REPORT OF THE DAY: Index of leading environmental indicators (4/28/99) The Pacific Research Institute questions whether the increasing cost of pollution control is worth the shrinking benefits realized. Click here for the fact sheet. Click here for the full report.
"Put cigarettes on prescription" (4/28/99) The BBC reports "Cigarettes should be treated like pharmaceuticals and be available only on prescription, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said."
"Group's Surprising Beef With Meat Industry; Study ranks production of beef, poultry and pork as second to automobiles in ecological cost " (4/28/99) The San Francisco Chronicle reports "Environmentally speaking, the worst thing you can do for the planet is drive your sport utility vehicle to the local steak house for a prime sirloin. That, at least, is the contention of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental advocacy group that has just completed a new analysis of the ecological costs of various activities and products."
"Doctors have 'misunderstood' asthma " (4/28/99) Instead of spending tens of billions of dollars annually to comply with the EPA's new air quality standards -- regulations that will probably have little-to-no effect on asthma incidence -- why not spend public resources on research that will lead to improved treatments and perhaps a cure?
University of Buffalo allows dentist to put out media release on lawn chemicals (4/28/99) A response to Lawn Doctor?
"7 Groups Quit Food Panel; EPA Termed Soft On Pesticide Risks" (4/28/99) The Washington Post reports "All of the environmental, consumer and public interest members of the federal government's food quality advisory panel resigned in protest yesterday, accusing the Clinton administration of allowing the agriculture and chemical industries to "hijack" a 1996 law aimed at protecting children from toxic pesticides."
"U.S. Senators Unveil Alternative To Climate Treaty" (4/28/99) Only in America do you need a law to implement a voluntary program. This bill would also create an Office of Global Climate Change within the Department of Energy -- located right down the hall from the Office of Ghosts and Gobblins.
"Pollutants Found In House Dust Increase Pesticide's Toxicity" (4/28/99) With no supporting real-world health effects data, this is just laboratory nonsense.
"Boost for Gulf War Syndrome research" (4/28/99) The BBC reports "The UK and US are to share more information on Gulf War Syndrome to further understanding of the mysterious illnesses suffered by many servicemen since the 1991 conflict."
"Wealth warning over heart disease" (4/28/99) The BBC reports "Incidence of coronary heart disease is falling among the better off but rising among poorer people, a study has found."
"Where the Boys Are: Sex Ratios and Environment" (4/27/99) Mike Gough writes in Regulation Magazine about sex ratios and endocrine disrupters. [Note: This document is in PDF format.]
Rad-berries? (4/27/99) The Associated Press reports "Health inspectors in Moscow markets have found radioactive cranberries, apparently infected by lingering fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a newspaper reported Tuesday."
"Fertility drugs not linked to increased cancer risk " (4/27/99) Reuters reports "Contradicting previous studies, a new study from Israel found no link between fertility drugs and an increased risk of ovarian and breast cancer."
A MUST READ: "Lies, Damned Lies & 400,000 Smoking-Related Deaths" (4/27/99) By Robert Levy (senior fellow, Cato Institute) and Rosalind Marimont (mathematician, retired from the National Institute of Standards and Technology). [Note: This document is in PDF format.]
"GM regulation on horizon" (4/27/99) The BBC reports "Genetically-modified (GM) food may be subject to new regulations, the government has revealed."
JUNK OF THE DAY: "Radon more damaging to genes than thought, study says" (4/27/99) This study exposed hamster cells to three to eight alpha particle "hits." Unfortunately for these researchers and this headline, the average homeowner rarely experiences more than one hit during a lifetime. A recent Columbia University study reported that one hit had no effect on mouse cells -- not to mention the radon epidemiology does not bear out any risk from low-level exposures.
"Economics and environmentalism" (4/27/99) Mitzi Perdue thinks environmentalists and economists are a good match. In one way she's right -- both are usually wrong.
"Health benefits of low-sulfur gasoline outweigh costs, study reveals" (4/27/99) You will remember study author George Thurston from the 1997 clean air battles and, more recently, his opposition to the data access law. Thurston is a thoroughbred junk scientist who fears having his results independently reviewed. I have no doubt that Thurston has wildly overestimated the health benefits. Note that this study was presented at the American Lung Association's annual conference in San Diego -- probably without being independently peer-reviewed.
"Regulators, Rocketdyne Ties Probed" (4/27/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "State health officials said they did not release the findings because they believed that the study's methodology was flawed and did not consider other factors such as smoking. In addition, the study did not find evidence of any red-flag illnesses such as leukemia, which would have alerted officials to possible contamination."
"Delivering science to the public" (4/26/99) Nature Medicine editorializes, "Scientists must resist the temptation of hyperbole, as attention-grabbing as it may be, and find a more meaningful way of getting across their excitement and pleasure in the latest findings. They must also be willing to discuss more openly with the media times of disagreement and dispute, as these will always be part of an adventurous and healthy scientific community. The media have a tremendous influence on how the public sees science and, in turn, on science policy, as there are policy makers the world over who react most strongly to public sentiment. Closer cooperation between researchers, editors and journalists is needed to present a more articulate, accurate and deeper understanding of science." [Note: You will need to register (FREE) at the Nature Medicine site to read the full article.]
"Eat your genes: how safe are GM crops?" (4/26/99) The cover story in this week's Nature.
"The Week That Was April 19-25, 1999" (4/26/99) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
Bookmark update: Address change for Philip Stott's Tropical Ecology Web Site (4/26/99) The new address is www.ecotrop.org. Get the "antidote to false ecology!"
"Ottawa knew toy with plastic softener posed very little risk; Vinyl industry monitored Greenpeace drive against use of material, documents show" (4/26/99) "Health Canada issued an advisory last year recommending that parents throw away vinyl toys containing a controversial plastic softener even though it conducted a risk assessment that found almost no children would be hurt by exposure to the material, documents obtained by The Globe and Mail indicate."
"Abbott Shreholders vote down bid to phase out use of a plastic" (4/26/99) Three cheers for Abbott Labs' management and shareholders!
"Well-Done Research: New recipes for making seriously browned meats less of a cancer risk" (4/26/99) Science News' Janet Raloff writes ANOTHER dumb article. The studies that do claim well-done meat causes cancer are generally pretty easy to debunk. Click here for an example.
'Plant pesticides;' What's in a name? (4/26/99) EPA is soliciting comment on a request to substitute an alternative name for the term "plant-pesticide." You can e-mail your suggestion to email@example.com. Don't forget to include the docket control number OPP-300369A.
"Power-Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields and Risk of Childhood Leukemia in Canada" (4/26/99) A study in the May 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiolgy reports "little support for a relation between power-frequency electric and magnetic field exposure and risk of childhood leukemia."
"And yet, the Earth is getting greener" (4/26/99) The Daily Telegraph comments "Despite what environmentalists claim, it is largely market economics, not regulation, that improved the environment."
Bruce Ames wins National Medal of Science (4/26/99) Congratulations Bruce!
"Young and Rubenesque? The good news is..." (4/26/99) From Science News (Apr 24.): "Young women tend to be very self-conscious about their figure, especially because so few are blessed with both the genes and willpower to achieve the svelte Uma Thurman look. Indeed, many find their shape evolving instead towards a modified Rosanne Barr physique. As these latter women wrestle with self-esteem issues within a society that prizes sleek over ample, they can take heart in at least one new study. It finds that their apple shape puts them at lower risk for breast cancer than those celery stalks gliding down fashion runways." Click here for the study abstract.
"Episodes of High Coarse Particle Concentrations Are Not Associated with Increased Mortality" (4/26/99) Harvard's Joel Schwartz tries to shore up his claim that fine particles are associated with incerased mortality.
"Does an Association between Pesticide Use and Subsequent Declines in Catch of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) Represent a Case of Endocrine Disruption?" (4/26/99) This article is published without the researchers' even testing the effects of pesticides on Salmon smolt.
"PM2.5 and Mortality in Long-term Prospective Cohort Studies: Cause-Effect or Statistical Associations?" (4/26/99) Here's an exchange of letters from the May Environmental Health Perspectives. Click here for the attack and here for the response.
USA Today debate: "Concealed weapons laws" (4/26/99) The USA Today view is the Columbine High tragedy "exposes [the] fallacy of [the] 'more guns, less crime' argument." The opposing view is "studies show crime rates fall after states pass laws."
"Speeders: Crackdown? What Crackdown?" (4/25/99) A Washington Post article with lots about speeding -- but nothing about accident rates.
"Meningitis fear over gene-modified crops" (4/25/99) The Sunday Times (UK) reports "Government scientists have warned that genetically modified (GM) crops already in the fields pose a potentially catastrophic risk to health. Research indicates that altered genes in GM crops may pass to other organisms. Scientists say the genes could jump species and transform bacteria which cause disease. Concern is focused on two crops being cultivated in Spain and America which research suggests could unleash untreatable and potentially fatal new strains of meningitis and other diseases. Although the risk is small, the government's Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes has opposed the planting and selling of the maize and cotton crops... The problem centres on two GM crops - Monsanto Roundup Ready Cotton and a maize crop made by Novartis - which contain antibiotic-resistance genes used in the process of creating the plant. Once the plant is growing, the genes have no function but could, scientists say, jump to other organisms and make them resistant to antibiotics. In the maize, the antibiotic gene could ultimately lead to the creation of an untreatable form of meningitis. In the cotton, the antibiotic resistance could give birth to a new strain of gonorrhoea. Experts have repeatedly called for the use of antibiotic-resistant genes to be strictly controlled in GM products. There is growing evidence that these plant genes could get into the mouths of humans and transform disease-causing bacteria. Monsanto and Novartis defended the safety of their crops. Novartis said there was no conclusive scientific evidence that the antibiotic resistance gene posed any health risk."
Gorbachev out-greens Gore (4/25/99) The Washington Times reports (Apr. 25) former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has expressed strong concern over the environmental impact of the conflict in Yugoslavia. "The massive destruction of oil refineries, petrochemical plants, chemical and fertilizer factories, pharmaceutical plants and other environmentally hazardous enterprises puts both the population and natural environment in the balkans under clear threat," said Gorbachev who is president of the Geneva-based environmental organization Green Cross International.
Chernobyl and thyroid cancer (4/25/99) The Washington Times reports (Apr. 25) that a ten-fold increase in thyroid cancer has been recorded in the Ukraine since the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant 13 years ago. According to the report, 1,217 young Ukrainians developed thyroid cancer since the explosion released to the atmosphere 50 million curies of radioactivity -- equivalent to 500 of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima. While there probably has been an increase in thyroid cancer incidence since the accident, the magnitude cannot be stated with certainty. Records of cancer rates before the explosion were maintained by the Soviet government. Between the absence of concern over human welfare, state security and the "efficiency" of Soviet bureaucrats, the "before" rate of thyroid cancer is probably unreliable.
"Will World Population Continue to Boom?" (4/25/99) Carolyn Lochhead writes in the San Francisco Chronicle "Yet economics demonstrates that as wealth rises, population growth slows, the so-called 'demographic transition' from high fertility and mortality to low fertility and mortality."
