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Formaldehyde, readying the plot

Since we previewed the Senate Commerce subcommittee's hearing on formaldehyde in textiles and consumer products, a brief follow up. Judging from the testimony, yesterday's hearing remained factual and non-exploitative, but still provided more
foundation for litigation as well as legislation modeled on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Senator Robert Casey
(D-PA) is driving the issue, and according to the agenda, he opened the
hearing. Also testifying (click for prepared statements):

Dr. Ruth Etzel M.D., Ph.D, FAAP

Founding Editor
American Academy of Pediatrics' book on Pediatric Environmental Health

Dr. David Brookstein

Dean and Professor
School of Engineering and Textiles, Philadelphia University

Dr. Phillip J. Wakelyn
Wakelyn Associates, LLC

The hearing recalls the phthalates debate. Dr. Etzel, a pediatrician, emphasizes the risks to children and says Congress should adopt California's standards on formaldehyde in wood products. (See the phthalates precedent.)

Dr. Wakelyn was the odd man out, and he stated his position with pleasing clarity:

There have been no valid safety related problems raised in the US concerning the low levels of formaldehyde on clothing and textiles. In view of all the studies over the last 30 years indicting that there is not a formaldehyde problem with US textiles products and regulations already in place concerning formaldehyde and textiles, no new regulations are necessary. Because the evidence is so strong that formaldehyde in textiles does not pose a problem to consumers, there is no need for legislative or regulatory action concerning formaldehyde and textiles unless the results of the GAO study, required by Section 234 of the CPSIA which became law August 14, 2008, indicate that action is necessary.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.