EPA Blocks Report on Formaldehyde’s Cancer Risk

A draft report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the dangers of formaldehyde has been suppressed for political reasons, current and former agency officials alleged. The report, produced by the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), could have led to increasingly strict regulation of the chemical and its manufacturers.

Formaldehyde is one of the most commonly used chemicals in the U.S., and Americans can be exposed to the agent through wooden furniture composites and air pollution. The report, allegedly blocked before it could complete the scientific review process within IRIS, warns that most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in their lifetimes to put them at increased risk of developing leukemia and other illnesses.

The EPA has denied that the assessment is being held back, despite former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stating in January that the report had been completed. EPA spokeswoman Kelsi Daniell indicated that the draft was still under consideration, saying that the “EPA continues to discuss this assessment with our agency program partners and [has] no further updates to provide at this time.”

The decision to block the report has drawn criticism from health advocates, as well as certain members of Congress who see the move as a politically-motivated attack on a scientific finding. “Delaying the EPA’s latest assessment of the health risks of formaldehyde only further endangers the health of Americans,” Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said in a statement.

Source: Politico, July 6, 2018.