"Earth Day finds a few in Congress becoming a tad greener" (4/25/99) The Cincinnati Post's Bill Straub hails command-and-control environmentalism.
"In Europe, Cuisine du Gene Gets a Vehement Thumbs Down" (4/24/99) The Washington Post reports on the status of genetically-modified crops in Europe.
"Channel Islands Fox Faces Extinction, Scientists Warn" (4/24/99) One nit with this story: we're supposed to believe that DDT selectively wiped out the bald eagle population, but not the golden eagle population? Sounds like, the bald eagle population was wiped out by by something else, say hunting, not DDT.
"Beryllium safety standard is inadequate, federal official says" (4/24/99) NIOSH calls 1,200 documented cases of beryllium disease over more than 50 years "one of our high priorities."
"US playgrounds get a C- in safety" (4/24/99) The National Program for Playground Safety says the majority of America's playgrounds "are unfit for children." The Consumer Product Safety Commission made this same pronouncement several weeks ago. Hmmm....
"No link between hypnotism and madness" (4/24/99) The BBC reports "Hypnosis cannot cause mental illness, a conference on hypnotherapy will hear."
"The Mudslinging in the Wetlands" (4/24/99) The Los Angeles Times reports on a project that "has pitted environmentalists against one another, created unusual alliances among pro-environment politicians and developers and ignited a publicity nightmare for DreamWorks studio chiefs Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen."
George Lucier criticizes the Society of Toxicology (4/23/99) George Lucier, NIEHS scientist and editor of Environmental Perspectives, criticizes the Society of Toxicology for urging the use of mechanistic toxicology to debunk equivocal epidemiology but not using the same sort of information to establish risk in the face of equivocal epidemiology. Hey George, equivocal epidemiology means there probably is no risk -- I can't think of an example where it didn't. Click here for more on Lucier.
"Jury gives $ 700,000 to dairy farmers for losses blamed on 'stray voltage'" (4/23/99) The Associated Press reports "A jury awarded owners of a dairy farm $ 700,000 after deciding that "stray voltage" from an automated feeding system slashed the herd's milk output and increased the death rate among the Jersey cows."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Chronicles of earthly hyperbole" (4/22/99) Fred Singer writes in the Washington Times about Earth Day.
"Dangerous Myths" (4/23/99) The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review comments "Those enlisting in the effort to combat ``suburban sprawl'' make many a wild claim. From scare-tactic contentions that farmland development is threatening our food supply to reality-defying infrastructure cost analyses, truth often is the first casualty of this burgeoning debate. Some of the seemingly more plausible arguments of the anti-growth crowd, however, are just as suspect."
"EPA slams Logan runway plan; Birmingham says he'd block it " (4/23/99) EPA confuses itself with the Federal Aviation Admninistration.
"U.S. Orders Elimination of Smog Over National Parks" (4/22/99) Al Gore has a 65-year plan to eliminate air pollution. Click here for a Boston Globe editorial.
"New study does not back 'gay gene" findings" (4/22/99) Reuters reports "The results of a new study cast doubt on previous research suggesting the existence of a 'homosexuality gene' on the X-chromosome."
"Cancer more likely to kill poor" (4/22/99) The BBC reports "Thousands of poor people are dying from cancer because they do not have the same chances as the rich, says the first major study of cancer and socio-economic factors."
"Al Gore's gridlock" (4/22/99) About the recent judicial decision delaying the construction of the Wilson Bridge, Ken Smith writes in the Washington Times, "To protect the water bugs, highway officials agreed to restrict bridge work in the water to four months from Oct. 15 to Feb. 15. It may not be be best time of the year to do construction work, and it may prevent the overall project from being completed until 2006. But it's important enough that feds appear willing to turn I-95 - a vital commuter and East Coast commercial route - into a six-lane parking lot if that's what it takes to keep bridge workers from committing bugicide."
"U.S. drops the biotech ball" (4/22/99) Henry I. Miller writes in the San Jose Mercury News, "President Clinton claims that the United States has pursued an enlightened foreign policy that encourages international trade, environmental protection and globalization, but his administration's positions on biotechnology regulation during the past seven years have shown no sign of it."
COURAGEOUS JOURNALIST OF THE DAY: ABC 20/20 reporter blasted by former Consumers Reports reporter (4/22/99) Larry Katzenstein, a former Consumer Reports reporter, chastises Brian Ross, chief investigative reporter for ABC's 20/20, about 20/20's recent fearmongering about baby bottles.
EARTH DAY COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Yes, it's time for another Earth Day" (4/22/99) This New York Post editorial hits the nail on the head: "Now enviros are calling Gore a sell-out (see this week's Time). That should tell you all you need to know about these folks: Nothing will ever satisfy them."
"On Earth Day, the car, Detroit and freedom remain under attack" (4/22/99) Patrick L. Anderson writes in teh Detroit News "We in America cherish our freedoms. But today, on Earth Day, one of the most mundane freedoms is under attack -- the right to choose your own car."
"Plugging into the sun" (4/22/99) The Boston Globe editorializes in favor of more solar power on Earth Day.
"Gore to Unveil Plan to De-Smog Parks" (4/22/99) Vice President Gore plans to push for pre-industrial revolution air quality.
"Coming down to Earth Day (1 of 2)" (4/22/99) Jonathan Adler writes in the Washignton Times, Today is Earth Day. Every year since 1970, environmental activist groups have used this day to warn of impending environmental catastrophe and advocate new government programs, from federal land acquisitions and pollution control regulations to information mandates and international treaties."
"Coming down to Earth Day (2 of 2)" (4/22/99) Becky Norton Dunlop writes in the Washington Times, "Common sense is no longer enough to thwart the aims of those who put the Earth First and people about seventh - after snail darters. What we need is a restoration of the legal precept that regulations, environmental or otherwise, must produce some benefit for human beings."
"No end in sight" (4/22/99) H. Sterling Burnett writes in the Washington Times, "On Earth Day many environmentalists will shout, "Repent, the end is near. Humans are destroying the planet." They will argue that our farms and wildlands are disappearing at an increasingly rapid rate due to so called "urban sprawl." That Americans' continuing love affair with the car and the more villainous sport-utility vehicle is causing unimaginable levels of air pollution. That our rivers, streams and lakes are unsafe. The good news is that each of these claims is false, so celebration is in order. Even so, there is more to do if we wish to ensure a healthy environment in the 21st century."
"Climate Projection For The 21st Century: Earth Will Warm By 3 Degrees " (4/21/99) The latest in crystal ball-ing from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
FEDERAL JUDGE TRASHES KEY EPA TOXICS RELEASE INVENTORY POLICY: Phosphoric acid listing is in jeopardy; Agency can't list substances based on "indirect" effects; Ruling may prevent reporting of carbon dioxide releases (4/21/99) Judge Gladys Kessler's ruling may lead to an end of an outrageous EPA policy.
"Cigar and Pipe Smoking and Lung Cancer Risk: a Multicenter Study From Europe" (4/21/99) From the Apr. 21 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
"Fined for climbing a tree" (4/21/99) The Indianapolis Star News comments "In a dramatic example of the excesses of the environmental movement in America, a Manhattan father is being fined $100 for allowing his children to climb a tree in New York City's Central Park."
JUNK SCIENCE2: "Dangerous Cardiovascular Effect of Second Hand Smoke May Be Reduced by Drinking Purple Grape Juice" (4/21/99) Shame on the Concord Grape Association.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "The good news for Earth Day " (4/21/99) The Deseret News editorializes "Today is Earth Day and, to hear at least one side tell it, the earth isn't doing so well. But that is flat-out wrong. The truth is that, since the first Earth Day in 1970, the environment in North America and the United Kingdom has improved dramatically. Several studies bear this out."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Celebrating Earth Day" (4/21/99) Jay Ambrose writes "Earth Day, which began in 1970 as a kind of nationwide teach-in, took as its chief model the protests then raging against the war in Vietnam. Almost three decades later, some environmentalists continue to treat the annual event as a time to excoriate others for shameful neglect or destructive greed. Instead, they ought to be celebrating. Thanks largely to a factor some of them point to as a major problem, economic growth, the environmental cause has been making impressive gains in the United States."
GUBERNATORIAL GOOF OF THE DAY: MCS prevents proofreading? (4/21/99) Last June, Washington state Gov. Gary Locke declared July 11-17, 1998 as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Awareness Week. Now Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton has declared the week of May 12, 1999 as MCS Awareness Week. Gov. Patton pretty much copied Gov. Locke's proclamation -- even the first declaration which reads "WHEREAS, People of all ages in Washington have developed a condition known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity as a result of a single massive exposure of repeated low level exposures to toxic chemicals and other irritants in the environment."
EARTH DAY COMMENTARY: An Earth Day Lesson (4/21/99) I agree with Alan Caruba that we should cease celebrating Earth Day. The good news is that we will celebrate only one more Earth Day this century. As for the next century, let's hope the enviros will turn back into pumpkins at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999 or that they take the next Hale-Bopp out of here.
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: 'Tobacco and cancer' century? (4/21/99) In this Journal of the National Cancer Institute editorial "The end of the 'tobacco and cancer' century" (Apr. 21) Howard Koh, Commissioner of Public Health of Massachusetts, writes "Future medical historians will undoubtedly recall the 1900s as the 'tobacco and cancer' century." This patently ridiculous on at least two counts. During the 20th century, life expectancy in the U.S. increased from about 45 to about 75 -- and nearly 80 for white women. Certainly there's much more cancer at the end of the 20th century than at the beginning, but to blame this on smoking is absurd. We're living 66 percent longer and cancer is --as the National Cancer Institute itself has pointed out -- primarily a disease of aging. Smoking is a major risk factor for some cancers, but it is not the primary cause of all cancer. Also, I doubt medical historians will consider smoking as the defining characteristic of this century -- even the CDC doesn't. Just recently the CDC issused its list of 10 great public health achievements of this century. According to CDC's order of presentation, they are: (1) vaccination; (2) motor-vehicle safety; (3) safer workplaces; (4) control of infectious diseases; (5) decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke; (6) safer and healthier foods; (7) healthier mothers and babies; (8) family planning; (9) fluoridation of drinking water; and (10) recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard. Excessive smoking may lead lead to illness and disease, but it cannot be claimed rationally that the downside of smoking -- which is a matter of personal choice, anyway -- overshadows a century of truly incredible progress in medicine and public health. Kommissar Koh is way off-base. Let him know. He may be reached at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 250 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108-4619 or by calling (617) 624-5200.
"Socialist Green Vs. Capitalist Green" (4/21/99) Investor's Business Daily editorializes "To environmental doomsayers, everything is a crisis. And expect more of the same Thursday, Earth Day 1999. How else can they get Congress to pass more green laws? They should focus more on the link between wealth and a cleaner Earth."
"Once an Eco-Snob, Now a Green Realist" (4/21/99) Donella H. Meadows describes "enviro vision" in the Los Angeles Times "Now I'm working with friends to build 22 small, clustered, passive-solar homes, where we can share washing machines, rototillers, baby-sitting." Sorry, but apartments, laundromats and day-care are exactly what most Americans work hard to escape.
