Formaldehyde is now classified as a carcinogen. But, despite the growing scientific consensus about how formaldehyde can affect human health, it remains to be seen if the studies will lead to tighter U.S. formaldehyde regulations.
Lowe’s Companies Inc., the nation’s No. 2 home improvement chain, has set off a legal firestorm by agreeing to a $6.5 million national settlement over tainted drywall in a class-action suit being decided by Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters. The $6.5 million settlement would pay relatively small amounts — Lowe’s gift cards in amounts ranging from $50 to $2,000 — to most victims who had the tainted drywall in their homes. But the handful of attorneys who quietly negotiated the deal will receive a separate payment of $2.1 million.
NEW ORLEANS — For more than a year, the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity has insisted there were no defects in the Chinese drywall it used to build nearly 200 houses for victims of Hurricane Katrina, including many in its heavily publicized “Musicians’ Village’’ development in the Upper Ninth Ward. But a house-by-house canvas of Musicians’ Village by reporters from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and ProPublica found several homeowners who reported serious problems and one who said she had complained to Habitat for more than a year about corrosion and electronics failures believed to be related to her drywall.
When Sen. David Vitter persuaded the EPA to agree to yet another review of its long-delayed assessment of the health risks of formaldehyde, he was praised by companies that use or manufacture a chemical found in everything from plywood to carpet. As long as the studies continue, the EPA will still list formaldehyde as a “probable” rather than a “known” carcinogen, even though three major scientific reviews now link it to leukemia and have strengthened its ties to other forms of cancer.
As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the White House are trying to minimize their differences, a brewing battle at OSHA over a workplace injury reporting rule illustrates how tough that could become given the administration’s pro-labor leanings.
Dr. Howard Frumkin, the embattled director of a little-known but important division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been reassigned to a position with less authority, a smaller staff and a lower budget. For the past two years he had endured scathing criticism from Congress and the media for the CDC’s poor handling of public health problems created by the formaldehyde-contaminated trailers that the government provided to Hurricane Katrina victims.