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AUSTRALIAN industry’s use of the hazardous chemical formaldehyde has almost doubled in the past five years, even though numerous industrial countries have declared it carcinogenic and phased it out.
The chemical is found in a vast array of consumer and building products, including hair treatments such as keratin and in clothing.
The federal government appears to be dragging its heels despite strong action in the EU and US to declare the product carcinogenic and to phase it out.
SafeWork Australia, which falls within the portfolio of Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten, said last night it saw no need to act on recommendations in a 2006 report to dramatically cut exposure levels in the workplace.
Australia’s chief chemical regulator, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, lifted its rating on formaldehyde to a “Category 2 carcinogen”, meaning it “may cause cancer by inhalation”.
It said Australia’s safe limit of one part per million over an eight-hour period should be sharply cut to 0.3ppm, and that short-term elevated levels should be cut from 2ppm to 0.6ppm.
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