The National Academies of Science (NAS) issued its assessment of the cancer risks from formaldehyde, a common and highly toxic chemical found in our furniture, home building materials, and clothing. The National Academies conducted a thorough and rigorous scientific review, and concluded that it posed a threat to humans for three types of cancer: nasopharyngeal cancer; sinonasal cancer; and myeloid leukemia.
And, in 2009 the World Health Organization also confirmed the science that formaldehyde causes cancer in people.
What makes this NAS review novel is not the cancer findings, because those had already been identified by various international and national government scientific assessments. No, this review was politically motivated, the result of a campaign by the chemical industry and its allies in Congress to protect formaldehyde and styrene, another common chemical linked to cancer. Part of that effort has been a vicious attack on government scientific assessments, to distort and discredit any evidence linking toxic chemicals to diseases, disabilities, or death. In a “kill the messenger” campaign, the Report on Carcinogens – the prestigious biennial government report that alerts the public to chemicals that may cause cancer in people – was compelled to undergo review by the National Academies after it listed formaldehyde and styrene as “known” and “reasonably anticipated” to cause cancer, respectively.
This NAS formaldehyde...