"Some Schools Have Radon, State Reports " (4/21/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "A state health department survey that languished for a year before being released Tuesday estimates that about 5% of California's elementary school classrooms have significant concentrations of radon, an odorless and invisible cancer-causing gas."
"Suggested intake of vitamin C should be raised, researchers say" (4/21/99) The Associated Press reports "Government researchers say the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C should be doubled or tripled because of growing evidence over the past two decades of its cancer-fighting ability."
TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Federal snob zoning" (4/21/99) Peter Cleary writes in the Washington Times, "Albert Gore's 'smart growth' plans, in the long run, have nothing to do with quality of life issues for those who live in the suburbs. It is about Democratic Party politics and his party's inability to successfully woo suburban and rural voters."
"US cancer rates dropping" (4/20/99) Reuters reports "At least a few of the battles in the "war on cancer" appear to be victories -- the overall rate of new cancers and of deaths from cancer in the US fell between 1990 and 1996, according to a report released Tuesday by the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
"Boat repair chemicals may boost leukemia risk" (4/20/99) Reuters reports "Exposure to chemicals used in boat building and boat maintenance may account for high levels of leukemia found in some British port towns, according to researchers."
"Pill - cancer risk requires more study" (4/20/99) Reuters reports "Recent reports that the use of oral contraceptives do not increase the risk of breast cancer "may be premature," according to a British expert."
Plastic baby bottle press releases (4/20/99) Click here for the press release from the Junkman, here for press release from the American PLastic Council's, here for the press release from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, and here for the press release from the National EnvironMENTAL Trust.
"Do chemicals in plastic taint our food?" (4/20/99) For those who missed 20/20's report on plastic last night (like me), here's the trasncript.
"Congressional bridgelock" (4/20/99) The WQashington Times editorializes "Don't blame federal District Judge Stanley Sporkin. Don't blame federal agencies. Don't even blame Alexandria, Va., activists who brought the lawsuit now locking up work on a new Wilson Bridge. Blame the people now running around pointing the finger at everyone else. Blame federal lawmakers. It was Congress, after all, that passed the environmental and other laws that the activists used to bring suit and that Judge Sporkin said had been violated."
"Animal Activists Win Standing in 2 High Court Rulings" (4/20/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "In two victories for animal activists, the Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for the Animal Legal Defense Fund to sue for tighter regulation of zoos and research labs and gave advocates for endangered sea turtles the right to demand less artificial lighting along Florida's beaches."
"Breast-cancer quackery" (4/20/99) The New York Post comments "A radical breast-cancer treatment of high levels of chemotherapy followed by a bone-marrow transplant turns out to deliver little, if any, improvement in survival rates, four new studies have found. That means that the insurance companies who weren't eager to pay for the unproven and expensive treatment aren't villains after all."
"Judge dismisses bias claim, upholds work of breast implant panel" (4/20/99) The Associated Press reports "A judge refused Monday to throw out a report by an expert panel that found no evidence breast implants cause illness, despite complaints that a member received money from an implant maker."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Let's Not Celebrate Earth Day" (4/20/99) Alan caruba writes "So, maybe we need a new holiday or two? Property Rights Day. US Sovereignty Day. TaxPayers Relief Day. Ranchers and Farmers Protection Day. Renew Mining and Oil Exploration Day. Free Utah (and the land taken from it by the Clinton Administration) Day. Get Out of the UN Day. Honor the Constitution Day. April 22nd might be a nice day on which celebrate any or all of these new holidays."
"First Fen-Phen Trial Won't Derail Others" (4/19/99) "Texas plaintiffs’ lawyers will have to wait a few more weeks for a benchmark verdict in a "fen-phen" suit. The nation’s first trial over the diet drug settled on April 8 after four days of testimony in Cleburne."
"Fisticuffs" (4/19/99) From this week's New Australian, my response to Australian columnist Stewart Fist. Click here for Fist's latest anti-technology shrieking. My favorite part of this Fist column is when he likens the cancer potential of low-level magnetic fields to that of the pesticide DDT. Unfortunately for Fist's attempted point, study after study has failed to associate DDT with cancer in humans -- even the enviros have backed off that nonsense.
JUNK SCIENCE MEDIA RELEASE: Health scare alert: Consumers Union, ABC News to alarm about plastic baby bottles (4/19/99) Here's the Junk Science Home Page media release about tonight's Consumers Union/20/20 baby bottle scare.
ABC's MONDAY NIGHT SCARE-BALL: Consumers Union coordinates with ABC News to launch plastic baby bottle scare (4/19/99) Consumers Union plans to launch a new health scare about baby bottles tonight following the ABC News' 20/20 program, sources say. Consumers Union is the anti-chemical group that brought us the recent -- and highly highly bogus -- pesticide scare. In conjunction with a 20/20 report on chemicals that leach from plastic bottles, so-called "endocrine disrupters," Consumers Union will release an article from the upcoming issue of Consumer Reports titled "Baby alert: New findings about plastics; Parents may want to replace some baby bottles and teethers." The scare relies on studies by the notorious Frederick vom Saal. Vom Saal claims that very low doses of the chemical bisphenol-A, which leaches in trace amounts from plastic, affected development in mice. But vom Saal's work has never been replicated by any independent laboratory. Vom Saal is afraid of confrontation about the quality of his studies -- just last week he cancelled a scheduled appearance at a meeting of the Toxicology Forum apparently because he was going to be confronted about his studies. The president of the Forum publicy upbraided vom Saal. The 20/20 reporter is Brian Ross. The executive producer is Victor Neufeld. You can call and leave a message for the 20/20 program this weekend at 212-456-2020. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Environmental Justice for All" (4/19/99) Geneva Overholser writes in the Washington Post, "If environmental justice remains untested in the courts, it also remains controversial. Christopher H. Foreman Jr. has written a book, 'The Promise and Peril of Environmental Justice.' Listening to him at a Brookings Institution session, it's clear he thinks there's more peril than promise. 'Ennvironmental justice is not really an idea. It is a piece of aspirational rhetoric,' he said.
"Pediatric committee to offer a warning on youth soccer" (4/19/99) A warning based on extrapolating the results of a flaky study of 106 professional soccer players to kids.
"Fluoride Fighters Versus the Anti-Cavity Crusaders" (4/19/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "A vocal minority in California is trying to keep the stuff out of the water supply, despite its national popularity. "
"Europe's hidden mining waste" (4/19/99) The BBC reports "Pollution from metal mining activities in several parts of Europe is a threat to human health and the environment, a campaign group says."
Study finds no relationship between male consumption of Lake Ontario fish and conception delay" (4/18/99) Another study taking PCBs off the hook.
"Daring Sprint to the Summit" (4/18/99) The Baltimore Sun (Apr. 13) provides evidence of the stifling, lame, myopic vision of research at the National Institutes of Health.
"Fake nails a real threat" (4/18/99) The New York Post reports "Women who get fake nails could be getting something else in the bargain - a dangerous dose of poison."
"Cancer: A radical solution" (4/18/99) Click here for Michael Fumento's perspective on preventative mastectomy.
"The Fallout From Kyoto" (4/18/99) The Detroit News editorializes "The Clinton administration’s support of the Kyoto Treaty on global warming threatens the economic stability of the U.S. auto industry."
"Beijing Attempts to Clear Up Choking Air Pollution" (4/18/99) If the Chinese would only steal our air pollution technology, instead of our missile technology...
"Bills for Toxic Waste Cleanup Contested" (4/18/99) The Los Angeles Times reports on a Superfund horror story.
"Global warming whining" (4/18/99) Fred Singer writes in the Washington Times "After a cold winter, it's easy to convince people that warming would be a good thing. What is new and surprising is that a warmer climate would, overall, be good for Americans, improve the economy, and put more money in the pockets of the average family. Good news for taxpayers the day after the filing deadline."
"Tribe in Utah Fights for Nuclear Waste Dump" (4/18/99) The New York Times reports "The reservation could also provide storage for more than half the nation's civilian nuclear waste,... But Gov. Michael Leavitt, who grew up downwind of atmospheric nuclear tests, says that he will do whatever it takes to stop the plan."
"E.P.A. to Give States Edict on Clean Air for U.S. Parks" (4/18/99) The New York Times reports "As part of regulations that could be announced by President Clinton as early as Thursday, which is Earth Day, states will be asked to assess their haze problems over the next few years and submit plans for cleanup strategies to the environmental agency by 2008. Over the following six decades, they would set out to return air quality in scores of parks and wild areas, especially in the East, to what amounts to pre-industrial conditions. That is, pure."
"The Week That Was April 12-18, 1999" (4/18/99) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"The Week That Was April 05-11, 1999" (4/18/99) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project [better late than never!].
"In Letter to Environmental Groups, Clinton Firmly Defends Gore Record" (4/17/99) The New York Times reports "President Clinton sent environmental groups a letter Friday that aggressively defends Vice President Al Gore's record on their issues -- a highly unusual move that underscores the President's commitment to promoting Gore's Presidential prospects."
"Study Links Lung Cancer Deaths to Rocket Assembly Jobs" (4/17/99) The Los Angeles Times reports on a new study released in classic junk science style, science-by-press-conference -- i.e., not published, and not peer-reviewed.
"Pam: My implant went bust!" (4/17/99) The New York Post reports "A pared-down Pam Anderson says when doctors removed her breast implants last week they found a leak in one of them. 'There were no medical problems. There was no reason why I took them out. There was nothing like that,' the actress formerly known as buxom told 'Entertainment Tonight' in an interview that airs Monday."
"Federally Sponsored Panel To Look At Data On Plasticizers: Do They Harm Reproduction, Or Children's Development?" (4/16/99) "The federal government's new reproductive risk evaluation center today announced its first review -- a look at the possible reproductive risks to plastics workers and consumers from seven phthalates found widely in consumer products and the environment. Phthalates are chemical plasticizers used in making flexible vinyl products such as shower curtains, medical devices such as tubing and IV bags, upholstery, raincoats, balls and soft squeeze toys."
"State Study Finds Sharp Rise in Autism Rate" (4/16/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Researchers say reasons for 'epidemic' are unclear. Some of the increase may be due to better reporting."
"Tokyo TV Asahi and the dioxin report stir up public anxieties " (4/16/99) The Lancet lauds a Japanese TV program for alarming the public about dioxin -- never shown to cause in humans cancer, lower sperm counts, learning disabilities, endometriosis, or suppression of the immune system. Send your comments to The Lancet.
"Growth must not be allowed unless water is available for it" (4/16/99) This San Jose Mercury News op-ed uses the prospect of a drought as an excuse for limiting development in California. Since growth is inevitable, California is better off figuring out how to make more water available rather than figuring out how to curtail growth.
"Gag the big polluters" (4/16/99) Read the last sentence of this San Francisco Examiner editorial. The bottom line is the enviros don't want us buying SUVs at all -- regardless of emissions.
TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Gore in the political balance" (4/16/99) Ben Wattenberg writes in the Washington Times, "Where might Mr. Gore's extremism come from? Mr. Zelnick sees it as a personal character pattern. If so, it may be unfixable. But some of it also comes from Mr. Gore's adherence to the playbook of far-out environmentalists."
"Federal Judge Blocks Wilson Bridge Plans" (4/16/99) A bridge must comply with the Clean Air Act?
"Phone probe" (4/16/99) The New Scientist reports, "Britain is setting up an expert panel to examine the health effects of mobile phones... 'To date there has been no consistent evidence suggesting risk to health but there is continuing public concern,' says public health minister, Tessa Jowell. The panel will review published and ongoing research and will be convened by the National Radiological Protection Board."
"The big thaw" (4/16/99) From the New Scientist: "Sea levels can rise by a catastrophic 20 metres when the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets thaw between ice ages, says a geologist from the Bahamas. This is bound to fuel the controversy over the human contribution to global warning. "
"Activists up the ante" (4/16/99) From the New Scientist: "American animal rights activists may be planning an escalated campaign of militant protest."
"Get your head round this..." (4/16/99) From the New Scientist "Forget the hype--there's still no evidence that mobile phones will mangle your memories or give you cancer. But the microwaves they emit may be up to something. Meet the fast-growing worms and boozing rats that have the experts baffled...and discover why a phone call might make you quick on the draw."
"Gulf War illness probably not tied to radioactive materials" (4/16/99) " An independent report released by the Pentagon indicates that exposure to a radioactive material used in the Gulf War is unlikely to have caused the health complaints from veterans whose illnesses remain unexplained eight years after the war."
"Scientists: El Niño may slow global warming" (4/16/99) The Associated Press reports "Finally, someone has something nice to say about El Niño."
"Curb cars not diapers, scientists say" (4/16/99) It's not really scientists that say this -- it's more like the Union of Concerned Lawyers.
"Study links solar activity to Earth's climate" (4/16/99) Environmetnal News Network reports "NASA researchers have found the link between solar activity and Earth's climate -- it was blowing in the wind."
"Many manoeuvres with yo yos can be dangerous to teeth" (4/15/99) Two youngsters write in the British Medical Journal, "We would like to suggest that grown ups shouldn't be such spoilsports."
"Benjamin Franklin and friends honored for creating 'republic of science'" (4/15/99) "In revolutionary America, a small corps of experimental scientists and observers of nature came to see themselves as citizens not just of a new nation but of a far more universal 'republic of science.'"
"Walnuts tied to reduced heart risk" (4/15/99) Did these French researchers factor in the so-called "French paradox?"
"NIH budget increase in question " (4/15/99) This is a good opportunity to contact your congressional delegation and tell them NIH doesn't need any more money and we don't need any more junk science.
"Double Exposure" (4/15/99) The abstract for this Environmental Health Perspectives (April 1999) commentary reads "One study after another is finding strong associations between a variety of human illness and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). A 1986 report by the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that ETS is a cause of disease, including lung cancer, in healthy nonsmokers. Other reports have documented causal associations between ETS and lower respiratory tract infections, middle ear disease and exacerbation of asthma in children, heart disease, retardation of fetal growth, sudden infant death syndrome, and nasal sinus cancer. However, the findings from many of these studies remain controversial. A number of scientists remain skeptical about the association between ETS and serious illness in nonsmokers, charging that scientific journals either fail to publish pro-tobacco findings and meta-analyses or disregard those that are published. They also claim that many epidemiological studies declare causal associations based on marginal odds ratios." Send your comments to the editors at Environmental Health Perspectives.
"Egg on Face of Climate Chicken Littles" (4/15/99) From the World Climate Report: "Which came first? For years, the reigning paradigm of climate change has been that changes in carbon dioxide modulate temperature. CO2 = egg, global warming = chicken."
"The Times adds to Gulf war syndrome hysteria" (4/15/99) Michael Fumento sounds off about a recent Washington Times article on Gulf Lore Syndrome.
"Frog Decline Linked to Climate Shift" (4/15/99) It's kind of hard to take this so-called "link" seriously. As the Washington Post reports "Global warming probably was not the immediate cause of the Golden Toad's demise, Pounds said. More likely the climate fluctuation weakened the animals and made them vulnerable to an epidemic involving a pathogen or parasite, such as the chytrid fungus implicated last year in other frog die-offs around the world. But Pounds said no one will ever know the exact cause. 'At the time of the crash we weren't aware of what was happening,' Pounds said. 'Nobody looked at the animals to see what killed them.'"
"U.S. Researchers Ask for Second War on Cancer" (4/15/99) The first "War on Cancer" was an abysmal failure. Tens of billions of dollars spent for very little progress -- save the first-rate campus at the National Institutes of Health. But the NIH's Cadillac facilities aren't going to help too many cancer victims, will they? Perhaps the second War on Cancer should be run by the private sector, not our boondoggling, bungling bureaucrats?
"Cycling helmet hazard on playground" (4/15/99) Earlier this week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission declared that dirt, grass and concrete were unsafe surfaces for children to play on. Spurred by a freak accident, the agency now says bicycle helmets worn on the playground are dangerous. What's dangerous is inadequate adult supervision -- and CPSC alarmism. Will kids be safer when they lose their bicycle helmets?
"Ads influence teen smoking habits" (4/15/99) I'm not quite sure I understand the point of this new survey. What possible difference does it make what brands teens smoke? Teens first decide to smoke and then they decide the brand. If you want to reduce teen smoking, you've got to be successful at the first decision point -- you're too late when kids are deciding between Marlboros Camels and Newports. Would Al Gore be happier if teen choices were more evenly distributed among the various brands?
"U.S. Will Test Antibiotic for Gulf War Illness" (4/15/99) The Associated Press reports "Thirty military and veterans clinics in the country will offer the antibiotic, based on the theory that the unexplained symptoms are caused by an airborne bacteria and may be contagious." I predict the antibiotic will work even though the existence of Gulf War illness has never been proven. The placebo effect may work wonders on the psychologically challenged.
"CJD death toll rises" (4/15/99) The BBC reports "The number of people known to have died of the human form of mad cow disease has risen to 40." I wonder how this report will affect the planned easing of the British beef ban?
"Sex: The cold cure" (4/15/99) The BBC reports "Regular sex could help to ward off colds and flu - but only in moderation."
"New York snake-proof fence torn down" (4/15/99) The Associated Press reports "A mining company owner who set up a fence to keep out rattlesnakes tore it down Tuesday at the demand of environmental officials after being threatened with contempt."
"Monsanto's ham fists" (4/15/99) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes Monsanto to task for heavy-handed tactics against potential vandals of its test plots for genetically modified crops.
"Public Health Group Urges Court to Stand Firm on Science in the Courtroom" (4/14/99) "The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), a nonprofit public health advocacy group based in New York, is calling on U.S. District Court Judge Sam Pointer, Jr., to reject the latest attack on the scientists he empaneled to evaluate research on the safety of silicone breast implants."
Important breast implant news (4/14/99) As breast impant plaintiffs whine about a $750 honorarium, USA Today reports a more newsworthy breast implant story. According to USA Today, "We'll be seeing less of Pamela Anderson Lee from now on. The buxom blonde had her breast implants removed last week, spokeswoman Marleah Leslie confirms. "There were no problems with them. She just wanted her body to go back to its natural state," says Leslie, who won't reveal the size of that state."
TRASH TALK NEWS: Trash Talk BBS updated (4/14/99) The new Trash Talk BBS software finally has been installed. The new software has improved functionality allowing for separate discussion threads and a security system for locking out those who abuse the forum. Look for a chat feature coming soon. The old Trash Talk software will be around for a week or so while the new software is broken in. Thanks for your patience in waiting for the new software.
ARTICLE OF THE DAY: "You Can't Keep a Good Prophet Down" (4/14/99) Here is only the abstract of an excellent Smithsonian Magazine article (April 1999) on forecasters of gloom-and-doom. The full article discusses global warming.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Tower would help Jeffco" (4/14/99) The Denver Post editorializes "Jefferson County residents trying to stop construction of a new digital television tower on Lookout Mountain by raising an unfounded cancer scare have nothing to fear but the negative effects of their own propaganda on their property values."
"Cell phone hazard" (4/14/99) About the prospect of laws against cell phone use while driving, the Indianapolis Star-News comments "For now, authorities seem content to urge common sense and good judgment. They recommend phone users pull off the road to make lengthy conversations or those requiring close attention. And they caution users to take weather and traffic conditions into consideration before dialing. Following those simple rules could dramatically lower the danger potential and muffle demands for regulation and restrictions."
TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Environmentalists Criticize Gore; Groups Cite Broken Promises on 'Global Warming Pollution'" (4/14/99) The enviros get nervous as "Ozone Al" moderates for an election season.
CONFIDENCE-BUILDING QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Finding a Future for Fusion" (4/14/99) Rob Goldston, the director of the Princeton University Plasma Physics Lab and nucler fusion researcher says "In the year 2100, either we're going to be real toasty and under water (from flooding induced by global warming), or we're going to have a completely different energy system." If this comment represents the caliber of his thinking, nuclear fusion may be farther off than I imagined. Of course, he could just be posturing for increased funding. Either way, it's pretty sad.
"Report on Breast Implants Is Tainted, Plaintiffs Assert" (4/14/99) The New York Times reports "Richard Eittreim, a lawyer for Bristol-Myers Squibb, said the plaintiffs' lawyers' complaints were 'ridiculous.' He dismissed the entire issue as a desperate ploy of lawyers who see that the tide has turned against them." Click here for Los Angeles Times coverage.
"Meatpackers to begin test-marketing irradiated hamburger" (4/14/99) The Associated Press reports "Meatpackers hope America is prepared for beef basted in electron beams as they prepare to sell irradiated meat to the public."
"Study suggests health benefits of writing " (4/14/99) A questionable experimental protocol, especially given the unusual conclusion. The study was small (107 subjects) and short (4 months). The subjects were volunteers (responding to an advertisement to "participate in a study of your daily experience with illness") and may have been pre-disposed to react favorably to the experiment. The outcome measures were subjective (for arthritis, a scale for severity where 0 was "asymptomatic" and 4 was "very severe") and of questionable reliability (for asthma, a mere four measurements over four months of forced expiratory volume in one second or FEV1).
Federal agency declares dirt, grass unsafe for playing (4/13/99) The Consumer Product Safety Commission has declared that dirt, grass and concrete surfaces are unsafe for children to play. The context of the report is child-care centers -- a perfect set-up for trial lawyers. Click he re for the Reuters report. Click her e for the CPSC announcement.
