The EPA Really Doesn’t Want You To Know How Cancerous Formaldehyde Is

Remember a couple months ago when Americans learned that the government had buried a study with some alarming findings about chemicals in our drinking water? Apparently, that sort of thing has been a pattern under the Trump administration.

This time the vanished study deals with formaldehyde, a chemical so common that you’ll find it in body wash, cosmetics, cars and furniture. Newly resigned EPA Chief Scott Pruitt confirmed the study was ready to be released five months ago, but after taking a meeting with the American Chemistry Council’s Formaldehyde Panel, the research is still nowhere to be found.

The study should absolutely see the light of day. Given that the reported finding – that exposure to formaldehyde is likely linked to leukemia as well as nose and throat cancers – is so drastic, people have a right to know what government scientists have discovered.

However, the EPA seems to have granted more consideration to the Formaldehyde Panel’s concerns. The group’s leader, Kimberly Wise White wrote a letter expressing that releasing the study would “cause irreparable harm to the companies represented by the panel.” And what of the “irreparable harm” suffered by Americans who needlessly develop cancer from formaldehyde exposure?

New York Magazine helpfully reminds us that last year Pruitt sacked a bunch of scientists from the Science Advisory Board and instead appointed industry people to the board – including Ms. White herself! Could the consequences of cutting academics in favor of industry executives be any more obvious?

Quite responsibly, the magazine also notes that the MIA study still warrants some outside peer review to verify the results. Heck, writer Eric Levitz even contends that it’s justifiable for the chemical industry to raise some concerns. The problem, though, which Levitz also acknowledges, is that the EPA is allowing the industry to eliminate the research altogether before any scrutiny occurs.

For what it’s worth, the EPA has already given half a million dollars to the National Academies of Sciences to conduct peer review on this particular research; the NAS can’t complete the work though since the EPA won’t hand over the study. Sounds like both a waste of time AND money.

Will things get better under new, acting EPA director Andrew Wheeler? Considering that he used to be employed as a chemical lobbyist and he was part of a team that stalled previous formaldehyde research, the outlook doesn’t look bright.

In the past, the EPA has labeled formaldehyde a “probable carcinogen,” which is a safe way of acknowledging other studies without being obligated to pass regulations that keep American safe. If the most recent research were to be accepted and published, the EPA would have a much harder time justifying not taking legitimate regulatory action to protect the nation’s health.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

38 comments

Carole R
Carole R2 months ago

Noted.

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Debra G
Debra G2 months ago

Jamie C: I’m still hellbent on defending vaccines. Anti-vaxxers like you are responsible for the outbreaks of serious - even deadly - diseases like whooping cough, polio, and measles.

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Debra G
Debra G2 months ago

From the CDC website: Formaldehyde is used to inactivate bacterial products for toxoid vaccines, (these are vaccines that use an inactive bacterial toxin to produce immunity.) It is also used to kill unwanted viruses and bacteria that might contaminate the vaccine during production. Most formaldehyde is removed from the vaccine before it is packaged.

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heather g
heather g2 months ago

Can you imagine what it must be like for professional scientists to have their findings prevented from being known by the public? A few years ago that happened in Canada under the Conservatives who didn't want Fish & Wildlife to talk to the press about the dangers associated with fish farms.

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Shirley S
Shirley S2 months ago

Is formaldehyde a type of preservative.

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Winn A
Winn Adams2 months ago

Thanks

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Winn A
Winn Adams2 months ago

Noted

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Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons2 months ago

What do you think it does if you inject it into your body ?

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Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons2 months ago

DId you know that Formaldehyde is a common ingredient in Vaccines? Maybe you should look at some of the ingredients in those vaccines that you are so hell-bent to defend.

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Ruth S
Ruth S2 months ago

Thanks.

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