Guidelines for reducing formaldehyde concentrations in indoor air of workplaces (2002)
|Labour Standards Bureau Notification (Kihatsu) No.0315002
March 15, 2002
In recent years the so-called "sick house syndrome" has
become a matter of concern. This is caused by chemical substances,
including formaldehyde, emitted from building materials that are used
in construction into indoor air, and is marked by various symptoms
including eye, nose and throat irritations etc., and headaches.
Accordingly, we intend to contribute to a reduction in the concentration
of formaldehyde and eventually to a reduction in hazards, arising from
formaldehyde, and to a reduction in health risks of workers by concretely
indicating guidelines values of the concentration of formaldehyde in indoor
air of workplaces as well as measures to be taken by employers.
- Measures to be taken by employers
Employers shall make efforts to keep the concentration of formaldehyde
in indoor air of workplaces below 0.08 ppm and to take the following measures
for the purpose of reducing hazards, arising from formaldehyde, in their
workers of health.
However, as for workplaces, which either manufacture or handle products
or materials emitting formaldehyde or formaldehyde vapor, and have
enormous difficulty in keeping such concentrations below the foregoing
level because of the nature of their work (hereinafter referred to
as "specific workplace"), refer to Section 3 below.
||Measurement of concentrations
If there is a possibility of formaldehyde vapor being emitted in indoor air of workplaces, measure the concentration of formaldehyde in the indoor air according to the Exhibit.
The following examples suggest the possibility of formaldehyde vapor being
emitted in indoor air.
- One or more workers have eye, nose, throat irritations etc.
- Building materials
and furniture thought to emit a large quantity of formaldehyde
vapor is used in large amounts.
- Indoor ventilation
is not sufficient.
Sources of formaldehyde vapor in typical worksites, etc.,
include adhesive agents and antiseptic substances containing
formaldehyde and used in building materials, including veneer
boards and fiber boards, office furniture, carpets, etc.
||Measures for a reduction
If the results of the preceding section (1) show that the concentration
of formaldehyde in indoor air exceeds 0.08 ppm, effective measures
among the following should be taken at applicable workplaces to
prevent the concentration from exceeding the predetermined level.
- New or additional
installation of ventilation equipment
of continuous ventilation
- Removal or replacement
of sources of formaldehyde vapor, such as building materials,
including veneer boards and fiber boards, office furniture
- Sealing of vapor
sources, including coating, or use of effective absorbents
Take necessary measures for workers complaining of symptoms related to
sick house syndrome, including a change in the workplace location, in compliance
with the opinions of industrial physicians. In such an event, consult medical
doctors or institutions well acquainted with sick house syndrome, if necessary.
||Making good use of
a consultation support system
To support employers, who intend to implement measures based on these guidelines,
the Safety and Health Service Centers of the Japan Industrial Safety and
Health Association provides advice on measurement concentrations of formaldehyde
in indoor air of workplaces and concentration reductions, and the Tokyo
Rosai Hospital (Occupational Poisoning Center) of the Labor Welfare Corporation
and the Prefectural Occupational Health Promoting Centers make it a practice
to provide advice to industrial physicians and industrial health manager.
This consultation support system should be made good use of.
- Measures to be taken by employers at specified workplaces
As for a specified workplace, employers shall keep concentrations of formaldehyde
in indoor air below 0.25 ppm and make efforts to take the following measures
for the purpose of reducing formaldehyde hazard risks to workers' health.
- Measurement of concentrations
The concentration of formaldehyde in indoor air should be measured in conformity with the Exhibit.
In the event of a new installation or renovation of equipment
and changes in work processes or work methods, etc., the concentration
of formaldehydes in workplaces should be measured according to
- Measures to be taken
for reductions in concentrations
If measurement results specified in (1) above show that the concentration
of formaldehyde in indoor air exceeds 0.25 ppm, employers must
keep concentrations below the predetermined level by taking effective
measures out of the following at their workplace.
- Replacing certain
substances with less irritants and poisonous substances
- Enclosure of facilities
- Introduction of
- Installation of
a local exhaust system, a push-pull ventilation system or
a total ventilation system
- Altering conditions
of use so as to emit less formaldehyde
- Altering work processes or work methods, which reduces worker exposure
- Use of effective
If the concentration is measured again at a workplace after the above measures
are taken and the results of such measurement show that the concentration
still exceeds 0.25 ppm, employers shall make efforts to prevent workers
from being exposed to formaldehyde by promoting the effective use of respiratory
protective equipment and protective glasses, etc.
Even if the concentration of formaldehyde does not exceed 0.25 ppm, it
is advisable for employers to promote the effective use of respiratory
protective equipment, and protective glasses, etc., depending on the type
of work or shorten the work hours workers are exposed to formaldehyde.
As for measures regarding worker complainants of symptoms related to sick
house syndrome, see Section 2 (3) above and as for consultation support
for employers, who intend to implement measures based on these guidelines,
see Section 2 (4) above.