Page thématique

Occupational health

Prevention of occupational risks is a major public health issue. Every day at work, we may be faced with a variety of hazards: not only exposure to biological, physical or chemical agents, but also the effects of different work organisation methods. ANSES contributes to the production of knowledge on occupational hazards, exposure and risk assessment. Its work enables companies, authorities and other prevention stakeholders to better protect workers, in particular by anticipating emerging risks.

News

Encouraging formaldehyde substitution in several occupational sectors
11/02/2022
News

Encouraging formaldehyde substitution in several occupational sectors

Formaldehyde has been recognised as a carcinogen at European level and must be substituted by other substances or processes to protect the health of exposed workers. ANSES carried out several expert appraisals to identify less hazardous alternatives in five occupational sectors, examining the enabling factors and barriers to substitution in several industries. This work will support the government in enforcing substitution requirements among employers. It should also help those involved in the prevention of occupational health risks to support substitution efforts.
National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health: results of the 2021 calls for research projects
03/12/2021
News

National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health: results of the 2021 calls for research projects

Thirty-three research projects have been selected by ANSES under the 2021 PNR EST. They will receive a total of €6 million in funding. This research will provide new knowledge on environmental risks to human health, in the general population or at work, and to ecosystems. In early 2021, 298 projects were submitted in response to the two calls for projects: the first for projects on a general theme, and the second on the theme of "radiofrequencies and health". After a rigorous selection process involving assessment by scientific committees, 33 projects were chosen. Selected as part of the National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health (PNR EST) run by ANSES, these projects are funded from budgets delegated by the Ministries of the Environment, Labour and Agriculture, as well as funds from partner institutions. For the fourth year running, a specific budget from the Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition provides support for projects on the theme of endocrine disruptors. Lastly, additional funds are supporting a project on air quality related to atmospheric pollution. Contributing knowledge to ANSES's areas of expertise These projects will provide new knowledge in ANSES's different areas of expertise, and in particular on health risks to the general population and in the workplace, as well as risks to ecosystems and the quality of different environments, with a contribution from the human and social sciences. Various human diseases are being studied, such as cancer, respiratory and intestinal conditions, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and Parkinson's disease. More specifically, the projects selected for 2021 relate to one or more types of environmental and occupational exposure: Thirteen projects concern chemical agents, including nine projects on endocrine disruptors; Seven projects deal with the issue of emerging, unexplored or new sources of contamination, five of which study micro- and nanoplastics; Six projects focus on radiofrequencies and health; Five relate to occupational exposure and occupational health; Five deal with exposure and risks associated with airborne particles or fibres; Lastly, five projects focus on biological agents, including three in the context of vector control (pathogens transmitted by vectors, mainly mosquitoes and ticks), one on antimicrobial resistance, and one on mould in the home. In addition, nine of these projects are exploring multiple exposure to chemical and/or physical agents or "cocktail" effects, thus contributing to knowledge of the exposome. Twenty-eight projects will be funded by ANSES (€5.1M), three will be supported by the National Alliance for Life Sciences and Health (AVIESAN) multi-agency thematic institute for cancer, as part of the French Cancer Plan (€0.60M), and two projects by the French Agency for Ecological Transition (ADEME) (€0.26M).
Cumulative exposure in the workplace: 12 profiles to inform prevention policies
23/11/2021
News

