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The Safety of Formaldehyde Is Well-Studied and Supported By Robust Science


Contact: Name Liz Bowman (202) 249-6509  
Email: Liz_Bowman@americanchemistry.com

ACC Contends New NRC Report Misses an Opportunity to Advance the Science

WASHINGTON (August 8, 2014) – In a report released today, a committee of the National Research Council (NRC) accepted the listing of formaldehyde as a “known human carcinogen” as recommended in the National Toxicology Program (NTP) 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC), issued in 2011. The NRC committee did not reach any new conclusions in applying the RoC listing criteria.

“To view today’s NRC report in context, it is important to note that formaldehyde can continue to be safely used,” said Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). “The NTP itself has said that the listing in the RoC ‘does not establish that such substances present a risk to persons in their daily lives.’ Further, the NRC committee noted that the RoC listing focuses on identification of substances that may pose a hazard to human health. Much more information, including exposure, is needed to understand risk.”

Formaldehyde is safely used as a building block chemical for many products. Formaldehyde has been thoroughly reviewed at the federal level and its use is subject to regulation in consumer products and in the workplace. The scientific literature is clear that there is no increased health risk from low-level exposures normally found in home or work environments.

“Today’s NRC report appears to conflict with the findings and recommendations made in a separate NRC committee’s review of EPA’s draft formaldehyde Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment,” said Jackson Morrill, director of ACC’s Formaldehyde Panel. “In 2011, that NRC committee reviewed EPA’s analysis of the evidence for lymphohematopoietic cancers and noted ‘inconsistencies in the epidemiologic data, the weak animal data and the lack of mechanistic data.’” Morrill added.

“We are perplexed as to why today’s report differs so greatly from the 2011 NRC committee report on the EPA’s draft formaldehyde IRIS assessment, which considered the same scientific data,” said Dooley. “This reinforces the need for a comprehensive and fully integrative analysis of formaldehyde science in the U.S. Unfortunately, this committee was directed to apply existing RoC criteria, which have not incorporated recent recommendations for integration of evidence, such as those in Chapter 7 of the NRC 2011 report.”

“ACC continues to urge 21st century risk and hazard assessment procedures be applied by all public health agencies and that they rigorously integrate the totality of the evidence across all data streams when making risk or hazard determinations, as outlined in the NRC 2011 report,” Dooley concluded.

The ACC Formaldehyde Panel includes producers and users of formaldehyde. These members maintain a strong stewardship commitment to public health and the use of cutting-edge science to support the continued safe use of this important chemical.

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