Contact: Bryan Goodman (202) 249-6510 (O) | (202) 997-1606 (M)
Department Ignores White House Commitment to Science-based Decisions
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 10, 2011)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) National Toxicology Program (NTP) today released the 12th Report on Carcinogens (12th RoC). The following statement can be attributed to
, President and CEO, American Chemistry Council.
"We are extremely concerned that politics may have hijacked the scientific process and believe this report by HHS is an egregious contradiction to what the President said early in his administration, '…That science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my administration…'
"Today's report by HHS made unfounded classifications of both formaldehyde and styrene and will unnecessarily alarm consumers. The HHS designation on formaldehyde ignores the finding from the independent, government-mandated National Academy of Sciences report which strongly questioned whether the scientific evidence supports a connection between formaldehyde and leukemia.
"Regarding styrene, it is important to note that today's report does not change FDA's approval of the safe use of polystyrene in food packing. Consumers can be confident that polystyrene products have been used safely for 50 years."
Formaldehyde is a simple chemical compound made of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, with the formula CH
O. Because of their versatility, formaldehyde-based technologies are used to produce a wide range of materials for residential construction, auto manufacturing, civilian and military aircraft equipment and health care applications. Products derived from formaldehyde have an extremely broad role in the economy, impacting the employment of 600,000 U.S. workers and indirectly impacting an additional three million people.
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In addition to its use in making polystyrene, styrene is naturally present in foods such as strawberries, beef, beer, and cinnamon and is naturally produced in the processing of foods such as wine and cheese.
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About the 12th RoC
To put its recent report in perspective, NTP states: "It is important to note that the reports do not present quantitative assessments of carcinogenic risk… Listing in the report does not establish that such substances present a risk to persons in their daily lives. Such formal risk assessments are the purview of the appropriate federal, state, and local health regulatory and research agencies." So NTP has not concluded that formaldehyde, styrene or plastic foodservice packaging made with styrene present any risk to human health.