1936-1960],” 30 ppm seems reasonable as the IDLH.

Short-term exposure guidelines: None developed

ACUTE TOXICITY DATA

Lethal concentration data:

Species Reference LC50(ppm) LCLo(ppm) Time Adjusted 0.5-hrLC (CF) Derivedvalue
MouseCat

Rat

Izmerov et al. 1982Izmerov et al. 1982

Skog 1950

333—–

815

—–333

—–

2 hr2 hr

30 min

533 ppm (1.6)533 ppm (1.6)

815 ppm (1.0)

53 ppm53 ppm

81 ppm

 

Other animal data: RD50 (mouse), 3.13 ppm [Alarie 1981].

Human data: It has been reported that exposure to 10 to 20 ppm produces almost immediate eye irritation and a sharp burning sensation of the nose and throat which may be associated with sneezing, difficulty in taking a deep breath, and coughing; recovery is prompt from these transient effects [Kodak 1936-1960]. It has been estimated that exposure for 5 to 10 minutes to 50 to 100 ppm might cause serious injury to the lower respiratory passages [Kodak 1936-1960]. The following exposure-effect data has also been reported: most subjects experience irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat at 1 to 3 ppm; many subjects cannot tolerate prolonged exposures to 4 to 5 ppm; and difficulty in breathing was experienced at 10 to 20 ppm [IARC 1982]. In a summary of health effects data, upper airway irritation and increased nasal airway resistance were reported at 0.1 to 25 ppm and lower airway and chronic pulmonary obstruction at 5 to 30 ppm [NRC 1981].

 

REFERENCES:

1. Alarie Y [1981]. Dose-response analysis in animal studies: prediction of human responses. Environ Health Perspect 42:9-13.

2. IARC [1982]. IARC monographs on the evaluation of the carcinogenic risk of chemicals to humans. Vol. 29. Some industrial chemicals and dyestuffs. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer, pp. 345-389.

3. Izmerov NF, Sanotsky IV, Sidorov KK [1982]. Toxicometric parameters of industrial toxic chemicals under single exposure. Moscow, Russia: Centre of International Projects, GKNT, p. 69.

4. Kodak [1936-1960]. Personal observations. Rochester, NY: Eastman Kodak Company, Laboratory of Industrial Medicine. [From Patty FA, ed. [1963]. Industrial hygiene and toxicology. 2nd rev. ed. Vol. II. Toxicology. New York, NY: Interscience Publishers, Inc., p. 1971.]

5. NRC [1981]. Health effects of formaldehyde. In: Formaldehyde and other aldehydes. Chapter 7. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Aldehydes, Board on Toxicology and Environmental Health Hazards.

6. Patty FA, ed. [1963]. Industrial hygiene and toxicology. 2nd rev. ed. Vol. II. Toxicology. New York, NY: Interscience Publishers, Inc., p. 1971.

7. Skog E [1950]. A toxicological investigation of lower aliphatic aldehydes. I. Toxicity of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, propionaldehyde and butyraldehyde; as well as acrolein and crotonaldehyde. Acta Pharmacol Toxicol 6(4):299-318.

Page last reviewed: December 4, 2014