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Biocidal Products: Formaldehyde

Volume 718: debated on Monday 29 March 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the biocidal products directive (98/8/EC) on funeral practices in the United Kingdom, especially the embalming of bodies with formaldehyde prior to burial. [HL2892]

No specific assessment has been made of the impact of the biocidal products directive on the use of formaldehyde in the embalming process or more generally on funeral practices in the United Kingdom. When the Biocidal Products Regulations 2001 were drafted to implement the biocidal products directive in Great Britain, a regulatory impact assessment was prepared by the Health and Safety Executive using the best available information. Compliance costs of the Biocidal Products Regulations for industry as a whole were estimated over and above those for existing national legislation, and industry was consulted.

Embalming and taxidermist fluids is one of 23 biocidal product types identified in the biocidal products directive. Formaldehyde (often as formalin, a solution of formaldehyde gas in water) is widely used as a disinfectant, preservative and for antifouling and vertebrate control. The embalming industry is, therefore, not alone in having to support active substances used in its products through the review process required by the directive, and may wish to work with other sectors to share costs as appropriate.