U.S – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently unveiled its draft risk evaluation for formaldehyde under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), sparking concerns within the feed industry regarding potential regulatory impacts and implications for animal health.

Formaldehyde, a chemical compound prevalent in both natural processes and various consumer products, has been flagged by the EPA as posing potential risks to human health. 

The draft evaluation, released for public comment and peer review, identifies formaldehyde as a substance with the potential for respiratory issues, sensory irritation, reproductive toxicity, and even cancer when humans are exposed to high levels, either through inhalation or skin contact. 

Moreover, its impact on the environment, characterized by its transient presence in water, sediment, and soil, has also been highlighted.

However, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) has raised significant concerns regarding the implications of the EPA’s draft evaluation on the feed industry. 

Leah Wilkinson, Vice President of AFIA, emphasized the crucial role of formaldehyde in ensuring the safety of animal food over the past four decades. She underscored its effectiveness in controlling food safety pathogens and its potential utility in mitigating the African swine fever (ASF) virus. 

AFIA, alongside other animal agriculture groups and the American Chemistry Council (ACC), is staunchly opposed to the EPA’s proposed regulations, fearing potential restrictions or bans on formaldehyde usage that could severely impact the industry.

Echoing AFIA’s concerns, the ACC’s Formaldehyde Panel criticized the EPA’s draft evaluation, citing deficiencies in the peer review process and the impracticality of suggested workplace limits. 

They stressed the vital role of formaldehyde across various industries and cautioned against overly stringent regulations that could disrupt manufacturing processes and downstream applications.

Call for public commentary

In response to the draft evaluation, the EPA has opened a 60-day public comment period, allowing stakeholders to submit feedback on the proposed regulatory measures. 

Additionally, the evaluation will undergo scrutiny by the Agency’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC), with a virtual public meeting scheduled for May 20-23, 2024. 

The EPA intends to incorporate feedback received from public comments and the SACC review into the final risk evaluation.

With the formaldehyde evaluation poised to be a focal point of discussion in the coming months, stakeholders in the feed industry remain vigilant, advocating for balanced regulatory measures that prioritize both human health and the industry’s ability to ensure animal welfare and food safety. 

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