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Balancing Chemical Regulations with Safety is Vital to the Health of Delaware’s Infrastructure and Economy

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

In the world of construction, safety and innovation go hand in hand. Recognizing the critical role the construction industry plays in driving a robust and thriving economy, we must strike a balance between strong regulation grounded in science and fostering growth. Recent discussions about the EPA’s overreach in regulating chemicals, particularly formaldehyde, have sparked debates about the future of construction in our state. While ensuring the well-being of our workforce is paramount, it is essential to recognize that overregulating chemicals like formaldehyde could have detrimental effects on Delaware’s construction sector.

Formaldehyde is a chemical compound widely used in various construction materials, including plywood, insulation, and adhesives, because of its unique ability to strengthen materials and improve their durability.

Concerns have arisen about its potential health risks, particularly with prolonged exposure of workers to high levels of formaldehyde. Protecting the health and safety of construction workers is a top priority for the construction industry. We are committed to upholding the highest standards for worker well-being and safety. In our state, stringent regulations are already in place to monitor and limit exposure to substances, including formaldehyde. Companies are required to adhere to strict guidelines, conduct regular safety training, and provide protective gear to workers. We take these measures seriously, and we are continually working to improve them.

However, overregulating chemicals like formaldehyde could inadvertently harm based on flawed science the construction industry in Delaware in several ways. Firstly, excessive regulations can drive up production costs. When manufacturers are forced to invest in costly alternatives or redesign their products, these expenses are often passed down to contractors and, ultimately, the clients. Higher construction costs could lead to reduced economic activity, decreased job opportunities, and potentially hamper the growth of our industry.

Furthermore, overregulation can stifle innovation. The construction sector is continually evolving, and chemical compounds like formaldehyde play a crucial role in developing new, more efficient building materials. Restricting or banning such chemicals could hinder the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly construction materials vital in our journey toward a greener future. We must balance environmental concerns and fostering innovation within our industry.

In Delaware, we pride ourselves on our open dialogue and collaboration with regulatory agencies and environmental organizations. We believe that a balanced approach to chemical regulation is essential, one that considers the industry’s need for innovation and growth, while also ensuring the health and safety of our workforce and the environment. We must avoid knee-jerk reactions that could have unintended consequences.

It’s important that we support measures that promote responsible chemical management, worker safety, and environmental stewardship. However, we should urge policymakers to engage with industry experts, conduct comprehensive risk assessments that consider all of the science, and consider the broader implications of chemical regulations on our state’s construction sector and others.

Chemicals like formaldehyde are integral to the construction industry, offering durability and innovation while supporting job creation and economic growth. While it is crucial to prioritize worker safety and environmental health, overregulating these chemicals could have detrimental effects on our industry. We must work collaboratively to strike a balance that allows us to continue building a brighter future for Delaware while protecting our workers and the environment.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.