Cumulative exposure in the workplace: 12 profiles to inform prevention policies

During their careers, employees may be exposed simultaneously to a number of sources of stress likely to affect their health in the short or long term. These include night work, exposure to biological agents or chemicals, a lack of resources, or workplace tensions. Taking account of this cumulative exposure or multiple exposure is a major challenge in developing effective prevention policies and improving occupational health in France. A study conducted jointly by ANSES, Santé Publique France and DARES shows that all employees are concerned, regardless of their occupation or sector of activity. It also describes a number of typical profiles for cumulative exposure. Almost all employees are affected by cumulative exposure at work To better describe the situations of multiple exposure experienced by employees in France, and to identify the main occupational sectors concerned, a joint study was conducted by ANSES, Santé Publique France and DARES, based on the results of the 2016-2017 Sumer survey . Carried out as part of the third Occupational Health Plan for the period 2016-2020 (PST 3), the study follows a review of the main actions taken concerning multiple exposure, both in France and in other countries, published in 2018. This analysis shows that almost all (97%) of the 25 million public- and private-sector employees experience conditions of multiple exposure , i.e., they are exposed to at least two sources of stress in one or more categories over the course of their professional career. These occupational sources of stress fall into five categories: chemical - potentially dangerous substances; biological - bacteria, viruses or mould; physical - noise, postural or thermal stress, exposure to radiation; organisational - working hours, lack of material and/or human resources, intensity and pace of work, limited autonomy, etc.; relational - strong pressure, lack of recognition at work, hostility from colleagues or management, tensions, etc. A dozen profiles identified for cumulative exposure Based on a statistical analysis, the study grouped employees according to 12 profiles, describing the most common situations of cumulative exposure. Some profiles may be associated with one or more specific occupational fields, such as healthcare, agriculture, seagoing and fishing activities. Others describe a situation of multiple exposure common to several sectors of activity. This is the case, in particular, for office workers, in fields as varied as public administration, teaching, or banking and insurance. Organisational constraints affecting all sectors of activity While known exposure to chemical, physical or biological stress is specific to the job carried out, all the multiple exposure profiles highlight exposure to organisational and relational stress . Often less well documented, this type of stress is inherent to any salaried activity, since it is specific to the way work is organised, to cooperation with other workers, as well as to interactions with customers or users. Many healthcare professionals combine all stress categories Healthcare professionals – nurses, midwives, nursing assistants, paramedics, doctors and others – make up a group of activities that are particularly concerned by multiple exposure. They accumulate exposures to all five categories of stress. In this way, they are potentially exposed to biological agents of human origin, often combined with exposure to chemicals, particularly through medicines. They are also concerned by situations of tension, time constraints such as night work, a sustained pace of work and a lack of material and human resources, as well as physical constraints such as ionising radiation or difficult physical postures. An original analytical approach to guide prevention and research on multiple exposure This global approach, based on multiple-exposure profiles, represents a real step forwards in its ability to shed light on multiple exposure in order to address it more effectively. It provides a basis for approaching the different types of stress experienced by employees not in isolation but as a whole, possibly accentuating the associated occupational risks. It sets out a preliminary identification of the sectors concerned by these forms of multiple exposure. Following these studies, it would be useful to conduct a more detailed characterisation of the occupations in which multiple exposure is highest, such as healthcare professionals, for example. Studies are already under way on the working conditions of cleaning and sanitation workers and their impact on health, as well as the health risks for workers involved in collecting, sorting and processing household waste. It would also be useful to step up research in order to better understand how the interaction between certain types of stress can lead to more serious health effects for workers. This will contribute to the implementation of the exposome concept, which aims to take account of cumulative exposure: over time and between exposure factors (with the contribution of this report). Looking beyond these aspects, it also addresses the cumulative impact of exposure in the workplace and in everyday life.
ANSES & Inserm scientific conference
21/10/2021

Tuesday, 30 November, 2021

ANSES & Inserm scientific conference

189 rue de Bercy - Paris 12e
Public : oui
Maison de la RATP
The exposome concept arose from the need to gain a better understanding of the health impact of the various exposures of an individual over a lifetime, taking into account environmental exposure to chemical, physical and biological agents on the one hand and socio-economic factors on the other. Today, one of the aims of research is to characterise the various facets of the exposome and its impact on the occurrence of human diseases, especially chronic diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and endocrine disorders, and study potential interactions between the components of the exposome and between the exposome and biological parameters. The ultimate goal will be to estimate the overall health impact of the exposome and if possible, classify the roles of various risk factors. This need is currently recognised by scientists and society and is gradually being incorporated into public policies. Better understanding the exposome is one of the objectives of the fourth edition of the National Environmental Health Action Plan, and the concept has been written into the French Public Health Code. However, questions are still being raised regarding the tools to be promoted and the methodological approaches to be implemented to ensure that the exposome takes its rightful place in the various spheres of public health expertise and ultimately in the field of risk management. To review the current state of research on this topic, ANSES and Inserm are organising a scientific conference on “Exposome and public health: from research to expertise” on 30 November 2021 at Espace du Centenaire – Maison de la RATP, Paris 75012. On the programme : an overview of the exposome concept and how it is being used for purposes of research and environmental health risk assessments; a review of the research work undertaken by Inserm or financed by the National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health, along with a summary of the research projects implemented by large European consortia. The four sessions will address the following topics: characterisation and description of the exposome; the social exposome; single exposure to mixtures and interactions; exposome and disease burden. The day will conclude with a summary round-table discussion. Open to all, this event is aimed more particularly at the scientific community, associations, professionals and decision-makers interested in the exposome. For people who are interested, this event will be live-streamed so it can be attended remotely. Information to this end will be sent out shortly.
Seeking a more protective European definition for nanomaterials
23/07/2021
News

