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Review of the Formaldehyde Assessment in the National Toxicology Program 12th Report on Carcinogens (2014)

Chapter: Appendix B: Statement of Task of the Committee to Review the Formaldehyde Assessment in the National Toxicology Program 12th Report on Carcinogens

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Statement of Task of the Committee to Review the Formaldehyde Assessment in the National Toxicology Program 12th Report on Carcinogens." National Research Council. 2014. Review of the Formaldehyde Assessment in the National Toxicology Program 12th Report on Carcinogens. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18948.
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Appendix B

Statement of Task of the Committee to Review the Formaldehyde Assessment in the National Toxicology Program 12th Report on Carcinogens

A committee of the National Research Council will conduct a scientific peer review of the formaldehyde assessment presented in the National Toxicology Program (NTP) 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC). The committee will identify and evaluate relevant, publicly available, peer-reviewed literature, with particular emphasis on literature published as of June 10, 2011, the release date of the 12th RoC. The committee will document its decisions for inclusion or exclusion of literature from its evaluation and will identify the set of information deemed most critical to the evaluation. The committee will apply independently the NTP’s established RoC listing criteria to the scientific evidence from studies in humans, experimental animals, and other studies relevant to mechanisms of carcinogenesis and make independent level-of-evidence determinations with respect to the human and animal studies. The committee will integrate the level-of-evidence conclusions, and considering all relevant information in accordance with the RoC listing criteria, make an independent listing recommendation for formaldehyde and provide scientific justification for its recommendation.

Note: The NRC has an agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services to undertake a scientific peer review of the determinations concerning formaldehyde and styrene in the National Toxicology Program’s 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC). The expert committees appointed by the Academy for this assignment will follow standard Academy practices in carrying out their independent scientific reviews, which may include consideration of any and all issues that the committees and the Academy decide are necessary to carry out credible, independent, scientific evaluations of the two determinations, potentially including the criteria for the determinations. The statements of task for these two peer reviews were recently modified to make it clear that the NRC’s assignment does not also include a separate review of the National Toxicology Program’s listing criteria.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Statement of Task of the Committee to Review the Formaldehyde Assessment in the National Toxicology Program 12th Report on Carcinogens." National Research Council. 2014. Review of the Formaldehyde Assessment in the National Toxicology Program 12th Report on Carcinogens. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18948.
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Many people in the United States are exposed to formaldehyde. Exposure can occur from environmental sources (for example, combustion processes, building materials, and tobacco smoke) or in occupational settings (for example, the furniture, textile, and construction industries). Formaldehyde exposure also has endogenous sources--it is produced intracellularly as a component of the one carbon pool intermediary metabolism pathway. Scientists have studied formaldehyde for decades to determine whether exogenous formaldehyde exposure may be associated with cancer in humans. In 1981, The National Toxicology Program (NTP) first listed formaldehyde in the 2nd Report on Carcinogens as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen". In 2011, NTP upgraded the listing of formaldehyde to "known to be a human carcinogen". Following the new listing, Congress directed the Department of Health and Human Services to arrange for the National Academy of Sciences to independently review formaldehyde's substance profile and listing. This report presents the findings and conclusions of the committee formed in response to the congressional request.

Review of the Formaldehyde Assessment in the National Toxicology Program 12th Report on Carcinogens concurs with NTP that there is sufficient evidence in studies that had adequate characterization of relevant exposure metrics to enable a strong conclusion about the association between formaldehyde exposure and cancer in humans. Additionally, the authoring committee independently reviewed the scientific evidence from studies in humans, experimental animals, and other studies relevant to the mechanisms of carcinogenesis and made level-of-evidence conclusions. This report finds clear and convincing epidemiologic evidence of an association between formaldehyde exposure and nasopharyngeal and sinonasal cancers in humans.

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