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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Future Waves of Cancer Litigation – Formaldehyde – Now An Acknowledged Carcinogen &#821

Formaldehyde. IARC and now EPA have deemed it a "known carcinogen." Go here for a collection of EPA’s work on formaldehyde.

The reaction? Chemical companies and others are worried. Proof? See below from theAmerican Conference Institute – the conference presenters work hard to stay ahead of the curve.

American Conference Institute’s 2nd National Forum on Chemical Products Liability & Environmental Litigation Develop cost-effective defense strategies and adapt to constantly evolving scientific standards, technologies, and regulations April 27 – 28, 2011 | Sutton Place Hotel | Chicago, Illinois

Attend unique and cutting-edge master classes accompanying ACI’s 2nd National Forum on Chemical Products Liability and Environmental Litigation

Formaldehyde exposure cases are predicted to become as prolific as benzene litigation. Recent studies have linked formaldehyde exposure to rare forms of cancer, the EPA has indicated that formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen (in its Toxicological Review of Formaldehyde Inhalation Assessment: In Support of Summary Information on the Integrated Risk Information System [IRIS] ), and a wave of litigation is all but imminent. Prepare yourself by attending the unique master class dedicated to understanding the science of formaldehyde, exposure pathways, and possible defense scenarios. This invaluable session, led by Lawrence Riff, a leading toxic tort litigator at Steptoe & Johnson, Dr. Jonathan Whysner, a preeminent medical toxicologist at Columbia University, and Steven Washburn, CEO of the environmental consulting firm Environ, will keep you one step ahead of the rest as this exciting field of litigation develops.

In addition, prepare for R.E.A.C.H. requirements in the U.S. EPA under the Obama Administration has been vigorously enhancing chemical regulations and labeling requirements. TSCA reform is fully underway and it is only a matter of time before the stringent EU standards are mirrored in the U.S. Attend this master class and learn to navigate the statutory framework of R.E.A.C.H. as ExxonMobil’s Ted Ray and Fulbright & Jaworski’s Jeff Margulies draw on parallels currently being implemented in the U.S. (CA’s Green Chemistry Initiative) and abroad.

Gain the edge you need over your competition and maximize your benefit from the Chemical Products conference; attend the post-conference master classes to learn about cutting edge litigation trends and international requirements that affect companies in the U.S.

At the main conference, meet, network, and learn from the nation’s leading in-house counsel from 13 of the top chemical, oil, and gas companies, includingAkzoNobel, Chevron, Dow AgroSciences, Dow Chemical Co., DuPont, ExxonMobil, Georgia Gulf Corp., Occidental Chemical, PPG Industries, Praxair, Sunoco, Shell Oil, and Solvay North America , who will participate on two separate panels tackling issues such as controlling litigation costs and resolving discovery challenges. The esteemed in-house participants will also be joining outside counsel experts on numerous substantive panels.


How are these effects being found? Old ways and new ways. For some insights into new ways, consider this abstract from a January 2011 medical journal article on disease in exposed workers.

"Formaldehyde, classified by the IARC as carcinogenic in humans and experimental animals, is a chemical agent that is widely used in histopathology laboratories. The exposure to this substance is epidemiologically linked to cancer and to nuclear changes detected by the cytokinesis-block micronucleus test (CBMN). This method is extensively used in molecular epidemiology, since it provides information on several biomarkers of genotoxicity, such as micronuclei (MN), which are biomarkers of chromosomes breakage or loss, nucleoplasmic bridges (NPB), common biomarkers of chromosome rearrangement, poor repair and/or telomere fusion, and nuclear buds (NBUD), biomarkers of elimination of amplified DNA. The aim of this study is to compare the frequency of genotoxicity biomarkers, provided by the CBMN assay in peripheral lymphocytes and the MN test in buccal cells, between individuals occupationally exposed and non-exposed to formaldehyde and other environmental factors, namely tobacco and alcohol consumption. The sample comprised two groups: 56 individuals occupationally exposed to formaldehyde (cases) and 85 unexposed individuals (controls), from whom both peripheral blood and exfoliated epithelial cells of the oral mucosa were collected in order to measure the genetic endpoints proposed in this study. The mean level of TWA8h was 0.16 ± 0.11 ppm (<detection limit until 0.51 ppm) and the mean of ceiling values was 1.14 ± 0.74 ppm (0.18–2.93 ppm). All genotoxicity biomarkers showed significant increases in exposed workers in comparison with controls (Mann–Whitney test, p < 0.002) and the analysis of confounding factors showed that there were no differences between genders. As for age, only the mean MN frequency in lymphocytes was found significantly higher in elderly people among the exposed groups (p = 0.006), and there was also evidence of an interaction between age and gender with regards to that biomarker in those exposed. Smoking habits did not influence the frequency of the biomarkers, whereas alcohol consumption only influenced the MN frequency in lymphocytes in controls (p = 0.011), with drinkers showing higher mean values. These results provide evidence of the association between occupational exposure to formaldehyde and the presence of genotoxicity biomarkers."

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