Seeking a more protective European definition for nanomaterials

In the European Union, the definition of nanomaterial varies according to the industry sector. The European Commission launched a public consultation to revise the definition of nanomaterial with a view to possible harmonisation. In its response, ANSES urged the Commission not to exclude from this definition certain nanomaterials that could still be problematic for human health and the environment.
Recognising the carcinogenic nature of cytostatic drugs in order to improve occupational risk prevention
20/07/2021
News

Recognising the carcinogenic nature of cytostatic drugs in order to improve occupational risk prevention

Many professionals – nurses, caregivers, doctors, veterinarians, cleaning staff, etc. – are potentially exposed to cytostatics, which are drugs used in particular during chemotherapy to treat cancer. ANSES is recommending that work involving exposure to 18 cytostatic active ingredients be included in the ministerial order establishing the list of carcinogenic processes under employment law. The Agency is also issuing recommendations on how to protect and raise awareness among potentially exposed workers and employers. Many workers exposed Cytostatic active ingredients are mainly used to treat cancer in human and veterinary medicine, in various healthcare institutions, not just in hospital: medical care at home, hospices, nursing homes, veterinary clinics, etc. In hospitals, their use is not limited to oncology units; they can also be used in rheumatology, immunology, dermatology and gynaecology. According to the 2017 SUMER survey , nearly 92,000 employees are exposed to these substances: from manufacturing through to handling, and including transport, waste management, cleaning, etc. The mechanisms of action of cytostatics mean that they may be carcinogenic to healthy cells. Paradoxically then, these drugs for treating cancer patients may expose the healthcare workers handling them to substances that are themselves carcinogenic . Due to strong suspicions about the carcinogenic nature of cytostatics and their routine use in the workplace, therefore, the Directorate General for Labour asked ANSES to investigate this topic in 2017. Taking the exposure circumstances into account to prevent risks in the workplace After an initial study published in 2018, and drawing on existing European or international assessments, ANSES now proposes that work involving exposure to 18 active ingredients of cancer drugs be included in the French ministerial order establishing the list of carcinogenic substances, mixtures and processes as defined by the French Labour Code. "Cytostatic drugs currently fall outside the European regulatory framework for classification and labelling. Unlike products used in an industrial environment, the European regulation does not require users to be warned of the hazardous nature of drugs via specific labelling. By proposing to include work involving exposure to these 18 substances in the French ministerial order, we are helping to shape the regulatory framework to ensure better protection of exposed workers " , emphasises Henri Bastos, Scientific Director for Occupational Health at ANSES. To achieve this, ANSES recommends taking into account the circumstances of exposure to these 18 substances, rather than the occupations exposed: exposure during drug manufacture, packaging, preparation, transport and handling; exposure when implementing protocols involving one or more of the identified substances; exposure through contamination of the working environment or via management of waste and excreta. "To define effective prevention solutions, we need to look at the entire exposure chain , from drug preparation and administration through to contamination of staff by patient excreta (sweat, vomit) or the treatment of linen or waste," continues Henri Bastos. Raising awareness among exposed workers In the case of cytostatics, substitution of these substances would be difficult because of their therapeutic benefit to patients. To control the existing risks as much as possible, ANSES recommends that employers: identify and assess the carcinogenic risk to exposed staff, raise awareness and train workers potentially exposed to this risk (e.g. techniques for removing potentially contaminated gloves), set up exposure monitoring for these workers. Although ANSES's expert appraisal focused on the carcinogenic nature of cytostatics, the Agency points out that these active ingredients can also have effects on reproduction and development, which need to be taken into account in the prevention of occupational risks. Improve knowledge ANSES also recommends more generally improving knowledge on the carcinogenic risk associated with exposure to these drugs through: an extension of this debate to other drugs than just cancer treatments, a possible classification of the active ingredients through the CLP Regulation , which would, in the case of carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMR) substances, ensure automatic implementation of prevention, protection or medical monitoring measures for exposed staff, the provision of improved and harmonised information on genotoxicity and carcinogenicity in the summary of product characteristics.
What are the risks of virtual reality and augmented reality, and what good practices does ANSES recommend?
24/06/2021
News

What are the risks of virtual reality and augmented reality, and what good practices does ANSES recommend?

