BOOK REVIEW OF THE DAY: "Environmental Illness: Myth and Reality" (3/31/99) About this book, Peter Manu writes in the New England Journal of Medicine "When all is said and done, [the author] concludes that environmental illness is iatrogenic, induced in vulnerable patients by unscrupulous physicians and advocates. For him, the phenomenon represents nothing short of medical cultism, with the expected moral superiority, rigidity of thought, and contempt for scientific laws, in which much time is spent on rituals, confessions, and group testimonials. His is a courageous hypothesis and one whose testing merits our support."
"Dark Antismoking Ad Targeting Teens Turns Some Networks Off" (3/31/99) From the Wall Street Journal: "Some broadcast and cable networks are refusing to run an antismoking ad that uses dark, hard-edged humor to get its message to teenagers."
MEA CULPA (sort of) OF THE DAY: "Plastic Wraps, Listeria: To Worry or Not?" (3/31/99) The New York Times' Marian Burros reluctantly acknowledges her article alarming consumers about chemicals leaching into food from plastic wrap was one-sided.
Carol Browner says Republicans endanger Americans (3/31/99) Check out this press release from the EPA -- supposedly an independent agency. Not too political is it?
EPA cracks down on lawnmowers (3/31/99) The Environmental Protection Agency issued on March 30 strict new emissions limits for small engines typically used in lawn and garden equipment. The EPA was not persuaded by industry arguments that lawn and garden products contribute only about 2.6 percent of U.S. emissions of volatile organic compounds. An EPA official said it would not be cost-prohibitive for engine makes to meet more stringent standards. The final rule may be found at 64 Federal Register 15207. [Source: Daily Environment Report, March 31, 1999.]
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: USA Today Debate: Cell phones and motorists (3/31/99) Click here for USA Today's lucid view. Click here for the "safety uber alles/government-knows-best" view.
"Diet Drug Case Open in Texas" (3/31/99) This is the first fen-phen case. A recent study from Duke University reported that long-term fen-phen users (greater than 6 months) were about twice as likely as non-users to have mild heart valve damage -- hardly validating the great alarm with which the FDA forced fen-phen off the market in 1997. Click here for a related op-ed by Henry Miller and the Junkman from November 1997.
"A plan for cutting through the smoke" (3/31/99) The Baltimore Sun editorializes for legislation to require exhaust testing of large diesels. The Sun writes "Soot particles in diesel exhaust are now viewed as a danger to the infirm, the young and people with respiratory problems." Whether or not soot particles are harmful is the genesis of the "Stop Secret Science" Sweepstakes.
"Legislature should close the loophole for older plants" (3/31/99) The Dallas Morning News comments "Some Texas power plants are more equal than others."
"Environmentalists hail judges order to tear down 'snake-proof' fence" (3/31/99) "A judge on Tuesday ordered a mining company to tear down a fence that state environmental officials say is a threat to a den of rare rattlesnakes."
"Legislature opens, governor calls for ban on suits against gun manufacturers" (3/31/99) "'I'm for sticking it to criminals, not to people who are abiding by the law,' [Louisiana Governor Mike Foster] said."
"Morgan City mayor does not trust state environmental regulators" (3/31/99) The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports "Morgan City Mayor Tim Matte summed up his community's feelings succinctly today. They do not trust the state to protect them from a hazardous waste incinerator."
"Commuters Into U.S. Face Crackdown" (3/31/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Cars driven by cross-border commuters will soon be required to carry California registration and pass the state's strict smog inspection to enter regularly from Mexico, U.S. officials warned Tuesday."
"Councilman Says City Knew of Risks at Lockheed Property" (3/31/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Councilman Ted McConkey said Burbank officials draggged their feet after an engineering firm found evidence in 1994 of heightened cancer risks on the Plant B-1 site owned by Lockheed Martin."
"A New Focus on Balancing Nature, Development " (3/31/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Confronted with criticism from some scientists and eenvironmental groups, the Clinton administration is promising to improve the program that attempts to strike a compromise between economic growth and the Endangered Species Act. "
"Settlement to Set Water Pollution Limits Approved" (3/31/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "A federal judge has approved a settlement in which the Environmental Protection Agency agrees to set pollution limits to make waterways and beaches safer in Los Angeles and Ventura counties."
"San Diego Orders Steps to Protect Seals" (3/31/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "The City Council, caught between animal lovers and beach devotees, rejected a move Monday to oust harbor seals from the beach at the venerable Children's Pool in La Jolla."
"Councilman Says City Knew of Risks at Lockheed Property" (3/31/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Councilman Ted McConkey said Burbank officials draggged their feet after an engineering firm found evidence in 1994 of heightened cancer risks on the Plant B-1 site owned by Lockheed Martin."
"A New Focus on Balancing Nature, Development " (3/31/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Confronted with criticism from some scientists and eenvironmental groups, the Clinton administration is promising to improve the program that attempts to strike a compromise between economic growth and the Endangered Species Act. "
"Settlement to Set Water Pollution Limits Approved" (3/31/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "A federal judge has approved a settlement in which the Environmental Protection Agency agrees to set pollution limits to make waterways and beaches safer in Los Angeles and Ventura counties."
"San Diego Orders Steps to Protect Seals" (3/31/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "The City Council, caught between animal lovers and beach devotees, rejected a move Monday to oust harbor seals from the beach at the venerable Children's Pool in La Jolla."
"Bottled water not always cleaner than tap water" (3/30/99) NRDC says bottled water is dangerous. It says tap water is dangerous, too. The reality is tap water and bottled water are safe. NRDC is what's dangerous.