MISINFORMATION OF THE DAY: Stan Glantz on statistical significance (4/13/99) Click here for a recent e-mail that anti-tobacco zealot Stan Glantz is distributing through the Internet. For a 95 percent confidence interval (0.94 - 1.45), Glantz says "we can be just as confident that the true risk is 1.45 as 1.0." This is incorrect. In a confidence interval with a normal distribution (i.e., "bell" curve), the likelihood of the true risk being 1.45 is much less than 1.0 or less. [Imagine the area under the curve for 1.0 and less, and then compare that with the area precisely under 1.45.] Glantz is also incorrect in stating that "most governments use the upper 95 percent bound in the confidence interval as the measure of risk for policy purposes in order to be health protective." This mixes apples with oranges. The EPA, for example, uses the upper-bound 95th percentile value of the distribution of possible exposure values when doing risk assessment. The purpose is to estimate risk assuming the highest realistic exposure. But this has nothing to do with the epidemiology studies referred to by Glantz. Epidemiologic studies measure only whether an association exists between hazard and disease -- not "risk" per se. If the 95 percent confidence interval for a relative risk value includes the value 1.0 -- i.e., no effect -- the study is typically viewed as not having demonstrated a true association. Tell Glantz to stick to rabble-rousing and to avoid statistics.
"How Much Punch Does a Peach Pack?; How Environmental Working Group & Consumers Union Have Confused Risk Management with Hazard" (4/13/99) By Washington State University environmetnal toxicologist Dr. Allan S. Felsot.
"A Call for Public Cell Studies" (4/13/99) As this Wired article points out, 15 years of research has turned up no credible data that cell phones are dangerous. But the metal underwear crowd quixotically demands still more research -- and for that research to be done by some agency more inclined to find danger (like EPA?) rather than the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Energy. Ask the author of this article why he gives so much credence to people who wear metal underwear.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Chimera of global warming" (4/13/99) Patrick Michaels writes in the Washington Times "Ten years ago the Alps endured a virtually snowless winter. Environmentalists blamed global warming. A Swiss lobbying group, Alp Action, wrote in 1991 that global warming would put an end to winter sports in the Alps by 2025. This year the Alps have had their greatest snowfall in 40 years, according to very preliminary data. Greenpeace has blamed global warming. How in the world can that be? Is it possible to blame global warming for every weather anomaly, even if two consecutive events are of opposite sign? Can such a claim have "scientific" justification?"
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "The sky is falling: Part II" (4/13/99) About not getting worked up over Y2K, global warming, oil shortages, nuclear armageddon, etc., M.W. Guzy writes in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "The world, you see, has been ending ever since I got here."
TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Gov. Bush better than Gore for Michigan" (4/13/99) Michigan Gov. John Engler comments in the Detroit News.
"Leading geneticist urges GM caution" (4/13/99) Saying that genetically modified foods may lead to the demise of insects -- and then " no ecology, no ecosystem, no pollinators, no flowers, God knows what" -- doesn't sound like "caution" to me.
ROSS GELBSPAN STILL NOT A PULITZER WINNER: "1999 Pulitzer Prizes" (4/12/99) Click here for the Ross Gelbspan story.
SEN. HARKIN LAUNCHES FOOD SCARE?: "GAO to study safety of school lunches" (4/12/99) Reuters reports "[The General Accounting Office] will investigate the safety of billions of dollars worth of meat and poultry purchased annually for the federal government's school lunch program, Senator Tom Harkin, (D-IA), said Thursday. The probe... will consider whether or not the government should buy food only from meat companies that use the latest technology to detect and prevent foodborne disease. 'Food safety should be the number one priority in USDA food purchases,' Harkin said in a statement. 'Parents shouldn't be concerned that their child will become sick or die from food eaten in school meals.' The USDA school lunch program serves about 26 million meals daily in public and some private schools. Harkin asked the GAO to determine if federal procurement regulations would allow the USDA to give preference to meat companies using steam pasteurization to destroy bacteria, and food companies using other cutting-edge technology. The investigators will also look at whether or not the government samples enough food to detect contamination with bacteria and pesticides."
STUPID IDEA OF THE DAY: "75% of Americans 'diseased' under new definitions (4/12/99) Reuters reports "Various medical organizations are calling for the diagnostic definitions of four major illnesses -- diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and overweight -- to be changed in order to encourage early detection and treatment. However, researchers warn that under these new standards, 75% of the US adult population would be considered diseased."
"Placenta doesn't always protect fetus from secondhand smoke, study finds" (4/12/99) Reuters reports "Secondhand cigarette smoke exposes unborn babies to cancer-causing chemicals, researchers said Monday. Several studies add to evidence that cancer-causing agents in the smoke can get through the placenta, which normally protects a fetus from toxins." But I doubt that secondhand smoke is a risk to fetuses because maternal smoking is not known to increase cancer risk. For example, a prospective study of 54,795 children born during 1959-1966 reported "maternal smoking during pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk of childhood cancer." [Am J Epidemiol 1996 Dec 1;144(11):1028-33].
Study fails to link PCBs and organochlorine pesticides with breast cancer (4/12/99) A study by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports no support for the hypothesis that PCBs and organochlorine pesticides (e.g, DDT, chlordane, heptachlor, dieldrin, etc.) cause breast cancer. The study included 105 women with breast cancer and matched controls who donated blood during 1977-87 and during 9.5 years of follow-up. The study is published in the February issue of Cancer Causes and Control.
"Tomato nutrient fights prostate cancer, study shows" (4/12/99) The Associated Press reports "A study has found direct evidence that the nutrient that makes tomatoes red may protect men against prostate cancer by shrinking tumors and slowing their spread." Actually this study may only have found direct evidence of junk science. This study was presented at a medical conference probably without being peer reviewed -- a tell tale sign of junk science. Also, some prior studies reported: (1) lycopene alone was not a potent inhibitor of prostate carcinoma cell proliferation [Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1998 Sep 29;250(3):582-5]; (2) lycopene did not significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer [Cancer Res 1999 Mar 15;59(6):1225-30]; (3) no association between prostate cancer and lycopene-rich foods [Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1999 Jan;8(1):25-34]; and (4) lycopene was not associated with risk [Br J Cancer 1997;76(5):678-87]. I love pizza and ketchup -- but I don't think they'll change my prostate cancer profile.
OMITTED FACT OF THE DAY: Smoking and mortality risk (4/12/99) This study in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports former smokers (at least 1 year) did not have statistically significant greater mortality than never smokers -- a fact not mentioned in the study's abstract. Here are some of the hazard ratios (with 95 percent confidence intervals) comparing former smokers to never smokers: Total deaths (1.1, 0.94-1.21); coronary heart disease (1.1, (0.88-1.36); other heart disease (0.8, 0.38-1.58); stroke (1.2, 0.86-1.60); other arterial disease (0.6, 0.13-2.48); lung cancer (0.5, 0.2-1.26); other cancer (1.2, 0.89-1.60), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (1.0, 0.50-2.07). The authors state "Our results also demonstrated the favorable effects of quitting smoking: after 10 or more years of smoking cessation, risk of total death is attentuted to almost the same levels as that of never smokers."
"Washington rethinks its debate on dangers posed by application of PCBs" (4/12/99) From the Earth Times.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Environmentalism on the wane" (4/12/99) Rob Gordon writes in the Washington Times, "The problem for environmentalists is that they no longer are anti-establishment. They are the establishment. And because they spend their political capital hyping odd beliefs, they make an easy target for ridicule."
"Needed: A Regulatory Revolt" (4/12/99) The Detroit News comments "The growing amount of federal regulations are wasteful, with costs outpacing benefits."
"Biotech experts to lose GM role" (4/12/99) The Independent (UK) reports "Scientists with current or recent links to the biotechnology industry are to be barred from a key government committee on genetically modified crops."
"Safe Plastics, Poisonous Journalism" (4/12/99) Another gem from Michael Fumento.
"About the tobacco money" (4/12/99) Jeff Jacoby writes in the Boston Globe "No wonder even vehemently antismoking politicians never call for banning cigarettes outright: They don't want to kill the goose that gives them so many golden eggs."
"Rising death rates slow population growth" (4/12/99) BBC reports on new Worldwatch claims.
"Now junk non-science is out too" (4/12/99) From the Chicago Tribune.
TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Nurturer with a mailed fist" (4/12/99) Doug Bandow writes in the Washington Times, "Yet years of scaremongering have proved to be inaccurate. Observed warming has been far below that predicted by the models upon which the convention was based. Even Mr. Gore admitted in 1995: 'In truth, the scientists who are expert in this field will tell you that the precise causal relationship (between C02 and global warming) has not yet been established.'"
"Land Use: Fertile Ground For Gore" (4/12/99) Can former New York Times' environment reporter Keith Schneider, exiled for heresy against the extreme environmental movement, return to the fold by brown-nosing Al Gore in the Washington Post?
"Take the Gag Off Food Safety Issues" (4/12/99) Check out this ridiculous Los Angeles Times op-ed that blames processed foods for cancer.
"Researchers zap cancer cells" (4/12/99) This will really drive the metal underwear crowd crazy -- not that they have far to go.
"Youth Smoking Risks" (4/12/99) The Albuquerque Journal tries to make hay out of this recent st udy. But the study tries to describe the forest by looking at a few trees. If it were true that young smokers were more prone to lung cancer, it would most probably already have been demonstrated in at least some of the great number of studies of smokers over the last 50 years. This is not something that can be proven through statistical correlations of DNA adducts that we don't know much about. Tell the Albuquerque Journal's editors that, right now, this study's only use is as anti-smoking propaganda.
"Contra Costa Weighs 'Environmental Justice;' County may adopt policy to protect poor from toxics" (4/12/99) The San Francisco Chronicle reports "Contra Costa County could soon become one of the few places in the nation to adopt an "environmental justice" policy to protect poor and minority communities that often bear the brunt of refinery accidents and toxic emissions."
"Variety, the Vanishing Crop" (4/11/99) The latest in anti-biotechnology from the Washington Post.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Dial F for Fear: Never have so many people worried so much about so little" (4/11/99) An excellent editorial from the New Scientist.
"Greenpeace's medical scare" (4/11/99) Michael leGault writes in the National Post, "The environmental group's campaign against PVC forges on, using public deception instead of scientific fact to scare the manufacturers of medical products."
"Despite Clean Bill of Health, Public Still Fears Lake" (4/11/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "'The issue is always the same: We acknowledge that, scientifically, the water is showing that it's clean, clear and healthy,' said Portola City Administrator James Murphy. "But the perception by the public--the mistrust that has developed since the Department of Fish and Game first came in--seems to prevail. Our public is still afraid of consuming the water.'"
"Government action over mobile phones " (4/10/99) The BBC reports "The [UK] government has appointed independent experts to assess the health risks of mobile phones after the publication of the first study to show the devices affect the brain."
Mt Sinai, Pew Charitable Trusts to form center for junk science (4/10/99) Reuters reports "New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Pew Charitable Trusts announced on Thursday that they have formed the Center for Children's Health and the Environment. [T]he new center is the nation's first academic research and policy institute established to study links between exposure to toxic pollutants and childhood illnesses such as cancer, asthma and neurodevelopmental disorders. The Pew Charitable Trusts has provided $2.5 million in funding for the center, which is based at Mount Sinai. In addition to conducting research, the center expects to make policy recommendations when scientifically warranted. Mount Sinai pediatrician Dr. Philip J. Landrigan will serve as director... Its National Advisory Council includes Dr. Lynn Goldman of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health."
