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Industry Continues To Question Cancer Report

by Britt E. Erickson
March 25, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 12

The federal government used outdated criteria and flawed science to conclude in a 2011 report that formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and styrene is a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen, representatives of the chemical industry told members of two National Research Council (NRC) committees during a meeting last week. Environmental activists, on the other hand, asserted that industry has a financial interest in discrediting the government’s “Report on Carcinogens,” a biennial report produced by the National Toxicology Program under the auspices of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Industry has been fighting the listing of formaldehyde and styrene in the cancer report for years and successfully pressured Congress into earmarking $1 million in the 2012 HHS appropriations to support an NRC review of the listing of the two chemicals. NRC set up a separate committee for each chemical; the committees are expected to complete their reviews by August 2014. In the meantime, industry is urging HHS to stop all work on future cancer reports. A lawsuit filed against HHS in 2011 by the industry group Styrene Information & Research Center, for listing styrene in the report, is also still pending.


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