WASHINGTON — The National Cancer Institute says in a study to be released today that it has found "little evidence" that formaldehyde causes cancer among the 1.3 million workers who are exposed to it in more than 50,000 factories.
"When compared to the general U.S. population, deaths from all causes and from all cancers among the exposed workers were about as expected," the institute said in a mortality study of 26,000 workers, the largest investigation yet of the widely used chemical. "Cancer overall was not related to formaldehyde exposure."
Unions Assail Study
The four-year study was strongly criticized by the United Auto Workers and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers.
They said the institute may be understating the cancer danger. And they criticized the involvement of the Formaldehyde Institute and officials of the Du Pont and Monsanto chemical companies in designing and writing the study.
The cancer institute reported a 32% "excess" in lung-cancer deaths among workers after 20 years from their first exposure to the substance and found higher-than-expected rates of upper-respiratory cancer.
But the institute said these increased cancers could not be linked to formaldehyde, because workers with longer and heavier exposure did not show higher cancer rates than those with less exposure.