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Part II – FORMALDEHYDE: The Science, The Truth, and The Industry’s Commitment to Objective Chemical Assessments

The following blog is a segment of a three part series regarding EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program.

Part II: The Truth

Media stories, fueled by false claims, have painted a picture that EPA has concluded there is a link between formaldehyde exposure and leukemia, and that “industry” is trying to cover it up. The truth is that industry has consistently called for any formaldehyde assessment to use transparent, science-based standards and has diligently supported peer-reviewed published studies that improve our understanding of formaldehyde and potential human health risk.

For decades, industry has invested tens of millions of dollars to ensure that the products of chemistry are safe for you, our communities, and the environment. Contrary to the implication that industry is trying to block chemical assessments, we remain committed to conducting scientific research and advocating for science-based regulation of the groundbreaking products that come from chemistry.  

The IRIS program has a troubling history in its approach to performing scientific assessments, including releasing draft conclusions before they could be fully vetted by EPA program office scientists and other federal agency scientists. When it comes to critically important issues like public health, we should be able to rely on programs with sound, science standards and processes.

EPA’s IRIS program has been criticized for years for producing substandard reports. In fact, the initial draft assessment of formaldehyde released in 2010 was widely criticized by the scientific community, including the National Academy of Sciences, for its lack of transparent and consistent scientific standards.

If you want to know the truth about formaldehyde, read the facts:

  • FACT: formaldehyde is naturally formed in the human body and exhaled in every breath. The IRIS program would have you believe that the normal amount of formaldehyde humans produce is dangerous and can cause cancer, despite the scientific evidence refuting that claim.
  • FACT: safe levels of formaldehyde exposure have been recognized and implemented by international scientific organizations. Whether it’s used in a glue for the production of plywood for home construction or to make plastic for fuel system components for cars or door and window insulation for modern airliners, products made with formaldehyde provide many benefits for consumers in the form of extended use, consistent quality and improved performance and safety.
  • FACT: there are decades of scientific data that support a safe level of formaldehyde exposure. According to these publicly-available peer-reviewed scientific articles, the low environmental levels of formaldehyde people may be exposed to are unlikely to cause negative health effects.

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