NYT spreads more fear of carcinogens

Related articles

The New York Times would have you believe that chemical industry lobbyists have been thwarting government efforts to reveal that formaldehyde is a carcinogen. The U.S. government released its 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC) Friday, concluding that formaldehyde is a “known” carcinogen. The Times columnist Gardiner Harris believes this information is consistent with findings from the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. EPA, and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), but he’s misinformed. He even goes so far as to assert that these scientific bodies conclude that formaldehyde can cause some forms of leukemia. However, as ACSH pointed out immediately after the NAS formaldehyde report was published, the NAS actually stated that there is no biologically plausible explanation for how formaldehyde exposure can lead to leukemia. Other studies have also shown that formaldehyde and formaldehyde byproducts do not reach the bone marrow, where leukemia develops.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross emphasizes that the data do not support the claim that formaldehyde, as it is used in consumer products, is a carcinogen. “Many prestigious scientific agencies, including the NAS, have pointed out that the EPA Draft Report on Formaldehyde Toxicity is rife with errors and design flaws. However, excessive exposure to formaldehyde by employees, such as salon workers who use a formaldehyde solution for ‘Brazilian Blowouts,’ can lead to respiratory irritation such as asthma in those who already suffer from the condition, along with a sore throat, headache, and eye irritation. Workers should, of course, be aware of these symptoms and take care to follow all formaldehyde safety protocols.”

Mr. Harris also takes issue with the chemical industry for “pressuring” the National Toxicology Program into delaying the formaldehyde designation, taking no note of the fact that the conclusions were based on flawed data, which may have accounted for the industry’s opposition.