EPA Officials Raised Concerns about Formaldehyde… in Scott Pruitt’s Desk

We can add “EPA chemical safety science” to the list of taxpayer funded benefits that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt kept for himself.

New emails uncovered by American Oversight show EPA employees were concerned about the level of formaldehyde in an ornate desk that Pruitt had sought to purchase for his office.

The emails emerged even as EPA officials have continued to block the release of a scientific report on the dangers of formaldehyde exposure.

In early 2017, newly-appointed Administrator Pruitt selected an ornate desk from Amazon and instructed staff to order it. One of the EPA staffers noticed that the Amazon product page included a California Proposition 65 warning – prompting them to ask EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention for an expert opinion.

EPA’s chemical safety office responded, suggesting that the desk likely contained formaldehyde. The official noted formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen, but thanks to California regulations governing formaldehyde emissions from wood products, the “desk is likely to be fine.”

Ultimately, EPA officials decided the safest course of action to limit Pruitt’s potential formaldehyde exposure would be to set up the desk in an EPA warehouse for several days to allow any vapors to dissipate.

The irony would be comical if this wasn’t so dangerous. Months after Pruitt got the benefit of EPA’s public safety experts looking out for his own health, he blocked the release of an EPA report on the dangers of formaldehyde.

According to Politico:

The Trump administration is suppressing an Environmental Protection Agency report that warns that most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life to put them at risk of developing leukemia and other ailments, a current and a former agency official told POLITICO.

The warnings are contained in a draft health assessment EPA scientists completed just before Donald Trump became president, according to the officials. They said top advisers to departing Administrator Scott Pruitt are delaying its release as part of a campaign to undermine the agency’s independent research into the health risks of toxic chemicals.

The new emails obtained by American Oversight are posted online here. You can view our full investigation into Trump officials’ office renovation expenses here.