UNC Research Study Confirms Safe Levels of Exposure for Formaldehyde1

Research from the University of North Carolina (UNC) adds to the growing body of science that demonstrates there are safe levels of formaldehyde inhalation exposure that do not cause any health effects. Typical household concentrations are between 16 and 32 ppb, which are approximately 10x lower than the safe level confirmed by this body of research. The UNC research team pioneered unique biomarkers that help us understand potential health impacts from inhaling formaldehyde. The conclusion is clear and supported by data: at environmentally relevant concentrations inhaled formaldehyde does not travel beyond the nose, thus is not able to interact within other parts of the body to cause effects.

Researchers measured DNA Protein Cross Links (or DPX) and DNA adducts because they have been deemed the most sensitive biomarkers for exposure to formaldehyde – making this study one of the most precise in determining safe exposure limits.


University Research is Cutting Edge

Formaldehyde is present in all cells, which previously made it challenging for scientists to evaluate how much inhaled formaldehyde travels beyond the nose when we breathe it in. Therefore scientists worked to discover new methods to understand the effects of inhaled formaldehyde vs. formaldehyde produced naturally by the human body. Addressing potential risk from environmental exposures is important and this revolutionary research is key in better understanding the role of naturally produced versus inhaled formaldehyde. Though this study is not the first to confirm that safe thresholds for formaldehyde inhalation exposure exist, it is by far the most sensitive study and provides definitive scientific results supporting a safe exposure level for formaldehyde.

Our Commitment to Communicating the Science Around Formaldehyde

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently performing a TSCA risk evaluation for formaldehyde. Conducting and communicating the best available scientific information – such as the UNC study – is crucial to ensuring the objective and transparent application of scientific data, as required under TSCA. The UNC study builds on over 30 years of research that further demonstrates exposure limits set by international agencies, like the World Health Organization, continue to be protective.

UNC Research Study

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1 Evaluation of Inhaled Low Dose Formaldehyde Induced DNA adducts and DNA-protein cross-links by Liquid Chromatography -Tandem Mass Spectrometry, Leng, J. et. al


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