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Formaldehyde
Last updated: 24/05/2024
(Also known as: formalin; methanal; methyl aldehyde; methylene oxide; paraformaldehyde)

SUMMARY
Data alerts

The following alerts are based on the data in the tables below. An absence of an alert does not imply the substance has no implications for human health, biodiversity or the environment but just that we do not have the data to form a judgement.

Environmental fate Ecotoxicity Human health
Environmental fate
High alert:
Drainflow: Mobile
Ecotoxicity
Moderate alert:
Fish acute ecotoxicity: Moderate; Daphnia acute ecotoxicity: Moderate
Human health
High alert:
Carcinogen; Genotoxic
GENERAL INFORMATION
Description
Used as a disinfectant for soil, equipment, yards etc. Also used as an animal husbandry fungicide. Can also be a pesticide transformation product
Example pests controlled
Most bacteria and fungi
Example applications
Non-cropped areas; Growing media; Equipment; Flower tubers & bulbs
Efficacy & activity
-
Availability status
Current
Introduction & key dates
1888, introduced
UK regulatory status
UK COPR regulatory status
Not approved
Date COPR inclusion expires
Expired
UK LERAP status
No UK approval for use
EC Regulation 1107/2009 (repealing 91/414)
EC Regulation 1107/2009 status
Not approved
Dossier rapporteur/co-rapporteur
-
Date EC 1107/2009 inclusion expires
Expired
EU Candidate for substitution (CfS)
-
Listed in EU database
Yes
Approved for use (✓) under EC 1107/2009 in the following EU Member States
ATAustria
BEBelgium
BGBulgaria
CYCyprus
CZCzech Republic
DEGermany
DKDenmark
EEEstonia
ELGreece
                 
ESSpain
FIFinland
FRFrance
HRCroatia
HUHungary
IEIreland
ITItaly
LTLithuania
LULuxembourg
                 
LVLatvia
MTMalta
NLNetherlands
PLPoland
PTPortugal
RORomania
SESweden
SISlovenia
SKSlovakia
                 
Approved for use (✓) under EC 1107/2009 by Mutual Recognition of Authorisation and/or national regulations in the following EEA countries
ISIceland
NONorway
                 
