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  • ME Gov. LePage asked to reverse decision to scrap formaldehyde rule

    New National Report Confirms Formaldehyde Causes Cancer in Humans

    By Ramona du Houx

    A new report from the prestigious National Academy of Sciences calls into question the May decision by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to scrap its proposed rule to require manufacturers to disclose their use of formaldehyde in children’s products.

    The new report confirmed that exposure to formaldehyde, a widely used industrial chemical, causes cancer of the nose, nasal passage and upper throat, and also causes leukemia, in humans.  

    “Now that the nation’s top scientists have spoken, there are no more excuses for delaying protection of children’s health,” said Mike Belliveau, president of Prevent Harm, a leading public health organization based in Portland, Maine. “Governor LePage should listen to the scientists, not the Koch brothers and their chemical industry lobbyists, for a change.”

    Belliveau was referring to the 10 year campaign by Koch Industries to delay federal and state regulation of formaldehyde. Today, Prevent Harm also sent a letter to Gov. LePage and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), requesting swift action on the chemical.

    In May, the Maine DEP cited the then-pending federal science review as the reason for withdrawing its proposed rule to require manufacturers to disclose which children's products contain formaldehyde. The rule would have named the cancer-causing substance as a Priority Chemical under the Kid Safe Products Act, a groundbreaking state law that seeks to protect the health of children and pregnant women from harmful chemicals in everyday products.

    The LePage Administration scrapped its formaldehyde rule after aggressive lobbying by major formaldehyde producers, including Koch Industries, the industrial conglomerate owned by David and Charles Koch, the conservative Tea Party funders, with extremest views. Koch Industries is a co-founder and major funder of the Formaldehyde Panel of the chemical industry lobby group, the American Chemistry Council (ACC). In January 2014, the ACC Formaldehyde Panel testified in opposition to the now-dropped formaldehyde rule. Koch Industries and its lobby front groups have consistently downplayed the dangers of formaldehyde and protested the scientific listing of formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen by the federal government. 

    Common sources of formaldehyde in homes include pressed wood products used in cabinetry, walls and floors; consumer products such as fingernail hardeners, nail polish, wall paper and paints; permanent press fabrics used in clothing, linens and draperies; and combustion byproducts from stoves, heaters and smoking.