WDHB Dental Service response to formaldehyde concerns

16 May 2014
The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) confirmed today it would be inspecting and assessing its five mobile dental units following concerns raised that ceiling tiles in the units might produce formaldehyde fumes.
The WDHB would be taking preventative action after being informed last week that concentrations of airborne formaldehyde had been discovered in a Canterbury mobile dental clinic.
Medical Officer of Health Patrick O’Connor said the WDHB had been following advice given to Canterbury DHB. He was confident the health risk to staff and patients was very low given that formaldehyde is found in a number of household products including carpets, upholstery, clothing, wet strength paper towels and MDF building board.
The five mobile dental units positioned on site in schools around the WDHB district would be returned to Wanganui Hospital one at a time to be assessed.
Dental staff had met with WDHB dental health manager Barbara Dewson who would continue to meet with them and provide updates and support, as required.
While a mobile dental unit is unavailable, the dental staff assigned to it will work at other sites in the community and Wanganui Hospital campus. Patients would be informed if their appointment was cancelled and rescheduled.
Dr O’Connor said the WDHB would take into account laboratory results gathered from testing of mobile dental unit ceiling tiles in other parts of the country.