Virtual and augmented reality are increasingly used in a wide variety of fields including healthcare, training, real estate, safety and leisure. In parallel with this deployment, ANSES decided to take a closer look at the impact of the population's exposure to these emerging technologies and the possible associated health effects. It is now calling for users to observe a few good practices to limit the adverse effects associated with these new uses. This expert appraisal follows on from earlier work by the Agency, which for several years has been studying the health impact of new digital technologies – 3D , screens , etc. – in a world where their applications are multiplying and uses are constantly evolving. A broad range of applications Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are used in numerous fields, mainly for professional applications: health and therapeutic care, training for aircraft pilots, for example, or in the military sphere. These technologies are also used by real estate agencies to offer visits to flats without leaving home, in certain museums , or at home through video games and smartphone applications. Various equipment can be used such as headsets, glasses and smartphones integrated into units placed in front of the eyes. Other items such as suits are progressively being developed to enable users to better interact with the virtual environment. Better understanding population exposure As very few exposure data are available, ANSES conducted a survey in 2019 to learn more about the French population's exposure to virtual and augmented reality. It found the following: the average session lasts more than one hour ; adult users are more often men (57%) with an average age of 40, from higher socio-professional categories (43%) and with a good command of technological tools. The smartphone is the main device they use; among children , there is a slight predominance of boys (55%), and the average age is 12-13 years. Virtual reality is mainly used for playing video games , and game consoles are the main devices used; in the professional context, both technologies are used, mainly for training, healthcare and stock management. Computers, head-mounted displays or screens are the most commonly used equipment. Short-term, reversible and limited effects Exposure to virtual reality can disrupt the sensory system and lead to symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, sweating, pallor, loss of balance, etc., which are grouped together under the term " virtual reality sickness ". In sensitive individuals, these symptoms may appear within the first few minutes of use. Following a session, virtual reality can also induce a temporary change in a person's sensory, motor and perceptual abilities, affecting their manual dexterity or ability to orientate their body. Furthermore, " AR/VR devices use LED screens that potentially have a high blue light content , which can disrupt our biological rhythms when viewed in the evening or at night (delayed sleep onset, disrupted sleep, etc.), " points out Dina Attia, scientific coordinator of this expert appraisal at ANSES. Lastly, exposure to the temporal modulation of the light emitted by these LED screens – flashing light that is sometimes imperceptible to the eye – can trigger epileptic seizures in susceptible people. Adopt the right practices to limit the health effects To avoid these effects, ANSES recommends that users: stop using AR/VR devices as soon as symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, sweating and pallor appear; take a rest for one to two hours after using AR/VR devices. " The body makes a great effort to adapt to the virtual world it interacts with, which can lead to fatigue . It is therefore important to allow an hour or two of rest before resuming an activity that requires a high level of concentration, such as driving a car ," explains Dina Attia; avoid all exposure to screens two hours before bedtime, especially for children and adolescents, who are more sensitive to blue light; in addition, these technologies should be avoided by people with epilepsy or anyone identified as vulnerable: pregnant women, people suffering from motion sickness or balance problems, or susceptible to migraines, etc. The Agency recommends informing users of the potential health effects and good practices for preventing them, through dedicated materials for professionals and specific communication targeting the general public. Continue research into the possible long-term effects Given the variety of VR/AR application areas, the changing uses should be documented by including exposure to these technologies in the various studies on living and working conditions. Virtual reality sickness remains the best documented effect. As very few data are currently available on the possible neurological consequences or long-term developmental effects, these warrant further investigation. In addition to VR/AR, and to supplement its work on the health impact of new technologies, ANSES has undertaken an expert appraisal on the effects of digital tools on the health of children and adolescents . This study, due to be published in 2022, aims to identify ways of preventing possible health impacts and better regulating their uses. Virtual reality or augmented reality: what is the difference? In virtual reality , the user is totally immersed in a virtual world generated entirely by a computer via a headset, for example. Virtual reality therefore does not use the user's real environment but a completely different setting in which they can project themselves. They can walk around and enter rooms, for example, by moving their body. With augmented reality , the user's device – glasses, smartphone or tablet, for example – allows them to project fictional elements onto their actual environment . A user can see how their living room would look with a new sofa, for example.
7th Scientific Day of the Institut Santé-Travail Paris-Est (IST-PE)
18/11/2021

Thursday, 18 November, 2021

7th Scientific Day of the Institut Santé-Travail Paris-Est (IST-PE)

