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Formaldehyde - A Comparison of FEMA, NIOSH, HUD & OSHA Standards

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

 FEMANIOSHHUDOSHA
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.

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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 TermnoneC 0.1 ppm [15-minute]noneShort 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 MethodsMiran SapphIRe infrared spectroscopy analyzer or similar direct-reading electronic instrumentation with data logging. noneSampling 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