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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Your House May be Killing You

For millennia, humans have protected themselves from the environment by building homes of some kind or another. Housing protects you, right? Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times suggests that homes may now be potential killers because the materials that go into the construction of modern homes contain various amounts of formaldehyde that may send out fumes that we breath. Why is this important? Because those fumes are carcinogenic.
The chemical industry is working frantically to suppress that scientific consensus — because it fears “public confusion.” Big Chem apparently worries that you might be confused if you learned that formaldehyde caused cancer of the nose and throat, and perhaps leukemia as well.
The industry’s strategy is to lobby Congress to cut off money for the Report on Carcinogens, a 500-page consensus document published every two years by the National Institutes of Health, containing the best information about what agents cause cancer. If that sounds like shooting the messenger, well, it is.
The chemical industry was outraged, because it sells lots of formaldehyde that ends up in people’s homes, often without their knowledge.
 “Nearly all homes had formaldehyde concentrations that exceeded guidelines for cancer and chronic irritation,” according to a 2009 survey by the California Energy Commission.
Kristoff notes that we have had two previous major bouts of denial on the part of manufacturers of carcinogens--asbestos and tobacco. Eventually public opinion caught up with science on both of those because everyone's good health (except maybe that of the producers of carcinogens) is at stake.

1 comment:

  1. Well, housing is one of the basic needs of people and should be considered by the goverment accordingly. Housing projects should be passed the basic standards. In singapore I observed that the government is emphasizing the importance of health through well-developed real estate units.