Additional information
Also used in
USA
Chemical structure
Isomerism
None
Chemical formula
CH₂O
Canonical SMILES
C=O
Isomeric SMILES
No data
International Chemical Identifier key (InChIKey)
WSFSSNUMVMOOMR-UHFFFAOYSA-N
International Chemical Identifier (InChI)
InChI=1S/CH2O/c1-2/h1H2
2D structure diagram/image available?
Yes
Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre diagrams
Common Name Relationship Link
formaldehyde -
General status
Pesticide type
Fungicide, Metabolite, Other substance
Metabolite Type
Soil, Surface water
Other bioactivity & uses
Inert solvent, Bactericide
Substance groups
Unclassified gas
Minimum active substance purity
-
Known relevant impurities
-
Substance origin
Synthetic
Mode of action
Acts by protein denaturation
CAS RN
50-00-0
EC number
200-001-8
CIPAC number
156
US EPA chemical code
043001
PubChem CID
712
CLP index number
605-001-00-5
Molecular mass
30.03
PIN (Preferred Identification Name)
-
IUPAC name
formaldehyde
CAS name
formaldehyde
Other status information
Listed on USA Toxic Release Inventory; Registered as a UK Commodity Substance; Subject to the provisions of the UK Poisons Act 1972
Relevant Environmental Water Quality Standards
UK Environment Agency non-statutory standard for the protection of aquatic life in fresh surface water: 5 µg l⁻¹ as annual average, 50 µg l⁻¹ as max acceptable conc.
Herbicide Resistance Class (HRAC MoA class)
Not applicable
Herbicide Resistance Class (WSSA MoA class)
Not applicable
Insecticide Resistance Class (IRAC MoA class)
Not applicable
Fungicide Resistance Class (FRAC MOA class)
Not applicable
Examples of recorded resistance
-
Physical state
Gas
Can be a metabolite of:
Parent
Formation medium
Estimated maximum occurrence fraction
1107/2009 relevancy
bronopol Soil - -
dazomet Soil 0.205 Major fraction
trioxymethylene Acid soil - Major fraction
Formulations
Property
Value
Example manufacturers & suppliers of products using this active now or historically
-
Example products using this active
  • Formalin Fungicide
Formulation and application details
Often used as a dip, drench or spray treatment. May also be used as a fumigant to sterilise animal houses.
ENVIRONMENTAL FATE
Property
Value
Source; quality score; and other information
Interpretation
Solubility - In water at 20 °C (mg l⁻¹)
550000
C4 C = AGRITOX dataset. Dataset is no longer available.
4 = Verified data
High
Solubility - In organic solvents at 20 °C (mg l⁻¹)
Miscible
C4 C = AGRITOX dataset. Dataset is no longer available.
4 = Verified data
Acetone
-
Melting point (°C)
-92
B5 B = UK CRD and ACP Evaluation Documents / and other DEFRA (UK) documents; Also Chemicals Regulation Division, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), UK (click here )
5 = Verified data used for regulatory purposes
-
Boiling point (°C)
-19.2
B5 B = UK CRD and ACP Evaluation Documents / and other DEFRA (UK) documents; Also Chemicals Regulation Division, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), UK (click here )
5 = Verified data used for regulatory purposes
-
Degradation point (°C)
- - -
Flashpoint (°C)
50
V3 V = ChemID Online Databases; Chemspider; PubChem. (ChemID )
3 = Unverified data of known source
-
Octanol-water partition coefficient at pH 7, 20 °C
P
2.24 X 1000 Calculated -
Log P
0.35
V3 V = ChemID Online Databases; Chemspider; PubChem. (ChemID )
3 = Unverified data of known source
