On June 20, 2011 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its bi-annual Report on Carcinogens (RoC) as a part of the federally mandated National Toxicology Program (NTP). The addition of eight substances brings the list of scientifically tested substances to a staggering 240. The RoC is a scientific and public health document that provides information about the relationship between the environment and cancer. Substances listed are identified as agents, substances, mixtures, or exposures (collectively called substances) that may potentially put people in the United States at an increased risk for cancer.
The industrial chemical formaldehyde and a botanical known as aristolochic acids are listed as known human carcinogens. Six other substances — captafol, cobalt-tungsten carbide (in powder or hard metal form), certain inhalable glass wool fibers, o-nitrotoluene, riddelliine, and styrene — are added as substances that are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens. With these additions, the 12th Report on Carcinogens now includes 240 listings.
"Reducing exposure to cancer-causing agents is something we all want, and the Report on Carcinogens provides important information on substances that pose a cancer risk," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of both the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP). "The NTP is pleased to be able to compile this report."
John Bucher, Ph.D., associate director of the NTP added, "This report underscores the critical connection between our nation's health and what's in our environment."
Nomination of a substance to the list puts in motion a series of testing and evaluation procedures, including input from the scientific, public and private sectors. Established criteria and scientific expertise from the following federal agencies is considered: the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"The strength of this report lies in the rigorous scientific review process," said Ruth Lunn, Dr.P.H., director of the NTP Office of the Report on Carcinogens. "We could not have completed this report without the significant input we received from the public, industry, academia, and other government agencies."
Of significance is the fact that the NTP listed Formaldehyde as one of the new substances. Originally listed on the 2nd Report on Carcinogens as a human carcinogen, Formaldehyde showed to cause nasal cancer in rats. The 12th RoC finds ample evidence to state that people with significant exposure to formaldehyde are at “increased risk for certain types of rare cancers, including nasopharyngeal (the nasopharnyx is the upper part of the throat behind the nose), sinonasal, as well as a specific cancer of the white blood cells known as myeloid leukemia
(Mackar, 2011).” Formaldehyde is often thought of as a preservative for biological specimans, however, this colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical is used extensively in household items, such as composite wood products, paper product coatings, plastics, synthetic fibers, and textile finishes as well as hair care products.
The 12th ROC in its entirety can be found at http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/roc12.
Mackar, R. (2011, June 10). 10 June 2011: New substances added to HHS Report on Carcinogens. Retrieved June 15, 2011, from National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, The National Institutes of Health. : http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/releases/2011/roc/