Koch Industries Backs Formaldehyde Council, Fighting Regulation of Carcinogen

The poor Koch family just can't get a break these days. First Brian wrote Billlionaire David Koch: 25 Years of Disinformation Campaigns and Polluter Front Groups?, then Matt followed with 'Financial Kingpin' of Climate Change Denial Exposed: Koch Industries Outspends Exxon 3-to-1. The New Yorker piled on with Jane Meyer's article about the Billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama and now we learn from Kevin Grandia of DeSmogBlog that they are behind the "Industry-led effort to downplay the links between formaldehyde and cancer."

Grandia writes in the Huffington Post:

Our research has uncovered very strong ties between Georgia-Pacific, a company co-owned by David Koch through Koch Industries, and a political lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council that is involved in efforts to downplay the dangers posed by formaldehyde to human health.

Formaldehyde is classified as a "Group 1 Carcinogen" which is defined as an agent that "is definitely carcinogenic to humans" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and "a complete carcinogen" in the words of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The National Toxicology Program also recently revised its characterization of formaldehyde to that of "known human carcinogen."

We have also noted on TreeHugger that it is linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. But the Formaldehyde Council disagrees, saying in a press release:

"Formaldehyde is one of the most thoroughly examined substances in existence. In fact, all living things -- including people -- produce and process formaldehyde. It occurs naturally in the air we breathe and does not accumulate in the environment or in plants, animals or people. Many scientists agree that at the low levels of formaldehyde to which people are typically exposed, there is essentially no risk since the body handles low doses every day. Americans should feel confident in the knowledge that safe products can be based on formaldehyde chemistry and it is already well-regulated by various government agencies."

DeGrandia notes that the chair of the Formaldehyde Council is Richard Urschel, the President of Georgia-Pacific's chemical division, controlled by the Kochs.

Formaldehyde is dangerous stuff at high doses. If we are going to get off fossil fuels and reduce our carbon footprint we have to build tighter buildings, and when we do that, formaldehyde concentrations rise. That is why it should not be in building products, which is exactly what Georgia Pacific makes. That is why we say Ban Formaldehyde.
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