A Comparison of FEMA, NIOSH, HUD and OSHA Standards for Formaldehyde Exposure rev1

by IAQ Services Stuart D Bagley, MS, CIH, November 12, 2007

 

FEMA

NIOSH

HUD

OSHA

Formaldehyde Exposure Limits- 8 hours

Maximum concentration – Less than 16 parts per billion (ppb) or 0.016 ppm as directed by FEMA.  Samples shall be taken for eight (8) continuous hours.

 

Following the 7-day and 14-day waiting period, the indoor air for each unit shall be tested to document that the IAQ is below the required threshold limits.

NIOSH REL: Ca TWA 0.016 ppm or 16 parts per billion (ppb)[1]

 

This is a workplace limit.

A 1985 HUD regulation covering the use of pressed wood products in manufactured housing was designed to ensure that indoor levels are below 0.4 ppm.[2]  No time limit noted.

 

8-hour TWA - Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - The employer shall assure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of formaldehyde which exceeds 0.75 parts formaldehyde per million parts of air (0.75 ppm) as an 8-hour TWA.

 

This is a workplace limit.

Ratios of Limits: Compared to FEMA

 

 

FEMA's 8-hour limit is exactly the same as the NIOSH Limit.

 

Ratio of FEMA to NIOSH std. is: 1

0 .016 / 0.016 = 1

 

FEMA's limit is exactly 25 times more stringent then HUD's limit of 0.4 ppm.

 

Ratio of FEMA to HUD std. is: 0.400 / .016 = 25

 

FEMA is nearly 47 times more stringent then OSHA's PEL of 0.75 ppm.

 

Ratio of FEMA to OSHA standard.  is: 0.75 / .016 = 46.9

Exposure Limits- Short Term

none

C 0.1 ppm [15-minute]

none

Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL): The employer shall assure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of formaldehyde which exceeds two parts formaldehyde per million parts of air (2 ppm) as a 15-minute STEL.

Recommended

Monitoring

Methods

Miran SapphIRe infrared spectroscopy analyzer or similar direct-reading electronic instrumentation with data logging.

 

 

 

none

Sampling media: Coated XAD-2 Tube (150/75 mg sections, 20/60 mesh); coating is 10% (w/w) 2-(Hydroxymethyl) piperidine or diffusive sampler.

Additional FEMA Exposure Limitations

Total Volatile Organic Compounds (tVOCs) –Maximum concentration – 500 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/M3)

 

Particulates (PM10) Maximum concentration – 50 μg/M3

 

4-Phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH)* –  Maximum concentration – 6.5 μg/M3

 


 

[1] NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, September 2005

[2] AN UPDATE ON FORMALDEHYDE, 1997 REVISION, U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION, WASHINGTON, DC 20207