Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Formaldehyde: See No Evil…

I reported yesterday that the International Agency for Research on Cancer and determined that formaldehyde causes cancer in humans. The Bush administration and the chemical industry are not impressed.

The L.A. Times reports that the IARC warning:
contrasts with the approach taken by the Bush administration in February, when the Environmental Protection Agency approved an industry-backed rule intended to spare timber-product plants from strict formaldehyde emission controls.

In doing so, the EPA adopted a far more lenient assessment of formaldehyde risk.

Administration critics Tuesday characterized the international health group's action as a rebuke to the EPA's handling of the matter. At the same time, an industry representative downplayed the international decision, noting that the reclassification of formaldehyde was not a finding of actual risk.
Some were critical of the Bush administration
The Bush administration is out of step with the international community on yet another important issue for public health and the environment," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles). "It appears that EPA's recent plywood rule downplayed or disregarded scientific information that the World Health Organization finds to be credible and strong."

A prominent epidemiologist went further.

"If the leading international agency on cancer has reevaluated the data and declared formaldehyde to be a human carcinogen, it no longer seems right for the EPA and the White House to ignore these data," said David Michaels, who was assistant Energy secretary for environment, safety and health in the Clinton administration.