Delayed critique of formaldehyde by scientific advisers set to begin

An EPA analysis of formaldehyde, which is used to make hundreds of industrial and consumer products, will begin facing a long-delayed review by independent scientists on Wednesday.

A panel of scientists convened by the nation’s top science adviser, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, will hold its first meeting review a revised version formaldehyde evaluation the Environmental Protection Agency released in April. Rigorous National Academies exams often take more than a year.

According to the EPA, long-term exposures to small amounts of formaldehyde increase the risk of rare head and neck tumors, leukemia and other adverse health effects.

Information on formaldehyde, if finalized, will be used by EPA and state regulators to set air emission limits, decide whether uses of the chemical should be controlled, and make other decisions that affect business results and human health.

Misvaluation could lead to overly restrictive regulations that could harm the supply chain and consumers and producers in need of housing, wood products and other goods, said Sahar Osman-Sypher, senior director of the group. formaldehyde experts from the American Chemistry Council. Products based on formaldehyde technologies supported 961,000 jobs and $506 billion in sales in 2021, she said by email.

Between 1 billion and 5 billion pounds of formaldehyde have been produced or imported into the United States in recent years by chemical manufacturers, including Koch Industries Inc.; Hexion Holdings Corp., and the Celanese Corp.according to information provided by companies to the EPA in 2020.

The EPA analysis and scientific advisory body review are being welcomed by environmental health groups, while industry groups and some congressional Republicans have criticized the agency’s findings as unscientific. The academies’ analysis and procedures are fundamentally flawed by biases and other issues, the American Chemistry Council said.

Launched in 1997

The EPA began reviewing the chemical in 1997 and never finished.

This impasse is partly because formaldehyde is an important “commodity” chemical used to produce building materials, flooring, medical devices, automobiles and other products. In homes, it is found in composite wood products such as hardwood plywood, glues, etc., the EPA has said.

Groups opposed to any future control of formaldehyde point out that it is also produced in nature by plant, animal, bacterial and human metabolism.

EPA policy leadership blocked completion of formaldehyde review under Trump administration, a Government Accountability Office report completed in 2019.

“There have actually been efforts by the chemical industry and Congress to block the release of this report for over a decade,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who now chairs the commission. Senate for the Environment and Public Works, during a Surveillance hearing 2019.

But the EPA’s failure to clearly articulate its reasoning for drawing similar conclusions about the health effects of formaldehyde more than a decade ago prompted the National Academies committee in 2011 to explode this report and the process used to create it.

The agency has since revamped the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program that examines the health hazards of chemicals and the amounts of chemicals that could cause harm. And the national academies of science, engineering and medicine have welcomed the agency’s changes.

But the american chemistry board, Louisiana Chemical AssociationIndependent Lubricant manufacturers Association (ILMA), and Republican House members Mike Carey (Ohio), Robert E. Latta (Ohio), David P. Joyce (Ohio), and Bruce Westerman (Ark.) say scientific inaccuracies in the agency’s analysis and faulty procedures fundamentally undermine usefulness potential of the document.

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