Low
Fat solubility of residues
Solubility
- - -
Data type
- - -
Density (g ml⁻¹)
0.82
L3 L = Pesticide manuals and hard copy reference books / other sources
3 = Unverified data of known source
-
Dissociation constant pKa) at 25 °C
13.27
V3 V = ChemID Online Databases; Chemspider; PubChem. (ChemID )
3 = Unverified data of known source
-
Strong base
Vapour pressure at 20 °C (mPa)
53300000
C4 C = AGRITOX dataset. Dataset is no longer available.
4 = Verified data
Highly volatile. If applied directly to plants or soil, drift is a concern & mitigation is advisable
Henry's law constant at 25 °C (Pa m³ mol⁻¹)
3.41 X 10-02
V3 V = ChemID Online Databases; Chemspider; PubChem. (ChemID )
3 = Unverified data of known source
Non-volatile
Volatilisation as max % of applied dose lost
From plant surface
- - -
From soil surface
- - -
Maximum UV-vis absorption L mol⁻¹ cm⁻¹
- - -
Surface tension (mN m⁻¹)
- - -
Degradation
Property
Value
Source; quality score; and other information
Interpretation
General biodegradability
-
Soil degradation (days) (aerobic)
DT₅₀ (typical)
6
Q2 Q = Miscellaneous data from online sources
2 = Unverified data of unknown source
Non-persistent
DT₅₀ (lab at 20 °C)
1.9
A5 A = EU regulatory and evaluation data as published by EC, EFSA (RAR, DAR & Conclusion dossiers), EMA (e.g. EU Annex III PIC DGD) (EU - Pesticides database; EFSA Scientific Publications )
5 = Verified data used for regulatory purposes
Non-persistent
DT₅₀ (field)
- - -
DT₉₀ (lab at 20 °C)
- - -
DT₉₀ (field)
- - -
DT₅₀ modelling endpoint
- - -
Note
Other sources: DT₅₀ 2-20 days
Dissipation rate RL₅₀ (days) on plant matrix
Value
- - -
Note
-
Dissipation rate RL₅₀ (days) on and in plant matrix
Value
- - -
Note
-
Aqueous photolysis DT₅₀ (days) at pH 7
Value
- - -
Note
-
Aqueous hydrolysis DT₅₀ (days) at 20 °C and pH 7
Value
Stable
P2 P = Other non-EU, UK or US Governments and Regulators
2 = Unverified data of unknown source
Stable
Note
-
Water-sediment DT₅₀ (days)
- - -
Water phase only DT₅₀ (days)
- - -
Air degradation
As this parameter is not normally measured directly, a surrogate measure is used: ‘Photochemical oxidative DT₅₀’. Where data is available, this can be found in the Fate Indices section below.
Soil adsorption and mobility
Property
Value
Source; quality score; and other information
Interpretation
Linear
Kd (mL g⁻¹)
-
A3 A = EU regulatory and evaluation data as published by EC, EFSA (RAR, DAR & Conclusion dossiers), EMA (e.g. EU Annex III PIC DGD) (EU - Pesticides database; EFSA Scientific Publications )
3 = Unverified data of known source
Mobile
Koc (mL g⁻¹)
37
Notes and range
Other sources: DT₅₀ 2-20 days
Freundlich
Kf (mL g⁻¹)
- - -
Kfoc (mL g⁻¹)
-
1/n
-
Notes and range
-
pH sensitivity
-
Fate indices
Property
Value
Source; quality score; and other information
Interpretation
GUS leaching potential index
0.68 Calculated Low leachability
SCI-GROW groundwater index (μg l⁻¹) for a 1 kg ha⁻¹ or 1 l ha⁻¹ application rate
Value
1.64 X 10-03 Calculated -
Note
-
Potential for particle bound transport index
Low Calculated -
Potential for loss via drain flow
Mobile Calculated -
Photochemical oxidative DT₅₀ (hrs) as indicator of long-range air transport risk
- - -
Bio-concentration factor
BCF (l kg⁻¹)
0.2
Q2 Q = Miscellaneous data from online sources
2 = Unverified data of unknown source
Low potential
CT₅₀ (days)
Not available -
Known metabolites