40 avenue de Verdun 94000 Créteil ou en distanciel
Public : oui
Auditorium du Centre Hospitalier Intercommunal de Créteil
The seventh Scientific Day of the Institut Santé-Travail Paris-Est will take place on Thursday 18 November 2021. The topic of the day will be "Health, Work & the Healthcare Environment". The day will begin with an introductory conference which will be followed by three theme-based sessions: "Quality of life at work in healthcare environments", "Occupational exposure" and "Health aspects". Work in a healthcare environment concerns a very wide range of medical and paramedical professionals, in a variety of contexts (public or private hospitals, private practice, services to individuals). In addition to biological risks, which have recently come to the fore, workers are confronted with many other occupational risks (physical, organisational, and psychosocial). The aim of this event is to address, in specific theme-based sessions, recent data on occupational exposures in this sector of activity, results concerning health data for this type of worker, and presentations relating to the quality of life at work in care-based settings. The Day is intended for the many actors concerned by occupational health, workers from the various care environments, whether they are researchers, occupational health workers, institutions, social partners, management or human resource workers. Participation in this day-long event is free of charge, but for organisational and security reasons, registration is required before 1 October by contacting Ms Julie CAPON - Julie.Capon@chicreteil.fr - 01 57 02 28 77 The Organizing Committee : Pascal ANDUJAR - Milia BELACEL - Jean-Baptiste BOUDIN-LESTIENNE - Jean-Claude PAIRON Scientific Committee : Henri BASTOS - Christos CHOUAÏD - Gérard LASFARGUES - Mélina LE BARBIER - Corinne MANDIN - Jean-Claude PAIRON
"Helping improve the system of prevention, recognition and compensation for occupational diseases in France". Three questions for Henri Bastos, Occupational Health Scientific Director at ANSES
06/04/2021
News

"Helping improve the system of prevention, recognition and compensation for occupational diseases in France". Three questions for Henri Bastos, Occupational Health Scientific Director at ANSES

The French government has decided to carry out independent collective expert appraisals to support the development of occupational disease tables and thereby improve the recognition of occupational diseases in France. These scientific appraisals call on ANSES's expertise.
Recommended occupational exposure limits for titanium dioxide nanoparticles
04/03/2021
News

Recommended occupational exposure limits for titanium dioxide nanoparticles

With 17,000 tonnes produced or imported each year in France, titanium dioxide in nanoparticle form or TiO2-NP is one of the most widely used nanomaterials in various industrial sectors. It is therefore a major source of potential exposure in the workplace. Following on from the work carried out for the general population, ANSES is now recommending occupational exposure limits (OELs) to strengthen risk prevention for workers.
A project to understand and model the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in meat processing plants
25/02/2021
News

A project to understand and model the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in meat processing plants

A number of grouped cases or clusters of COVID-19 have been identified among workers in food processing plants, in France and around the world. A project coordinated by ANSES and funded by the National Research Agency (ANR) is now under way to better understand how the virus circulates in meat processing plants and to suggest appropriate preventive measures.
National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health: results of the 2020 calls for research projects
21/12/2020
News

National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health: results of the 2020 calls for research projects

Today, ANSES is publishing the list of projects selected as part of the 2020 calls for research projects for the National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health. Thirty-four projects were chosen following the selection process, with total funding of six million euros. ANSES operates the National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health ( PNR EST ), which is funded from budgets delegated by the Ministries of the Environment and Labour, as well as funds from partner institutions. For the third year running, an additional budget of 2 million euros from the Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition provided specific support for projects on the theme of endocrine disruptors. 277 projects were submitted in early 2020, in response to the two calls for projects, the first for projects on a general theme, and the second on the theme of "radiofrequencies and health". After a rigorous selection process involving assessment by scientific committees, 34 projects were chosen. Thirty-one projects will be funded by ANSES (€5.6 million), two will be supported by the ITMO Cancer institute from the AVIESAN alliance as part of the national Cancer Plan (€0.25 million), and one project by ADEME (€0.18 million). Contributing knowledge to ANSES's areas of expertise These projects, which address health risks to the population, risks to ecosystems and the quality of different environments, will contribute new knowledge to ANSES's various areas of expertise. Six projects focus on occupational risks, and three involve the human and social sciences. They also cover different human diseases , such as cancer, with two projects funded by ITMO Cancer; respiratory diseases (three projects); and intestinal diseases (one project). One project concerns child development, specifically autistic disorder, and three others examine fertility disorders. The projects selected in 2020 relate to one or more types of environmental and occupational exposure: Seventeen projects concern chemical agents, of which 10 are on endocrine disruptors and five on plant protection products; Four of them focus on radiofrequencies and health; Six address issues of ind oor or outdoor air quality, including two on air pollution, and two on particles and nanoparticles in the workplace; Two are concerned with light pollution, including one on its endocrine-disrupting effect; Two projects deal with the emerging issue of microplastics; Three projects focus on pathogens, including two on their vectors, in the framework of vector control. Ten of these projects are concerned with multiple exposure to chemical and/or physical agents and "cocktail" effects. PNR EST The National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health (PNR EST), coordinated by ANSES, funds research on environmental health risks, including occupational risks and risks to ecosystems. Its objectives are to: Produce the scientific knowledge on health risks associated with the environment and work that ANSES needs to conduct its expert appraisals: either because the studies produce data that will be used for future expert appraisals, or because they fill gaps in knowledge identified in previous reports. Develop new methods and tools for health risk analysis. Organise research and scientific teams to tackle issues related to the environmental-occupational health theme. As part of its efforts to promote the work financed as part of the PNR EST, every year ANSES organises Scientific Conferences, to enable the research teams to present their projects to stakeholders from the voluntary and professional sectors, scientists, public institutions, etc. The next Scientific Conferences, on the theme of micro- and nanoparticles, will take place in partnership with the ANR on 20 May 2021.

