Report on Carcinogens: Industry pressure postponed release

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released the 12th Report on Carcinogens, a science-based document that identifies chemicals and biological agents that may put people at 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. It is available at, as well as the Public Health Library’s Cancer Resources web page.

The listing of formaldehyde and styrene, two widely used chemicals, was fought by the chemical industry. Release of the report was held up, but the report was finally released a few weeks ago.

View the press release from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. View a blog post from the Natural Resources Defense Council describing the controversy.