None

ECOTOXICOLOGY
Terrestrial ecotoxicology
Property
Value
Source; quality score; and other information
Interpretation
Mammals - Acute oral LD₅₀ (mg kg⁻¹)
> 550
L3 L = Pesticide manuals and hard copy reference books / other sources
3 = Unverified data of known source
Rat
Moderate
Mammals - Short term dietary NOEL
(mg kg⁻¹)
-
Q2 Q = Miscellaneous data from online sources
2 = Unverified data of unknown source
Unknown species
-
(ppm diet)
50 -
Mammals - Chronic 21d NOAEL (mg kg⁻¹ bw d⁻¹)
- - -
Birds - Acute LD₅₀ (mg kg⁻¹)
> 5000
F4 F = U.S. EPA ECOTOX database / U.S. EPA pesticide fate database / Miscellaneous WHO documents / FAO data, IPCS INCHEM data (US EPA Databases Related to Pesticide Risk Assessment )
4 = Verified data
Anas platyrhynchos
Low
Birds - Short term dietary (LC₅₀/LD₅₀)
- - -
Birds - Chronic 21d NOEL (mg kg⁻¹ bw d⁻¹)
- - -
Earthworms - Acute 14 day LC₅₀ (mg kg⁻¹)
- - -
Earthworms - Chronic NOEC, reproduction (mg kg⁻¹)
- - -
Soil micro-organisms
- - -
Collembola
Acute LC₅₀ (mg kg⁻¹)
- - -
Chronic NOEC (mg kg⁻¹)
- - -
Non-target plants
- - -
- - -
Honeybees (Apis spp.)
Contact acute LD₅₀ (worst case from 24, 48 and 72 hour values - μg bee⁻¹)
- - -
Oral acute LD₅₀ (worst case from 24, 48 and 72 hour values - μg bee⁻¹)
- - -
Unknown mode acute LD₅₀ (worst case from 24, 48 and 72 hour values - μg bee⁻¹)
- - -
Chronic
- - -
Bumblebees (Bombus spp.)
Contact acute LD₅₀ (worst case from 24, 48 and 72 hour values - μg bee⁻¹)
- - -
-
Oral acute LD₅₀ (worst case from 24, 48 and 72 hour values - μg bee⁻¹)
- - -
-
Mason bees (Osmia spp.)
Contact acute LD₅₀ (worst case from 24, 48 and 72 hour values - μg bee⁻¹)
- - -
Oral acute LD₅₀ (worst case from 24, 48 and 72 hour values - μg bee⁻¹)
- - -
Other bee species (1)
Acute LD₅₀ (worst case from 24, 48 and 72 hour values - μg insect⁻¹)
- - -
Mode of exposure
-
Other bee species (2)
Acute LD₅₀ (worst case from 24, 48 and 72 hour values - μg insect⁻¹)
- - -
Mode of exposure
-
Beneficial insects (Ladybirds)
- - -
Beneficial insects (Lacewings)
- - -
Beneficial insects (Parasitic wasps)
- - -
Beneficial insects (Predatory mites)
- - -
Beneficial insects (Ground beetles)
- - -
Aquatic ecotoxicology
Property
Value
Source; quality score; and other information
Interpretation
Temperate Freshwater Fish - Acute 96 hour LC₅₀ (mg l⁻¹)
> 1.84
A5 A = EU regulatory and evaluation data as published by EC, EFSA (RAR, DAR & Conclusion dossiers), EMA (e.g. EU Annex III PIC DGD) (EU - Pesticides database; EFSA Scientific Publications )
5 = Verified data used for regulatory purposes
Oncorhynchus mykiss
Moderate
Temperate Freshwater Fish - Chronic 21 day NOEC (mg l⁻¹)
- - -
Tropical Freshwater Fish - Acute 96 hour LC₅₀ (mg l⁻¹)
41.0
F3 F = U.S. EPA ECOTOX database / U.S. EPA pesticide fate database / Miscellaneous WHO documents / FAO data, IPCS INCHEM data (US EPA Databases Related to Pesticide Risk Assessment )
3 = Unverified data of known source
Danio rerio
Moderate
Temperate Freshwater Aquatic invertebrates - Acute 48 hour EC₅₀ (mg l⁻¹)
> 0.43
A5 A = EU regulatory and evaluation data as published by EC, EFSA (RAR, DAR & Conclusion dossiers), EMA (e.g. EU Annex III PIC DGD) (EU - Pesticides database; EFSA Scientific Publications )
5 = Verified data used for regulatory purposes
Daphnia magna
Moderate
Temperate Freshwater Aquatic invertebrates - Chronic 21 day NOEC (mg l⁻¹)
- - -
Tropical Freshwater Aquatic invertebrates - Acute 48 hour EC₅₀ (mg l⁻¹)
> 11.4
F4 F = U.S. EPA ECOTOX database / U.S. EPA pesticide fate database / Miscellaneous WHO documents / FAO data, IPCS INCHEM data (US EPA Databases Related to Pesticide Risk Assessment )
4 = Verified data
Ceriodaphnia dubia
Moderate
Aquatic crustaceans - Acute 96 hour LC₅₀ (mg l⁻¹)
- - -
Sediment dwelling organisms - Acute 96 hour LC₅₀ (mg l⁻¹)
- - -
Sediment dwelling organisms - Chronic 28 day NOEC, static, water (mg l⁻¹)
- - -
Sediment dwelling organisms - Chronic 28 day NOEC, sediment (mg kg⁻¹)
- - -
Aquatic plants - Acute 7 day EC₅₀, biomass (mg l⁻¹)
- - -
Algae - Acute 72 hour EC₅₀, growth (mg l⁻¹)
> 0.88
A4 A = EU regulatory and evaluation data as published by EC, EFSA (RAR, DAR & Conclusion dossiers), EMA (e.g. EU Annex III PIC DGD) (EU - Pesticides database; EFSA Scientific Publications )