Decryption

Identifying alternatives to formaldehyde
11/02/2022

Identifying alternatives to formaldehyde

What is formaldehyde? Formaldehyde is a chemical compound occurring at room temperature as a colourless and flammable gas. It is often marketed in its liquid form, commonly known as formalin. How does exposure to formaldehyde occur? Formaldehyde is used in many occupational sectors and consumer products. It is a biocidal product used as a disinfectant, fixative and preservative. It is found in DIY and cleaning products, in wall coverings, flooring and furniture panelling and fabrics, plastics and other products. In the general population, exposure can occur through a wide range of formaldehyde sources in indoor air, including from fixtures and fittings, and decorating and household products that release formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is also released by combustion of cigarettes and tobacco products, candles, incense sticks and in open fireplaces and combustion appliances such as gas cookers and paraffin stoves. According to the findings of the 2017 SUMER survey, more than 185,000 workers were exposed to formaldehyde (PDF) (in French) (not counting exposure through formaldehyde-based resins and adhesives). The greatest exposure is in the health sector and in anatomical and cytological pathology laboratories (anatomical pathologists), the funeral industry (embalmers), agriculture, the chemical, food, paper and board, timber and furniture industries and in construction. What are the effects on health? The critical effects of acute or chronic formaldehyde exposure in humans are irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract. Airborne formaldehyde also causes nasopharyngeal cancer in humans, as observed in epidemiological studies of workers exposed to high levels of formaldehyde. How is formaldehyde regulated? Key formaldehyde dates: 2004 : The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified formaldehyde as a “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1) for nasopharyngeal cancer by inhalation. 2006 : The French Ministry of Labour included “work involving exposure to formaldehyde” on the list of carcinogenic substances, preparations and processes, as defined by the Labour Code, in an Order dated July 2006. This became effective on 1 January 2007 and requires the implementation of formaldehyde substitution measures as a priority. 2009 : Nasopharyngeal cancer was recognised as an occupational disease (Table 43 bis on cancerous conditions caused by formaldehyde) when linked to exposure in the workplace for 5 years through tasks such as formalin preparation, formaldehyde use in embalming and anatomical and cytological pathology laboratories, manufacture and use of formaldehyde-based resins and wood flooring varnishes, and fire extinguishing. 2014 : Following ANSES’s classification proposal , formaldehyde was classified as a Category 1B carcinogen and Category 2 mutagen at European level by Commission Regulation (EU) No 605/2014 of 5 June 2014. 2019 : A binding occupational exposure limit was adopted at European level (Directive 2019/983/EC), which was then transposed into French law by Decree No 2020-1546 of 9 December 2020. 2020 : Following an evaluation by the German Government, formaldehyde was approved as a biocidal active substance for product types 2 and 3 for a reduced period of 3 years. Companies marketing disinfectant biocidal products containing formaldehyde were required to apply for a marketing authorisation before 1 February 2022, with supporting arguments demonstrating that the products do not cause human or environmental exposure and why they are essential. What does ANSES’s work on the risks associated with formaldehyde use include? For more than ten years, ANSES has been conducting various expert assessments to evaluate the toxicity of formaldehyde, qualify and reduce human exposure, particularly in the workplace, and evaluate health risks. Assessing the risks for people (general population and workers) After formaldehyde was classified by the IARC in June 2004, the Agency was asked to assess the health risks associated with formaldehyde in indoor, outdoor (PDF) (in French) and occupational environments (PDF) (in French) . The main conclusions of two expert appraisal reports published by ANSES in 2008 were as follows: ranking sources of formaldehyde in indoor environments and evaluating their respective contributions to the exposure of the general population is challenging; the risk of cancer in the general population can be ruled out for both adults and children; the risk of nasopharyngeal cancer in workers cannot be ruled out in a number of occupational sectors with repeated high levels of exposure; the formaldehyde content of products intended for the general public should be reduced, and such products should be labelled with their formaldehyde emission