"Of politics, Clintons and 'environmental racism'" (4/10/99) From the New York Post.
"Pipe Dream" (4/10/99) The Detroit News editorializes " Forcing an industry to fund its own destruction is abhorrent in a free society. But shock tactics to stop teens from smoking may prove to be a pipe dream. Nothing invites adolescent rebellion more than high-handed attempts to change their behavior."
"Smart growth isn't so smart" (4/10/99) Al Knight writes in the Denver Post "Colorado must brace itself for yet another round of hand-wringing over the issue of how the state might 'manage growth.'"
"Quality of Minnesota's water, air in danger" (4/10/99) The sky is falling in Minnesota.
"Court Splits Over Fetal-Alcohol Case" (4/10/99) Of course it would have been perfectly legal if she had her doctor scrape the fetus off her uterus.
"American Home settles Texas fen-phen case" (4/10/99) After asking for $110 million, the plaintiff settles for $500,000.
"Cigarette price boost deters pregnant smoking" (4/10/99) This headline should read "Advocates of higher cigarette taxes publish study to support their cause."
"How to keep ahead of bacteria" (4/9/99) The Chicago Tribune urges caution not panic on the issue of antibiotic use in farm animals. Click here for comments submitted by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
BOOK REVIEW OF THE DAY: Short book frank in blasting 'junk science' (4/9/99) Silencing Science is reviewed in Business Insurance. Click to get your copy.
"Peril in asbestos peril" (4/9/99) See if you can figure out why I appreciate this letter in yesterday's Sacramento Bee. Click to get a copy of Science Without Sense.
"Study Of Children's Fillings Finds No Mercury Exposure" (4/9/99) "Mercury exposure from dental amalgam fillings poses no threat to children's health, according to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry."
"The inmate smoking ban" (4/9/99) A Denver Post editorial. We can punish prisoners by putting them in solitary confinement. We put inmates in situations where they can be assaulted, raped and killed. We can even execute inmates. But at least they are safe from secondhand smoke?
"Hot enough for you?" (4/9/99) Tim Patterson and Tom Harris write in the National Post that "To move full speed ahead with draconian cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, as advocated by Dr. Suzuki and other environmentalists, would be a recipe for economic disaster for all Canadians."
"Down the drain: San Diego can't swallow plan for recycled water" (4/9/99) From the Sacramento Bee.
"Why ‘smart growth’ is such a dumb idea" (4/9/99) About Al Gore and the anti-sprawlers the Detroit News editorializes "Remember, these are the same folks who gave us 'urban renewal' in the 1960s and 1970s. Now they are prescribing 'suburban renewal.' Maybe it’s time we moved back to the cities."
"Trying to Establish a Bottom Line for Regulations" (4/9/99) The Washington Post reports "Depending on how you read it, the Competitive Enterprise Institute's annual report, "Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Policymaker's Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State," is a great source of regulatory trivia or a screed that indicts the Clinton administration for going overboard on regulation and Congress for lacking the guts to take responsibility for the rules it orders up."
GET THIS BOOK: Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy (4/9/99) "A new book released today by The Fraser Institute, Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy, calls into question the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's assessment that second-hand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, causes cancer. The authors, Drs. Gio B. Gori and John C. Luik, assert that the EPA "was caught red-handed in a conspiracy of public dis-information."
"Australian university students agree with Clinton's definition of sex" (4/9/99) Is it me, or is this the wrong title for this letter in the British Medical Journal?
"Testicular cancer on the rise" (4/9/99) This study blames so-called "endocrine disrupters" for a reported rise in testicular cancer from 8.62 cases per 100,000 in 1988 to 15.38 cases per 100,000 in 1996. Right. Chemicals were unheard of in 1988.
"Amazon forest loss estimates double" (4/9/99) If you want to learn something about rain forests, click here for Professor Philip Stott's Tropical Ecology Web Site.
"Smoking spouse doubles partner's stroke risk" (4/9/99) One weak association study doesn't cut it. Here are two other studies that come to the opposite conclusion: (1) Layard MW, "Ischemic heart disease and spousal smoking in the National Mortality Followback Survey;" Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 1995 Feb;21(1):180-3; (2) Lee PN; Chamberlain J; Alderson MR, "Relationship of passive smoking to risk of lung cancer and other smoking-associated diseases," Br J Cancer 1986 Jul;54(1):97-105.
"Speculating on Science?" (4/9/99) The Detroit News editorializes that quality of science is preferred over quantity of science.
"U.S., Europe Lock Horns in Beef Hormone Debate" (4/9/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Just how safe are these hormones used to bring steaks, roasts and hamburgers to American tables, at prices that European consumers would envy? A number of international health bodies have reviewed the evidence and sided with the U.S. But the hotly disputed issue illustrates how hard it is to sort out conflicting health claims when the science is complex and those interpreting it often reach conclusions that serve their own political and economic agendas."
"Beach Water: Safety First" (4/9/99) The Los Angeles Times wants local officials to alarm beachgoers on a constant basis despite this report that the beaches are safe 95 percent of the time.
"Bottled fear peddled by the NRDC" (4/9/99) About the recent NRDC bottled water scare, Michael Fumento writes in the Washington Times, "All the NRDC report really proved is that there is absolutely nothing environmental activists can't turn into a crisis requiring more federal regulations and encouraging more financial support for 'watchdogs' such as themselves. Let's open a bottle of water and drink to the day when they've lost so much credibility that it will never happen again."
"The Cholesterol Myths" (4/9/99) Dr. Uffe Ravnskov's web site says "The idea that too much animal fat and a high cholesterol is dangerous to your heart and vessels is nothing but a myth. Here are some astonishing and scaring facts."
GIVE YOURSELVES A ROUND OF APPLAUSE: Majority supports data access rule (4/8/99) Sources say a last minute flurry of comments submitted to OMB has put supporters of data access in the majority. Based on an report in Science (Apr. 2), opponents of the rule -- i.e. supporters of "secret science" -- were running 4-to-1 ahead of the rule's supporters out of 1,600 comments submitted. By the time the comment period closed on April 5, supporters became the majority! Of course the dark forces of junk science will continue their efforts to repeal the underlying law -- eternal vigilance is the price of liberty -- but we've met the challenge for now.
"Bogus health scares on Internet become increasingly common" (4/8/99) CNN reports -- never acknowledging that bogus health scares are routine on CNN.
DUMB STUDY OF THE DAY: "Mobile phones 'speed reactions'" (4/8/99) The BBC reports "The first evidence has emerged that mobile phones do affect the functioning of the human brain... The government-funded research... found that mobile phone users reacted about 4% faster to yes and no questions than those who were not exposed to the phones' microwaves."
RIDICULOUS ANALYSIS OF THE DAY: "Jury still out on mobile health" (4/7/99) The BBC says the "jury is still out" because wacky studies report that people answer yes/no questions 4 percent faster, worms grow 5 percent more and mice exposed to a cancer-causing chemical get cancer?
JUNK SCIENCE KILLS: "Government U-turn on Pill warning" (4/8/99) The Times (UK) reports a junk science-fueled scare about a contraceptive pill led to 30,000 abortions.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Death knell for voodoo science?" (4/7/99) Paul Kamenar writes in the Chicago Tribune "Thanks to a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, our nation's courtrooms will see fewer hired-gun "experts" with fancy resumes who can bamboozle juries into believing just about anything."
"Blowing smoke" (4/8/99) The Cincinnati Post hits the nail on the head in this editorial about the recent $81 million verdict against a tobacco company.
"Hate crimes" (4/8/99) The Cincinnati Post points out that "As evidence for the need [for hate crime legislation], Clinton cited figures of 8,000 'hate crimes' committed in 1997. These are not new offenses but represent the reclassification of existing crimes. The president proposes to broaden this statistical sleight of hand by ordering the nation's colleges and universities - 'we have significant hate-crime problems there,' the president said without a shred of evidence - to compile statistics on hate crimes."
"Antarctic ice shelves said to be breaking up faster than expected" (4/8/99) Maybe their expectations were wrong in the first place?
"15 percent of sixth graders have tried beer, study says" (4/8/99) This survey is based on unverified self-reports. I am amazed at the readiness of people to accept the unchallenged word of 12 year-olds.
"Pennsylvania dump site reinspected by EPA after 1981 bureaucratic snafu" (4/8/99) Oops.
"Vaccine link to Gulf War Syndrome" (4/8/99) The BBC reports "A fatty substance used in vaccines - and originally identified in sharks - may be the cause of Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), researchers have said."
"For clean beaches, clear rivers, enforce environmental laws" (4/8/99) At least this Detroit Free Press op-ed by Keith Schneider -- the former New York Times environment reporter forced from his job by enviros who accused him of the heresy of writing balanced articles -- doesn't call for more or federal legislation.
"For kids, lawn pesticides are a bigger threat than weeds" (4/8/99) This Star tribune op-ed says "The rate of cancer in children is increasing 1 percent a year, and the World Health Organization has determined that at least 80 percent of all cancer is attributable to environmental influences." This is nonsense. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports the increase in childhood brain cancer during 1973-1994 is due to changes in detection and reporting. The journal Cancer reports "Since the early 1960s, the incidence of childhood cancers, and in particular childhood leukemia, has remained relatively stable, or if anything has risen in geographic areas where there are adequate cancer registration systems." There is no increase in cancer in kids -- let alone any cancer connected with the environment.
"There's wealth in biodiversity" (4/8/99) From today's Detroit Free Press.
"Protect the Ichetucknee from industrial pollution; Florida's `most pristine stream' may be in jeopardy." (4/8/99) From today's Miami Herald.
"Testing for Ocean Pollution Tangled in Red Tape" (4/8/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "A program designed to improve and standardize testing for ocean pollution remains snarled in a bureaucratic dispute 20 months after California lawmakers enacted it."
"Ward Valley Plan: Waste Indeed" (4/8/99) Handwringing by the Los Angeles Times over a nuclear waste site.
Youth smoking (4/7/99) In today's New York Times ("Genetic Damage in Young Smokers Is Linked to Lung Cancer"), reporter Denise Grady writes, "According to surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of high school students smoke regularly." In today's Washington Post ("Young Face Greater Smoking Perils"), the Associated Press' Paul Recer writes, "Surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that 34.8 percent of high school students were regular smokers in l995. That number rose to 36.4 percent in l997." INCORRECTAMUNDO! Those percentages only apply to high school students who had one or more cigarettes in the 30 days prior to the survey. The CDC's l997 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System s urvey lists only 16.7 percent of students as regular smokers (i.e. having had at least one cigarette on 20 of the 30 days preceeding the survey). [Thanks to Wanda Hamilton.]
