The State of the EPA’s Formaldehyde Investigation

Funeral Industry News Laws & Regulations January 26, 2023
Formaldehyde definition

The State of the EPA’s Formaldehyde Investigation

You’ve probably heard all about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigation on formaldehyde.  You probably also know that since the study began, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has presented and supported the position that deathcare should be exempt from any restrictions on formaldehyde use, since as part of deathcare facility compliances with the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), safe practices are already well in place, and have been for some time.

If you missed part of the story, here it is in a nutshell: 

  • The EPA is conducting a (basically standard) inquiry into the human and environmental effects of formaldehyde.
  • The law that kicks off such investigations called the Toxic Substances Control Act and regularly results in similar evaluations (they’re looking for unreasonable risks associated with use of certain chemicals).
  • The results of the EPA study could result in severe restrictions on formaldehyde.

Accurate Science, Complete Data

Because the stakes for death care are extremely high, ensuring that scientific data are accurate,  complete, and properly evaluated is critical.  This is where the NFDA has been most actively involved.  To accurately reflect the safety of current practices of formaldehyde use in death care (already regulated by OSHA), the NFDA has been contributing evidence of various types directly to the study.

By submitting peer-reviewed, original research data and comments from embalming professionals’ first-hand experience to the EPA’s evaluation, the NFDA helps ensure that scope of the EPA review includes current information from industry professionals.

Your $.02

Comments from funeral directors, embalmers, and other death care professionals have been submitted directly to the agencies directing the investigation multiple times, most recently last month.   As the lengthy process of evaluation continues – likely into 2025 – there will be further opportunities for industry professionals to contribute to and engage with the study.  

To learn about what you might contribute, follow the news section of the NFDA website.  They keep an eagle’s eye on developments, regularly reporting on proceedings both to NFDA members and the public.  The NFDA also continues to contribute data to the EPA and other entities involved in the investigation. 

There’s plenty more information available there, also, including background on NFDA’s involvement in the study; the nature of the investigation, its purpose and scope; and the NFDA’s role in proceedings.  The NFDA also has an advocacy team available to answer any questions; contact them at