levels. Reducing formaldehyde emissions at source In 2006 and 2009, ANSES proposed a protocol to identify and promote “low-emitting” building materials and decorating products among consumers. This work has been useful for developing French legislation on the labelling of these materials. In 2014, ANSES worked on priority chemicals to support the government in implementing future labelling requirements for volatile contaminants from furniture products (PDF) (in French) . Formaldehyde was identified as one of these priority chemicals for labelling. Regulating the use of formaldehyde In 2011, ANSES drafted and submitted a proposal on behalf of the French Government for a stricter classification of formaldehyde at European level. On the basis of this proposal, formaldehyde was classified as a category 1B carcinogen and a category 2 mutagen. In 2013, ANSES and the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands) jointly took charge of the assessment of formaldehyde under the REACH Regulation. Following this review of occupational risks (PDF) (in French) , ANSES identified health risks for workers in several occupational sectors and recommended the implementation of a risk reduction strategy. In 2017, ANSES examined different options for regulatory control of formaldehyde (PDF) (in French) in order to reduce and manage the risks for workers, and recommended the establishment of a binding occupational exposure limit at European level. Establishing health reference values The Agency develops health reference values for the general population and workers based on toxicity data. These reference values are based on health criteria and aim to protect people from any adverse effects due to exposure to chemicals. In 2017, in the light of new published data, it updated the reference values for formaldehyde, the earliest of which dated from 2007: acute and chronic toxicity reference values (TRVs) by inhalation were set at 123 µg.m-3. TRVs are toxicological indicators used to qualify or quantify the risk to human health associated with exposure to a chemical. They are used by companies and research institutions to demonstrate risk management and by government to establish recommendations on risk management; the indoor air quality guideline (IAQG) was set at 100 µg.m-3 to align it with WHO’s 2010 indoor air guideline. ANSES’s recommended IAQGs are airborne chemical concentration thresholds under which no health impacts or harm are expected in the general population; occupational exposure limits (OELs) were aligned with values set by the 2019 European Directive: an 8h-OEL of 350 µg.m-3 and a 15min-STEL of 700 µg.m-3. ANSES’s recommended OELs are usually airborne chemical concentration levels that workers can breathe during a specified period without experiencing adverse health effects. The concentration levels are determined for a homogeneous exposed population (workers) that excludes children and the elderly. Reducing health risks in the workplace Beyond recommending occupational exposure limits for formaldehyde, which will limit exposure levels in the workplace once introduced at the regulatory level, ANSES received a request from the government in 2014 for guidance on the potential substitution of formaldehyde in five occupational sectors : the feed industry (PDF) (in French) , mainly for formaldehyde treatment of soybean cakes; anatomical and cytological pathology (PDF) (in French) in medical diagnostics; embalming (PDF) (in French) ; the food industry, particularly the manufacture of sugar (PDF) (in French) and alginates (PDF) (in French) ; fish farming (PDF) (in French) . To carry out this work, the Agency developed an overall method for comparing a chemical to its alternatives. Expert appraisals in occupational diseases ANSES is currently conducting expert appraisals on the links between occupational exposure to formaldehyde and leukaemia, including myeloid leukaemia. This work will provide the scientific information needed for discussing any changes to the existing occupational disease tables or recommending new tables.
COVID-19 research
02/08/2021

COVID-19 research

Working at the interface between human and animal health, in the spirit of "One Health", ANSES's laboratories help provide effective, rapid responses to issues of applied research that can be implemented immediately. As an example, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ANSES has been deploying its research teams, its expert knowledge of zoonoses and animal coronaviruses, and its network of laboratories to improve our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and respond to questions that have arisen from this crisis. Here is an overview of the various projects undertaken by the Agency.
How are scientific expert appraisals for occupational diseases conducted?
06/04/2021

How are scientific expert appraisals for occupational diseases conducted?