"Sweet alternative to farm antibiotics" (4/7/99) No scientific evidence indicates that anti-biotics fed to farm animals is a threat to public health. While research continues, let's avoid embracing of bans or unproven alternatives. Click here for comments submitted by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
QUESTIONABLE STATISTIC OF THE DAY: Increase in anti-gay violence? (4/7/99) In light of the push for special protections for gays through "hate crime" legislation -- including President Clinton's likening of crime against gays to "ethnic-cleansing" -- be wary of statistics that claim to show that violence against gays is on the rise. The statistics used in this San Francisco Examiner article are from activist groups. Whether a crime is "anti-gay" is a complex and subjective determination. Of course, I can't resist asking the bigger question, why is killing a homosexual more heinous than killing a heterosexual?
HIDDEN AGENDA OF THE DAY: "Truth in Bottling" (4/7/99) The FDA says bottled water is safe. For some reason, this is not good enough for the New York Times. Ask the New York Times why it puts any stock in a report from an environmental activist group about a consumer product. Doesn't the NRDC have an undisclosed agenda? Could it be the enviros don't like bottled water? It comes in environmentally-incorrect plastic containers that are made from chemicals and ultimately become solid waste. Also -- and most importantly -- bottled water reduces the enviros' ability to terrorize consumers about the safety of surface and ground water drinking supplies.
Vinyl IV bag manufacturer surrenders to extreme enviros (4/799) A PR Newswire media release reports "The nation's leading producer of intravenous (IV) bags, Baxter International Inc., today announced a commitment to develop alternatives to and phase out polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, for their products, beginning with IV bags." I guess Baxter International took no heart from my recent op-ed. Click here for CNN coverage.
"Parents 'fear smoking more than drugs'" (4/7/99) The anti-smoking campaign has worked -- parents' minds have turned to mush.
"Smoking in teens boosts DNA damage" (4/7/99) This study's problem is that it tries to describe the forest by looking at a few trees. If it were true that young smokers were more prone to lung cancer, it would most probably already have been demonstrated in at least some of the great number of studies of smokers over the last 50 years. This is not something that can be proven through statistical correlations of DNA adducts that we don't know much about. Right now this study's only use is as anti-smoking propaganda.
OMITTED FACT OF THE DAY: "High caffeine intake shortens menstrual cycle" (4/7/99) Reuters reports "Women who are heavy caffeine consumers are twice as likely as those who abstain from caffeine to have short menstrual cycles, though the long-term health effects of the shorter menstrual cycles are unclear." But the study abstract indicates this result is not statistically significant -- so it's hardly worth the headline.
"Keeping an environmental promise" (4/7/99) The Boston Globe comments about the enviros' struggle between their love-hate relationship with offshore oil drilling.
"Repeal 'veggie libel' law to protect free speech" (4/7/99) So says the San Antonio Express-News.
"Runoff Takes Aliso Creek's Water Quality Down the Drain" (4/7/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Officials recently approved a plan that would divert some of the polluted runoff to a pipeline that would dump the water nearly two miles offshore, diluting the toxic fluids and mitigating the health risk to beach-goers. But critics called the plan only a 'band-aid' solution."
"Cleaner but costlier gas will debut here soon in bid to boost air quality" (4/6/99) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports MTBE -- recently banned in California -- will be used in Missouri.
"Passive smoking artery damage partially heals" (4/6/99) Researchers claim "Passive smoking has been consistently linked to an increased risk for coronary heart disease and may be responsible for more than 30 cardiovascular deaths annually in the US alone."
"Oil Company Confronts Cluster of Brain Tumors" (4/6/99) The New York Times reports on the cluster of brain cancers at an Amoco facility.
"Environmentally friendly Sweden tackles nuclear waste issue " (4/6/99) Reuters reports "Writing a letter to our descendants 25,000 years in the future may seem like a head-in-the-clouds idea, but Mikael Jensen has very real concerns about the task."
"Let's see past distortions of 'animal rights' groups" (4/6/99) "Those who continue to promote this extremist and erroneous animal agenda will deny future humans and animals the scientific knowledge and medical breakthroughs that have increased life expectancy and life quality during the past century."
"Global warming and plant life" (4/6/99) Enviros attack the claim that higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will promote plant growth.
"New theories about harm caused by spilled oil " (4/6/99) Reuters reports "A study of pink salmon, still ailing a decade after the Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska, suggests that oil is 100 times more toxic to developing fish than previously believed and that dangerous oil pollutants linger years longer than had been believed."
"The visibility standard" (4/6/99) The Denver Post editorializes "The visibility standard needs to be reviewed and probably modified. Weather, according to the health department, played a big role in last winter's 68 violations."
"Urging a Freer Flow of Scientific Ideas" (4/6/99) The New York Times reports on the "Secrecy in Science" conference held at MIT last week.
"Vine of the soul" (4/6/99) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorializes on "bioprospecting."
"Environmental cadmium boosts fracture risk" (4/6/99) The most significant result in this study, bone density loss in post-menopausal women, is most probably a natural consequence of menopause, not cadmium exposure.
HEAVY METAL UNDERWEAR PARANOIA: "Waves of doubt" (4/5/99) Dan Kennedy writes in the Boston Phoenix "Get ready for the environmental battle of the next decade: the fight against electromagnetic fields. Cell phones and broadcast antennas are only part of a problem that could threaten us all."
SLANTED NEWS OF THE DAY: "Common pollutants undermine masculinity" (4/5/99) In this Science News article, reporter Janet Raloff writes "Some widespread pesticides and chemicals in plastics can induce reproductive impairment in males, according to seven new animal studies... L. Earl Gray Jr. and his colleagues at [the EPA] administered the chemicals to female rats from weaning through lactation. They gave doses of 200 to 1,000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight [mg/kg/bw]." Raloff closes her article with a quote from former Environmental Defense Fund "scientist" Peter L. deFur who says "I think there is more than just a possibility that [current human] exposures to antiandrogens are having measurable health effects." Aside from the fact there is no evidence of this in humans, Raloff neglected to mention the doses tested are very high. For example, the upper end of the realistic dose for a baby sucking on a plastic teething ring is on the order of 0.10 mg/kg/bw -- up to 10,000-fold less than in the reported experiments. Raloff failed to mention this key point in the article. Raloff only quotes Physicians for Social Responsibility member Ted Schettler as saying the experimental doses approach the "range where people are actually being exposed." Sure they do -- the same way that I approach California when I travel in a westerly direction on a Maryland highway. Click to e-mail your comments to Science News.
REPORT OF THE DAY: "Ten Great Public Health Achievements -- United States, 1900-1999" (4/5/99) Note that this CDC compilation does not include "environmental protection" or the EPA. Why? Though the EPA is loathe to admit it, environmental protection has little to do with public health.
"EPA's highway to traffic hell" (4/5/99) Investor's Business Daily reports "If your drive to and from work seems to be taking longer, one cause may be the Environmental Protection Agency."
9th Annual "Chicken Little Awards" (4/5/99) For the ninth year, The National Anxiety Center has announced its "Chicken Little Awards" to those individuals and organizations "who have done their best in the previous year to scare the daylights out of millions of people."
'TO DO' OF THE DAY: Comment period closes on 'secret science' rule (4/5/99) The public comment period on the 'secret science' rule closes today. File your comments and win a great prize!
TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Al Gore in the balance" (4/5/99) Henry I. Miller gores Al.
TODAY'S GORE-ING II: THE SEQUEL "Say what, Mr. Gore?" (4/5/99) The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby writes "Not every Gore gaffe is funny, of course. There was nothing comical about deriding Oliver North's supporters as "the extreme right wing, the extra-chromosome right wing." (An extra chromosome is what causes Down syndrome.) And it wasn't amusing - just hypocritical - when the same Gore who had boasted on the campaign trail about having been a tobacco farmer exploited his sister's death from lung cancer at the 1996 Chicago convention."
"Mainers' lives depend on the smoking ban" (4/5/99) This Portland Press-Herald repeats the unproven as truth: "Secondhand smoke causes cancer." Let the editors know that Mainers lives' depend more on not being led astray.
"Logic up in smoke" (4/5/99) Scroll down to read this Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the recent $81 million for a smoker and personal responsibility.
"Mowing could take a back seat if lawn chemicals catch on" (4/5/99) The ultimate dilemma for enviros: checmials as the solution for pollution.
"Study Sees an Acid Rain Threat in Adirondacks and Beyond" (4/5/99) A 1980s' federal report concluded so-called "acid rain" was not threatening the environment. The 1990s report concludes the opposite. But air pollution levels have declined. So how could acid rain be a threat now, but not before? Hmmm.... Click here for the May 1998 "NAPAP Biennial Report to Congress."
"What the stats really say" (4/5/99) The Boston Herald notes "among individuals 27 to 33 who have never had a child, women's earnings are 98 percent of men's earnings."
"Schools' Use of Toxic Pesticides Draws Fire" (4/5/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Experts warn of the chemicals' danger to youths, but risks are disputed. County educators see no need for action."
"Granfathered: Time for mandatory deadline on industrial polluters" (4/5/99) With the loss of highway funds looming, the Houston Chronicle advocates clamping down on emissions from older industrial sources.
"If rains fail..." (4/5/99) The San Jose Mercury News comments "If there was ever a time when California needed intelligent water policies, this is that time."
"A Prime Step for Wildlife" (4/5/99) The Los Angeles Times comments on habitat conservation plans.
"Nature Inspires a Design Concept for Sustainable Living" (4/4/99) Just one of the things that cracks me up about this "sustainable living" article is the concept of "animal tractors" -- i.e, chickens and pigs -- to till up and fertilize soil. Aside from the federal government's efforts to crack-down on animal manure used as fertilizer, this brings to mind the Freedman's Bureau, established by Congress after the Civil War in 1865. The federal government was to divide conquered and abandoned land in the South into plots of 40 acres. The land was tabbed for freed slaves and whites supportive of the Union. The army was to supply mules. Out of this program came the slogan "Forty acres and a mule!" In reality, there was little support for the plan nationally. Some blacks did try to settle patches of land they believed had been handed over by the government, but President Andrew Johnson eventually gave the land back to white property owners. Now the lefties have a new slogan "40 square feet and a chicken!"
"Drug Czar: Hung by his own report" (4/4/99) Alan Bock writes "If Barry McCaffery and other drug warriors were really, seriously troubled by the possibility that use of marijuana might lead innocent or psychologically troubled people to harder drugs with much more severe physiological dangers, they would move as quickly as possible to legalize marijuana."
"The 'other white meat' as organ donor" (4/4/99) The New York Post reports "Researchers believe people once close to death will be walking around with new kidneys, livers, hearts and lungs harvested from genetically altered Franken-pigs."
"Environmentalists Call 'Beetlemania' a Hollow Excuse for Cutting Trees" (4/4/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Citing beetle epidemics in several northwestern areas, the Forest Service wants to sell their timber to loggers. Opponents say the infestation is fabricated."
"Pollution and health" (4/4/99)A letter in The Lancet (Apr. 3) reports "A survey of the past 7 years of all editions of The Lancet, BMJ, CMAJ, The New England Journal of Medicine, and JAMA reviewed [the number of published articles] on the relation between industrial pollution and human health. This survey revealed [the number of such articles has declined more than 60 percent since from 1995 to 1998.] What accounts for this decline? One possible explanation lies in the recent collapse of government funding for environmental programmes in some jurisdictions... Physicians interested in research on the relation between environmental pollution and human health should be aware that for some reason fewer papers on the subject have been published in the general medical journals, a trend which itself is of concern." So who's worried? Perhaps journals have finally tired of junk scientists crying wolf?
