When Scott Pruitt, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, selected a ornate desk last year, staff planned to make arrangements to protect him from the harmful effects of formaldehyde in the furniture, Politico said Thursday. But Pruitt delayed the publication of an EPA report warning the public of the dangers of … formaldehyde.
Helpers were ready to act when they noticed a Californian warning on a desk that Pruitt reflected that the furniture contained formaldehyde, a carcinogen found in compressed wood and many other products. It is not known if the desk was finally ordered.
But Act Deputy Chief of Staff Reginald Allen contacted Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, the then head of the agency's toxic chemicals agency, to ask for warning after emails from non-profit watchdog group American Oversight receive . She suggested airing the desk for days before placing it in Pruitt's office. Ironically, she commented that the "good news" is that California regulates "formaldehyde emissions" … so "exposure from your desk is probably good".
At that time, there was a federal agency ordinance limiting formaldehyde emissions put on hold by the Trump administration, Politico noted. In addition, a disturbing draft EPA report on the risks of the chemical, which was finalized during the Obama administration, has not yet been released by the EPO.
Pruitt, who resigned earlier this month under several ethical investigations, was asked for the formaldehyde report during a Senate hearing in January. "It is my understanding that the EPA has concluded that formaldehyde causes leukemia and other cancers," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) Then Pruitt.
The EPO chief replied, "You know, my understanding is similar to yours."
"The irony would be weird if not so dangerous," said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, in a statement.
The EPA has been hard-pressed by the chemical industry to delay the report. An important member of the lobby group of the American Chemistry Council ̵
Politico reported that Pruitt's staff, including Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson, effectively blocked the report by an internal review
Markey and two other senators sent a letter to Pruitt in May, expressing their concerns about that "politically appointed" employees uncovered the rating as the agency was harassed by companies with ties to people
EPA officials denied suppressing the draft or leaving Americans uncertain about the risks they face and continue to discuss the draft report with "our partners".
Formaldehyde is one of the largest chemicals commonly used in the nation. It is used in wood-based materials in furniture and cabinets as well as in cleaning products and cosmetics and is flushed into the air by oil refineries. Formaldehyde can be inhaled as a gas or vapor, or it can be absorbed through the skin in liquid form, according to the National Cancer Institute. The Federal Center for Disease Control says formaldehyde is "known to cause cancer."