The Massachusetts program for reducing the risk of formaldehyde exposure.
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The Massachusetts program for reducing the risk of formaldehyde exposure.

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  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Public Health Rep
    • Description:
      Urea formaldehyde foam insulation in homes has caused increasing concerns about the adverse health effects associated with residential exposure to formaldehyde emissions. These health effects cover a broad spectrum of symptoms, including neurophysiological effects, respiratory irritations, and eye and skin irritations. Recent studies have also suggested a possible correlation between exposure to formaldehyde vapors and cancer. In 1979, following hundreds of complaints of adverse health effects from occupants of dwellings insulated with urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued regulations banning the new installation of UFFI in Massachusetts. New State legislation was adopted in 1986 which reformulated UFFI policy. The law established a minimum concentration of formaldehyde of 0.1 parts per million (ppm) below which removal of the insulation is not required or encouraged. A trust fund financed by industry was established to pay for air testing and for the removal of UFFI from homes if the formaldehyde level exceeds the statutory minimum of 0.1 ppm or if an occupant experiences adverse health effects attributable to the insulation. Based on the Massachusetts experience, these requirements have been identified: the need for flexibility and midcourse corrections in the development of health policy to allow for the incorporation of new scientific information or changes in the economic or political environment, the need for close coordination with all affected parties, and the need for scientific and technical policy development to be joined with economic and political perspectives to ensure smooth implementation of health policies.
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