4 = Verified data
Unknown species
Moderate
Algae - Chronic 96 hour NOEC, growth (mg l⁻¹)
> 0.1
P4 P = Other non-EU, UK or US Governments and Regulators
4 = Verified data
Phyllospora comosa
Moderate
Mesocosm study data
NOEAEC mg l⁻¹
- - -
NOEAEC mg l⁻¹
- - -
HUMAN HEALTH AND PROTECTION
General
Property
Value
Source; quality score; and other information
Interpretation
Threshold of Toxicological Concern (Cramer Class)
Low (class I) - -
Mammals - Acute oral LD₅₀ (mg kg⁻¹)
> 550
L3 L = Pesticide manuals and hard copy reference books / other sources
3 = Unverified data of known source
Rat
Moderate
Mammals - Dermal LD₅₀ (mg kg⁻¹ body weight)
270
B5 B = UK CRD and ACP Evaluation Documents / and other DEFRA (UK) documents; Also Chemicals Regulation Division, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), UK (click here )
5 = Verified data used for regulatory purposes
Rabbit
-
Mammals - Inhalation LC₅₀ (mg l⁻¹)
> 0.6
B5 B = UK CRD and ACP Evaluation Documents / and other DEFRA (UK) documents; Also Chemicals Regulation Division, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), UK (click here )
5 = Verified data used for regulatory purposes
Rat 4 hr
-
Other Mammal toxicity endpoints
- - -
ADI - Acceptable Daily Intake (mg kg⁻¹ bw day⁻¹)
- - -
ARfD - Acute Reference Dose (mg kg⁻¹ bw day⁻¹)
- - -
AAOEL - Acute Acceptable Operator Exposure Level (mg kg⁻¹ bw day⁻¹)
- - -
AOEL - Acceptable Operator Exposure Level - Systemic (mg kg⁻¹ bw day⁻¹)
- - -
Dermal penetration studies (%)
- - -
Dangerous Substances Directive 76/464
- - -
Exposure Routes
Public
Most probable exposure route is via inhalation
Occupational
Most probable exposure route is via inhalation - PPE/PPC essential
MRLs
European
EU MRL pesticide database 
Great Britain
GB MRL Register 
Notes
-
Drinking Water Standards
- - -
Drinking Water MAC (μg l⁻¹)
- - -
Mammalian dose elimination route and rate
- - -
Health issues
Specific human health issues
Carcinogen
Genotoxic
Endocrine disruptor
Yes, known to cause a problem
A0 A = Chromosome aberration (EFSA database)
0 = No data
;
B0 B = DNA damage/repair (EFSA database)
0 = No data
;
C0 C = Gene mutation (EFSA database)
0 = No data
;
D0 D = Genome mutation (EFSA database)
0 = No data
;
E1 E = Unspecified genotoxicity type (miscellaneous data source)
1 = Positive
No data found
Reproduction / development effects Acetyl cholinesterase inhibitor Neurotoxicant
?Possibly, status not identified
XNo, known not to cause a problem
XNo, known not to cause a problem
Respiratory tract irritant Skin irritant Skin sensitiser
Yes, known to cause a problem
Yes, known to cause a problem
Yes, known to cause a problem
Eye irritant Phototoxicant  
Yes, known to cause a problem
No data found  
General human health issues
IARC Group 1 carcinogen, UK HSE - carcinogen; CLP data - known human carcinogen; US NTP - known carcinogen; OSHA - known human carcinogen; US EPA - probable human carcinogen
Severe obstructive tracheobronchitis may result from inhalation causing throat spasms and a build up of fluid in the lungs, leading to death
Suspected of causing genetic defects
May cause serious damage of the gastrointestinal tract
Handling issues
Property
Value and interpretation
General
Flammable gas
Reacts explosively with peroxides and performic acid
IMDG Tranport Class 3
CLP classification 2013
Health: H301, H311, H314, H317, H331, H341, H350
WHO Classification
Not classified: Fumigant (Not classified: Fumigant)
UN Number
UN1198
Waste disposal & packaging
Packaging Group III (minor danger)
Shelf-life, storage, stability and reactivity
-
TRANSLATIONS
Language
Name
English
formaldehyde
French
formaldehyde
German
Formaldehyd
Danish
formaldehyd
Italian
formaldeide
Spanish
formaldehído
Greek
-
Polish
formaldehyd
Swedish
-
Hungarian
-
Dutch
formaldehyde
Norwegian
-

Record last updated: 24/05/2024
Contact: aeru@herts.ac.uk
Please cite as: Lewis, K.A., Tzilivakis, J., Warner, D. and Green, A. (2016) An international database for pesticide risk assessments and management. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal, 22(4), 1050-1064. DOI: 10.1080/10807039.2015.1133242