EPA blocks warnings on cancer-causing chemical

Photo by Jessica Castro on Unsplash

Did you see this Politico story? Here’s a short list of just some of the popular consumer products that may contain toxic levels of formaldehyde: Cheap furniture made with plywood or pressboard. Hair products, especially keratin straighteners. Laminate flooring. Air fresheners and plug-in fragrance, and so on.

So now we know high levels of formaldehyde are associated with leukemia. Do we know how much? Not exactly, because traditionally, our government would rather let us get sick than demand that suppliers find less toxic ways of manufacturing. It should not be up to you, the consumer, to research and avoid every single one of these products. Only the federal government can address this at the root. This is one of the issues where CUFF hopes to raise consumer awareness:

The Trump administration is suppressing an Environmental Protection Agency report that warns that most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life to put them at risk of developing leukemia and other ailments, a current and a former agency official told POLITICO.

The warnings are contained in a draft health assessment EPA scientists completed just before Donald Trump became president, according to the officials. They saidtop advisers to departing Administrator Scott Pruitt are delaying its release as part of a campaign to undermine the agency’s independent research into the health risks of toxic chemicals.

Andrew Wheeler, the No. 2 official at EPA who will be the agency’s new acting chief as of Monday, also has a history with the chemical. He was staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2004, when his boss, then-Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), sought to delay an earlier iteration of the formaldehyde assessment.

Formaldehyde is one of the most commonly used chemicals in the country. Americans are exposed to it through wood composites in cabinets and furniture, as well as air pollution from major refineries. The new assessment would give greater weight to warnings about the chemical’s risks and could lead to stricter regulations from the EPA or class-action lawsuits targeting its manufacturers, as frequently occurs after these types of studies are released.

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