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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.

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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.”

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.”

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

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


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Bombshell report confirms Trump ‘repeatedly pressed’ Ukrainian leader to probe Joe Biden’s family

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A new report from the Wall Street Journal confirms that President Donald Trump over the summer "repeatedly pressed" Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

According to WSJ, Trump asked Zelensky an estimated eight different times to launch a probe of Hunter Biden in a move aimed at crippling Joe Biden's presidential campaign.

"He told him that he should work with [Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know," one of WSJ's sources claims. According to this source, however, Trump on this phone call made no mention of foreign aid and didn't offer Zelensky an explicit quid-pro-quo for his cooperation in investigating Biden.

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Yale psychiatrist on what the whistleblower scandal reveals about Trump’s ‘self-defeating pathology’

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On Thursday, information emerged that a whistleblower in the intelligence community had officially submitted a complaint suggesting that President Donald Trump had had a compromising discussion with a foreign leader.

As the news circulated Friday, commentators raised the possibility that Trump had offered the president of Ukraine a stronger relationship in exchange for dirt on Joe Biden.

Raw Story spoke with Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee, who has studied the president's erratic behavior.

Lee is a forensic psychiatrist and violence expert at Yale School of Medicine. She has been consulting with the World Health Organization since 2002, has taught at Yale Law School since 2003, and is author of the textbook, “Violence.” In 2017, she held an ethics conference that led to the public-service book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” and the World Mental Health Coalition. She also convened a panel to assess the president’s mental capacity and chairs a working group on a panel for performing presidential fitness-for-duty tests. She is hosting discussions on the need to speak about a president’s mental health at the Yale Law School and the School of Medicine this week.

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‘Impeachment time’: Conservative columnist says Pelosi must end her caution if Trump-Ukraine scandal is true

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Conservative columnist Max Boot, like fellow anti-Trump conservative Rick Wilson, had long supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) cautious approach when it comes to impeaching President Donald Trump.

But in his latest column, Boot argues that Pelosi cannot simply ignore the latest Trump scandal that involves allegedly strong-arming the Ukrainian government to help him dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

"If the new scandal involving President Trump and Ukraine is as bad as it seems -- and that is, of course, a very big if at this early stage -- the House will have no choice but to impeach, consequences be damned," he writes.

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