In the spring of 2017, as Pruitt was finishing the more than $9,500 redecoration of his office, a top career official in the administrator's office noticed a California warning that one of the ornate desks their boss wanted contained formaldehyde, which the state classifies as a carcinogen. [...] After seeing the warning, acting deputy chief of staff Reginald Allen reached out to Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, the career official then serving as acting head of EPA's toxic chemicals office [...]
"Sorry to bother you with this but we need some help. The desk the Administrator wants for his office from Amazon has a California Proposition 65 warning. What I am asking is can someone in your area tell us whether it is OK to get this desk for the Administrator related to the warning?" [...]
The email exchange about the desk last spring took place just months before top aides to Pruitt took steps to block a health assessment produced by another division within the agency that found the levels of formaldehyde that many Americans breathe in daily are linked with leukemia, nose-and-throat cancer and other ailments. The chemicals industry has fought the assessment, which could prompt federal and state regulators to issue new restrictions on the chemical, and could lead to class-action lawsuits. [...]
"You can add 'EPA chemical safety science' to the list of taxpayer funded benefits that Scott Pruitt kept for himself. The irony would be comical if this wasn't so dangerous. Months before Scott Pruitt blocked the EPA's report on the dangers of formaldehyde to public health, he got the benefit of EPA's safety experts looking out for his own health," Evers said in a statement.
Then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's staff sought to protect him from exposure to toxic formaldehyde from an office desk last year, emails show -- just months before his top political aides blocked the release of a report on health dangers from the same chemical.