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NFDA Scores Victory With Budget Bill

Posted: January 13, 2011

NFDA recently scored a big win in its long-standing campaign to promote sound scientific evaluation of formaldehyde and its health risks. NFDA has been working though the American Chemistry Council (of which it is a member) to have the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) conduct a scientific review of formaldehyde. In the 2012 Omnibus Spending bill approved by Congress, there are two important provisions relating to formaldehyde and science. The Omnibus Spending Package, which totals $915 million, funds the government through September 2012.

First, Congress provided the Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS) with $1 million to contract with the NAS to evaluate all formaldehyde studies and to review the findings of the HHS National Toxicology Program (NTP), in which formaldehyde was, for the first time ever, listed as a carcinogen. The NTP finding has been the subject of much debate primarily because of its conclusion that formaldehyde exposure is likely to cause leukemia.

Second, Congress required EPA to adopt changes to its system for assessing chemical risk, called the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). NAS issued a report in April 2011 that reviewed EPA's IRIS assessment of formaldehyde that raised significant issues about EPA's findings with regard to leukemia. Since EPA's risk assessment was issued in June 2010, there have been a number of important studies that refute the finding that formaldehyde causes leukemia. The EPA will now have to ensure that all ongoing and future risk assessments are based on sound science, objectivity and transparency. All risk assessment released in 2012 will now be required to follow NAS' recommendations for assessing formaldehyde, which appear in its April 2011 report.

These two provisions address significant concerns that NFDA and other have voiced about the federal scientific review process for formaldehyde. NFDA expects that formaldehyde will continue to be a focal point for debate in 2012.

It is this kind of result, flowing from ACC's significant resources, that makes clear the value of NFDA's membership in ACC. NFDA is tracking formaldehyde developments and will continue to keep you informed in the coming year.