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Stricter regulation of formaldehyde remains uncertain despite classification as a carcinogen

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Late last week, the Department of Health and Human Services classified formaldehyde as “a known carcinogen,” adding its verdict to two similar reports released by key agencies since 2009.

But despite the growing scientific consensus about how formaldehyde can affect human health, it remains to be seen if the studies will lead to tighter U.S. formaldehyde regulations.

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As we’ve previously reported, the Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to update its chemical risk assessment for formaldehyde since 1998, but has been stalled repeatedly by the chemical manufacturing industry.

EPA assessments are the country’s gold standard for how dangerous a chemical is. The formaldehyde assessment would undoubtedly influence the stringency of a rule the EPA is developing on how much of the chemical can safely be released from construction materials that contain it

In 2009, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., maneuvered successfully to delay the assessment by putting a hold on the nomination of a key EPA appointee and forcing the agency to send its draft to the National Academy of Sciences for review.

Vitter has received substantial campaign contributions from the nation’s largest formaldehyde manufacturers and users. After the EPA agreed to send its assessment to the NAS, a top industry lobbyist, Charles Grizzle, threw Vitter a fundraising party, requesting donations of $1,000 a plate.

The NAS finished reviewing the EPA assessment in April, sending back a long list of questions and advising the EPA not to finalize the document until it could show exactly how formaldehyde causes cancer, a biological mechanism known as the “mode of action.”

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Dr. Peter Infante, a former director of the Office of Carcinogen Identification and Classification at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, called the NAS critique “arrogant” because “we don’t know the mode of action for most things that cause cancer.”

Christopher De Rosa, a former senior toxicologist for the Centers for Disease Control, said the HHS study might “galvanize the EPA’s political will to go forward with the risk assessment because it represents a convergence of opinions worldwide in terms of formaldehyde being a known carcinogen.”

A spokesperson for the EPA did not respond to questions about how the HHS report will affect the EPA’s risk assessment.

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The American Chemistry Council, a trade group that represents the chemical industry, said in a written statement that the HHS report flies in the face of the Obama administration’s commitment to sound science.

“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,” said Chemistry Council Chief Executive Cal Dooley.

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By Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica


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2020 Election

Intel official who briefed lawmakers on latest Russian meddling targeted for ouster by Trump White House: CNN

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During a discussion on the war on the intelligence community being waged by the Donald Trump's White House, CNN host Victor Blackwell stated that sources speaking with the network stated that the intel official who briefed lawmakers for both parties on new efforts by Russia to meddle in U.S. elections could be on the way out.

Speaking with contributor Lynn Sweet, Blackwell asked about the so-called "purge" being conducted by the White House.

"It sends the signal once again that President Trump is not a respecter of the United States intelligence services with the bigger issue that a permanent director has not been in that office since last summer when Dan Coates was forced out," Sweet explained. "This is a key position, subject to Senate confirmation and Trump hasn't seen fit to have a permanent director for months now."

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2020 Election

Trump’s latest national security adviser is undercutting FBI Director Wray to quash report of new Russian meddling: report

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In a scorching column for the Daily Beast, historian David Rothkopf accused Donald Trump's latest national security director, Robert O'Brien, of undercutting the United States intelligence services and uses his comments about recent reports of new Russian election meddling to make the case that he is contradicting FBI Director Christopher Wray to please the president.

According to Rothkopf, "For just over a century, since America arrived as a major force on the global stage, we have feared that should our enemies defeat us, it would be on the battlefield or via a devastating nuclear onslaught. We never could have imagined that an enemy might take another approach altogether: infecting us with a presidential virus who this week gutted our national security leadership structures like a fish."

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Decoding the Christian paradox: Evangelical historian explains how right-wingers ignore Jesus to support a corrupt and greedy president

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To quote the bumper sticker: "What would Jesus do?"

Assuming that he existed and held the views imputed to him, Jesus Christ would not support Donald Trump.

Donald Trump's behavior, values, policies and their consequences are the opposite of what Jesus Christ represented. Trump has put migrants and refugees in cages and delighted in their suffering. He feels contempt for the poor, the sick, the vulnerable and the needy. He has lied at least 16,000 times. He is corrupt and wildly greedy.

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