When a worker exposed to hazards such as toxic substances contracts a disease while doing their job, this disease may be recognised as an occupational disease and give rise to compensation. To improve access to this recognition, the French government has decided to carry out independent, collective scientific expert appraisals. This preliminary expert appraisal stage has been entrusted to ANSES. How are occupational diseases recognised in France? What do the scientific expert appraisals conducted by ANSES involve? Here are some explanations.
One Health
16/11/2020

One Health

The "One Health" concept was first put forward in the early 2000s, with growing awareness of the close links between human health, animal health and the overall state of the environment. It aims to promote a multidisciplinary, global approach to health issues. ANSES's work is fully in line with the One Health concept, and the Agency is coordinating several projects based on it.
Nanomaterials
19/06/2020

Nanomaterials

Nanomaterials are increasingly being used in many everyday products, including foods, cosmetics, medications, etc. Their presence raises multiple questions about the risks they may pose to human health and to the environment. Below is a detailed review of ANSES's work on nanomaterials.
COVID-19: all ANSES's news
21/04/2020

COVID-19: all ANSES's news

Since the beginning of the pandemic, ANSES has been making its expertise available to public decision-makers for the prevention of COVID-19-related health risks. The Agency has also been offering its expertise in its specific areas of competence – food and nutrition, animal health, occupational health, etc. – to provide the public with useful guidelines on how to organise daily life and protect health during this period. This page lists all the work carried out by the Agency and provides an overview of its organisation at this unprecedented time.
Biological limit values for chemicals used in the workplace
01/10/2019

Biological limit values for chemicals used in the workplace

Determining occupational exposure limits for chemicals requires different but complementary approaches that may involve measuring substances in the atmosphere of the work environment, measuring surface contamination of workstations and biomonitoring of workers, in other words monitoring biological markers which reflect worker exposure. Consequently, whenever ANSES considers it to be relevant, it may, in addition to atmospheric OELs, propose biological limit values which could be used for biological monitoring of exposure by occupational physicians.
Climate change and health
30/05/2018

Climate change and health

Climate change is a reality on which there is broad consensus in the scientific community. Because of the inertia of the climate system, changes to the climate related to human activities will continue for many years, regardless of any measures taken today. Combating climate change, which is part of a more global environmental change, is therefore essential to limit its magnitude.
Exposure to silver nanoparticles
05/04/2018

Exposure to silver nanoparticles

Silver nanoparticles are used in various industrial applications, in sectors such as food (additives, food packaging, internal linings of refrigerators), textiles (clothing and bedding) and cosmetic and hygiene products (toothbrushes, hair straighteners, disinfectant sprays, etc.). They are mainly used for their antibacterial and antifungal properties. However, it is still proving very difficult to obtain an inventory referencing all products containing silver nanoparticles in France and elsewhere in the world. In 2011, ANSES received a formal request to update knowledge on the assessment of health and environmental risks associated with exposure to silver nanoparticles.
Occupational exposure limits for chemical agents
26/07/2017

Occupational exposure limits for chemical agents

Since 2005, the Agency has been responsible for organising the independent, multidisciplinary, collective scientific expert appraisal needed for setting occupational exposure limits (OELs). A dedicated expert committee has therefore been set up to support the Agency in this mission. At the same time, ANSES is also responsible for drafting a list of chemicals for priority assessment, which it proposes to the French Ministry of Labour, thus enabling the Ministry to develop the programme for the OEL expert mission after consultation with the social partners.
Atmospheric limit values for chemicals used in the workplace
26/07/2017

Atmospheric limit values for chemicals used in the workplace

The Agency has been mandated by the French Ministry of Labour to organise the phase of independent collective scientific expert appraisal needed to develop atmospheric occupational exposure limits (OELs) based on health criteria. These limits are tools used to restrict the concentration of pollutants in workplace air.
Limiting exposure to chemical substances
29/06/2017

Limiting exposure to chemical substances

The air we breathe, the food we eat, and the products that we handle in our daily lives lead to exposure to chemical substances that may be harmful for health. The public authorities therefore determine risk management values that are not to be exceeded. These values can apply to the general population or to specific populations, particularly in the occupational sphere.

These management values are based on reference values associated exclusively with health criteria. ANSES determines and recommends these reference values, which take into account both in vitro and in vivo studies, as well as available epidemiological data. Find out more about all the substances the Agency is working on and their associated reference values.

Publications

Document PDF
Health reference values
Thematique
Occupational health
Date de mise en ligne
11/02/2022
Numéro de saisine
2014-SA-0236