Draft assessment finds formaldehyde to cause cancer and other human health risks


Washington (December 10, 2018) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep its promise to move forward with its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) formaldehyde risk assessment, which had been stalled by political appointees at President Donald Trump’s EPA. During the nomination process for Peter Wright to serve as EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management, the EPA made a commitment to abide by the normal IRIS process and timeline.


Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, during questioning at an EPW hearing in January 2018, indicated that the health study had been completed and was ready for public review. In May, Senators Markey, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and EPW Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) calledon the EPA to stop delaying the publication of the formaldehyde health assessment.


“No matter the final disposition of Mr. Wright’s nomination, the EPA should keep its promise and move forward with the release of the long-overdue formaldehyde report,” said Senator Markey. “The EPA has succumbed to pressure from industry for far too long, endangering the public’s health. I urge the EPA to ensure that there are no more efforts to delay or block the publication of this assessment.”


The health assessment in question was begun under the Obama administration and completed in the fall of 2017. It examines the health effects of formaldehyde exposure, a common household chemical found in manufactured wood products and some paints and fragrances. Once finalized, the health study would form part of the scientific foundation for decision making across the EPA. A draft of this assessment indicated that formaldehyde was linked to specific cancers and other human health risks.