Yes Virginia, There is a Pro-Cancer Lobby

by jim on October 7, 2012

The New York Times' Nicolas Kristof, who's established himself as one the nation's leading editorialist on the harms of what he calls "Big Chem," has another excellent piece in the Sunday edition.

Using the curious case of Formaldehyde, the carcinogen that isn't one according to the people who make money manufacturing it, Kristoff draws a portrait of the kind of industry-fueled professional obfuscation that Big Tobacco, Big Oil and Every other Big Industry of the last 60 years has used to escape necessary regulation.

Part of this strategy is to block, delay and bury information that proves your product's guilt, and so it is with Formaldehyde, something most of us think we only run across in High School biology labs. As it turns out, the chemicals is used in a wide variety of products and our homes are full of it. Our general exposure to formaldehyde has increased. This use and exposure has risen even as the World Health Organization and American scientists have concluded that formaldehyde causes cancer.

And so a seemingly innocuous document like the 500-page "Report on Carcinogens" from the National Institutes of Health becomes a real threat to the manufactured "uncertainty" the chemical industry has spent so much to construct.

“Formaldehyde is known to be a human carcinogen,” declared the most recent Report on Carcinogens, published in 2011. Previous editions had listed it only as a suspected carcinogen, but the newer report, citing many studies of human and animal exposure to formaldehyde, made the case that it was time to stop equivocating."

This conclusion made the report an instant target. Industry got its supporters in the house to demand a follow-up study for Formaldehyde and that no other Reports on Carcinogens be published with the new consensus language on its cancer-causing impacts.

So a chemical that the science says is clearly a carcinogen is still being sold in lots of household products as if it was perfectly safe thanks to folks who, collectively, make up what might be called the "pro-cancer lobby."

Besides all of us being exposed to Formaldehyde through consumer products, people who live in places where natural gas is being mined, like the Barnett Shale, as well as those downwind of waste-burning cement plants, like the ones in Midlothian, get dosed with more of the stuff. So, you know, we're doubly-blessed in DFW.

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