"Afflicted with acute activist agonies" (4/4/99) Michael Fumento writes in the Washington Times "There's good news for all you consumers of chips fried in that fake fat we keep hearing about, Procter & Gamble's olestra. Two recent studies in prominent medical journals strongly indicate they won't make you sick to your stomach or your intestines, and you don't need to stay within 15 yards of a bathroom to eat them."
"Louisiana group to discuss environmental racism with U.N." (4/4/99) Greenpeace continues to exploit poor Louisiana blacks for its junk science-fueled anti-chemical agenda.
"Pesticide rains on Europe" (4/4/99) The BBC reports "Environmental researchers in Switzerland believe much of the rain falling in Europe contains unacceptably high levels of pesticides."
"EU plans for large scale GM disaster" (4/4/99) The Independent (UK) reports "European governments are drawing up contingency plans for a nuclear fallout-style emergency involving genetically modified organisms."
"Risky food handling behaviors common in US" (4/4/99) So wouldn't it be wise to start with a little education, rather than reach in knee-jerk fashion for more regulation?
"Napalm-burning accord heads for House" (4/4/99) "There are no health, safety and environmental reasons to prevent burning," [the plant manager] said. "If it wasn't for the name, we wouldn't be here."
"$5 million proposed settlement reached in radiation study lawsuit" (4/4/99) "Families of 90 cancer patients who allege their relatives were unknowingly subjected to military-sponsored radiation experiments have reached a proposed $5 million settlement, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Saturday."
"What’s Up, Mom?" (4/3/99) About a recent survey of Michigan drivers, the Detroit News comments "One would like to think the state of Michigan is sharper than Elmer Fudd. But the jury is out."
"Supreme Court strikes needed blow against junk science" (4/3/99) You can, too. Enter the "Stop Secret Science" Sweepstakes!
"'Junk' and justice" (4/3/99) The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette comments "But if the rules of evidence are to mean anything in a world of proliferating 'experts,' 'specialties' and 'syndromes,' judges must be able to screen out suspect testimony. The Supreme Court has made it easier for judges to play that necessary role."
"Toward more informed drinking" (4/3/99) The Chicago Tribune comments in favor of labeling alcohol with the health benefits of moderate drinking.
"Ruling Apparently Kills Ward Valley Nuclear Dump Plan" (4/3/99) It would not be an engineered "repository;" not a "dump."
"Step up global fight against TB" (4/3/99) Sounds like the American Lung Association should spend more of its resources fighting tuberculosis and less on its anti-smoking crusade. Tuberculosis kills millions, including the young. And, unlike a smoking-related illness, TB is not a disease for which the afflicted "volunteer."
"Lawn Mowing May Cause Air Pollution" (4/2/99) Not the mowers... the grass!
Anti-tobacco advertising causes Florida teen smoking decline? (4/2/99) Contrary to the desires of bureaucrats and advertising agenices that stand to benefit from hundreds of millions (billions?) of dollars poured into youth anti-smoking programs, I'm not sure this study actually shows the recent $70 million Florida anti-smoking campaign reduced teen smoking. After all, the reported decline is only a couple of percentage points and 30 percent of the students in the "representative sample" failed to respond to the survey. So the sample is probably no longer "representative" and the missing data could easily change the claimed decline. The 70 percent who responded are unverified self-reports. How reliable are teens? Do they understand the questions? Do they want to admit smoking to authorities? There are a number of other shortcomings of this study, but there's little point in going past these fatal flaws. There's a battle in Florida over how much money should be sunk into these programs. This survey is not evidence the campaigns work. Click here for the Reuters report of this study.
Denver Post debate: "Lookout Mountain finds itself in a tower struggle" (4/2/99) In this corner representing sense and science is "Structure would be sleek, safe." In this corner representing the metal underwear crowd is "Antenna fuels fears about tumors."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Soft plastics, softer science" (4/2/99) Michael Fumento writes in the Wall Street Journal about how major media outlets are being duped by extreme environmentalists.
FIGHT JUNK SCIENCE: "No contest" (4/2/99) Science (Apr. 2) reports "Scientists opposing a controversial data-access proposal appear to be headed for a lopsided win in an unusual skirmish--even as their opponents are raffling off prizes to gain allies. Acting on legislation pushed by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in January released a controversial proposal to require taxpayer-funded researchers to hand over their raw data to anyone who files a request (Science, 12 February, p. 914). The agency gave the public until 5 April to comment, sparking a furious letter-writing campaign both for and against the proposal. Last month, rule opponents--including most scientific societies--were alarmed to discover that the other side was ahead in the comment contest, in part because it was offering a creative incentive: People who used the Junk Science Web page (www.junkscience.com) to write to OMB could win a subscription to an environmental policy newsletter or the electronic Wall Street Journal. But the tide has turned in the last few weeks: The 1600-and-counting comments OMB has received so far are running 4 to 1 against the rule, says the Washington-based American Association of Universities. Whether the landslide will persuade OMB to rewrite the proposal, however, won't be known until later this year, when it must finalize the rule." Fight junk science by entering the "Stop Secret Science" Sweepstakes!
"High priests of science fear for their position" (4/2/99) A terrific letter in Nature opposing the journal's stance in favor of "secret science." Fight junk science by entering the "Stop Secret Science" Sweepstakes!
"Bottled yuck" (4/2/99) No doubt that, other than being a convenience, bottled water is a rip-off. But a bigger fraud is giving credence to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council -- a group of activist lawyers and other enviro crazies.
British Medical Journal misleads on passive smoking study (4/2/99) In its news article on the recent passive smoking/heart disease study, the BMJ omitted mention of the commen tary that throttled the study. Ask the editors if the "B" in BMJ stands for "biased."
"Utah couple sues their condo neighbor for his cigarette smoke" (4/2/99) Reuters reports "The lawsuit, which was filed in February in state court, is believed to be the first to challenge the right of people to smoke in their own homes, said a spokeswoman for attorney Michael Stout, who represents the Parrish couple."
"Agent Orange not linked to cancer in vets " (4/2/99) Reuters reports "Exposure to high levels of dioxins -- the toxic compounds found in the wartime exfoliant Agent Orange -- did not raise long-term cancer risks in Vietnam veterans, researchers report."
'DUH!' OF THE DAY: "Blood flow patterns in brain tied to personality" (4/2/99) Reuters reports "People who are shy and those who are outgoing can credit their brains for their personalities, according to a report in the American Journal of Psychiatry." Thanks. I didn't know that.
"Climate change threatens coral reefs" (4/2/99) The BBC reports "The world's coral reefs, already facing several threats to their health, are now thought to be in further jeopardy."
"Caution: News May Be Dangerous to Your Health" (4/1/99) Brant Mittler writes in the Pioneer Planet "The media's tendency to turn the most marginal scientific findings into front-page news can be harmful, even fatal."
ANOTHER ENVIRO THREATENS JUNKMAN: Former EDF 'scientist' takes offense to being called 'bogus expert' (4/1/99) An e-mail apparently from former Environmental Defense Fund "scientist" Peter deFur, threatens the Junkman with a slander suit for this posting in which I refer to him as a "bogus expert." DeFur had been "used" as an "expert" in this MSNBC article scaring women about dioxin in tampons. But deFur apparently knows even less about the law. First, defamation in print is libel; slander is oral defamation. Second, opinion, as this page is clearly marked, is constitutionally protected speech. Third, truth is an absolute defense. So sue me deFur -- make my day.
BIRTHDAY PRESENT OF THE DAY: "Challenging politicized science" (4/1/99) On the 3rd birthday of the Junk Science Home Page, Anne Fennell gets a fantastic letter in the Washington Post. Thanks Anne!
"Lend a Helping Fin" (4/1/99) The Detroit News editorializes "We have usually been among the first to frown on environmentalist excess. Too often, the greens sacrifice economic growth to the pursuit of a politically correct utopia. But this doesn’t mean all environmental arguments are wrong. Consider, for instance, the recent proposal by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to return the common freshwater shark to the Great Lakes. The department says it is studying the idea "seriously."
Lynn Goldman interview (4/1/99) Former EPA pesticide chief Lynn Goldman blows smoke in an interview for Johns Hopkins' Intelihealth. Very briefly: The aldicarb incident referred to was an illegal application of the pesticide. The health effects alleged (basically nausea) occurred over the Fourth of July weekend. As Goldman knows very well, not one illness was ever linked to a contaminated melon. Over-indulging in food and drink, perhaps? Also, Goldman fails to admit the DDT ban was 100 percent political. An EPA administrative law judge could find not a scientific basis to ban DDT despite 9,000 pages of testimony. William Ruckelshaus, the first EPA administrator and a fund-raising member of the Environmental Defense Fund, unilaterally decided to ban DDT to appease his comrades.
"Peer review needs care, not neglect" (4/1/99) The Financial Times spotlights the importance of scientific peer review and notes that unethical peer review is on the rise. Note: The Financial Times site requires registration. But it's FREE.
"Magazine corrects erroneous definition of 'blue moon' 53 years later " (4/1/99) Here's something you only see once in a blue moon.
"Everyone can help in clean-air battle" (4/1/99) The San Antonio News-Express looks to the EPA to save Texans from themselves.
"Russian Woes May Aid U.S. Emissions Goals" (4/1/99) A mythical problem creates mythical value.
"Pentagon must dispel doubts about anthrax vaccinations" (4/1/99) The San Jose mercurty news notes "In scattered outbreaks of resistance, some of the military's rank and file are refusing vaccinations against the biological agent anthrax out of fear for their health. The Pentagon has responded to their concern with coercion instead of facts."
"No opting out on public health" (4/1/99) The Chicago Tribune comments "Perhaps the Illinois House will understand that immunization is about everybody, not just the ill-informed and their self-centered beliefs."
"Arsenic in wells: Wait and see isn't good enough for health policy " (4/1/99) The Detroit Free Press scares it readers into testing their water for arsenic. The recent National Research Council report notwithstanding, it's not clear that arsenic is a problem in U.S. drinking water.
"The enemy within" (4/1/99) The Denver Post editorializes "The League of Women Voters should be applauded for focusing public attention on the subtle but alarming problem of household water pollution. The problem is pervasive - but often fixable."
"Ending Chemical Hazards" (4/1/99) Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) chirps a mindless anti-chemical agenda.
"The Land of Water" (4/1/99) The Los Angeles Times closes in on the bottled water scam.
"Davis Picks Texan to Head California Pesticide Panel" (4/1/99) This Los Angeles Times headline should read "Davis Picks Enviro-with-no-obvious-pesticide-experience to Head California Pesticide Panel."
"We are all responsible for decline of wild salmon" (4/1/99) More save-the-salmon nonsense. Click here and herefor some perspective.
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