Sens. Thompson, Levin reintroduce risk assessment/cost-benefit bill (3/30/99) Sens. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) re-introduced (Mar. 25) their bill (S. 746) to require federal agencies to conduct risk assessments and cost-benefit analyses on major rulemakings -- those with economic impacts exceeding $100 million. Their prior bill was opposed by the junk science crowd. Although agencies would not have to choose less costly regulatory approaches, notfailure to conduct the required analyses would be subject to judicial review. The bill would not supercede existing environmental, health and safety laws -- the so-called "supermandate." While the bill is only regulatory reform "lip service" -- we've got to start somewhere.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Second-hand science" (3/30/99) An outstanding editorial on the recent secondhand smoke/heart disease study from today's Washington Times.
"Experimental vaccine for peanut allergy" (3/30/99) Much better than than banning peanuts from airlines, schools, etc.
"Public misinformed about carbon monoxide risk" (3/30/99) Does anyone know what percentage of carbon monoxide poisoning deaths are due to faulty oil heaters?
"Md. Poultry Firms to Face Strict Rules on Sludge Use" (3/30/99) I'm still waiting for evidence that poultry farm run-off is harming waterways. What waterways have been harmed? How do we know the harm has been caused by poultry farm runoff rather than other farm runoff, natural eutrophication or municipal waste? There are lots of questions, but few answers. Just more regulation.
"Fertility Treatment Linked to Genetic Defects; Animal Tests Raise Concern that Popular Method Causes or Enables Cell Imbalance" (3/30/99) Since 1992, 20,000 babies have been born through intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI. If there was a problem, shouldn't we have noticed?
"A healthy tobacco tax" (3/30/99) Pending legislation in Maryland would raise cigaretee taxes by one dollar. The aim is to deter teens from smoking by making it more expensive. But many teens think nothing of dropping $100 on athletic shoes. Why would they care about an extra dollar for a pack of smokes -- especially if they think cigarettes make them look "cool?" Regressive pricing only works on those with fixed, low incomes.
WHY STATISTICS IS NOT SCIENCE: "Motherhood 'increases heart disease risk'" (3/30/99) Motherhood and smoking confer the same risk of heart disease? Hmmm.....
"Green energy boost" (3/30/99) Tony Blair plans to waste UK taxpayer money on renewable energy research. We've been there. Done that. Solar and wind power can't compete with fossil fuels.
"The end of the Atomic Age" (3/30/99) The Cincinnati Post comments "Among the commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the Three Mile Island debacle was the placement of a historical marker titled, 'Nuclear Accident at Three Mile Island.' It could just as easily say, 'Here Ended the First Atomic Age.'"
"Health screening: Too many Michigan kids go without basic tests" (3/30/99) Who cares about kids' health? Let's spend $500 million on California redwoods!
"Population problems" (3/30/99) Mitzi Perdue writes " If you were born before 1950, you witnessed something no other generation has seen: a doubling of world population."
"Managing the wilderness" (3/30/99) Are humans "meddlers" in the "ecosystem?"
"Eateries to get warning on smoking" (3/30/99) The Chicago Tribune quotes a spokesperson from the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco as saying: "Federal research has proven second-hand smoke is a health risk." It has? Remind the Tribune a federal judge vacated the primary findings of the EPA risk assessment for secondhand smoke.
Importance of physical activity (3/29/99) This American Journal of Epidemiology study of 8,604 persons reports some interesting results: physically active male smokers had only 1.5 to 3.3 years less life expectancy than physically active male nonsmokers. A similar difference was reported in women.
Conflict over maternal smoking and SIDS (3/29/99) A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Apr. 1) reports that maternal smoking is "clearly related" to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But the accompanying commentar y is far less certain.
Increased cancer not found in veterans with high dioxin levels (3/29/99) A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Apr. 1) reports no significant increase in cancer risk among Vietnam veterans with "high" exposures to dioxin, as measured by blood sampling. The veterans were exposed to dioxin through their involvement with the aerial spraying of Agent Orange.
JUNKMAN 'FISTED': "Research bought and paid for" (3/29/99) A couple of weeks ago, Australian columnist Stewart Fist wrote a hysterical column about cell phones. I commented "'Fosters Lager' is Australian for 'beer.' 'Stewart Fist' must be Australian for 'cell phone paranoia.'" Now Fist responds with a whiny Steve-Milloy-works-for-the-evil-empire column. I must be right about the science because Fist and the others only ever come back with personal attacks -- error-filled ones at that.
"What's cooking?" (3/29/99) This article from The Australian (Mar. 23) correctly says there's no evidence that electromagnetic radiation from power lines, cell phones, etc. causes any harm -- based on current research, anyway. So don't despair if you're part of the metal underwear crowd!
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: Interplanetary EPA? (3/29/99) Check out this actual EPA memo announcing a lecture on interplanetary environmental protection. I, for one, would be happy to send Carol Browner et al. to Mars. Let me know if you attend this lecture.
"Expert Testimony for Hire" (3/29/99) About the recent Supreme Court's recent anti-junk science decision, the Washington Post editorializes "In other words, while Justice Breyer has sketched out a heavy responsibility on the part of judges in assessing the reliability of technical testimony, he also has envisioned a mechanism for them to meet this challenge in ways that should improve the overall quality of expert testimony in courts."
"Possible Health Effects From Depletion Of Ozone Layer to Be Studied by WHO" (3/29/99) The Daily Environment Report reports (Mar. 29) "Officials from the World Health Organization said March 23 they expect global studies to be launched within a year on the possible impact depletion of the ozone layer may be having on reducing the effectiveness of human vaccinations... WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland noted that increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation resulting from ozone depletion is already known to cause cataracts and increased skin cancer in light-skinned people. Less certain--but of potential importance--are the suppressive effects of ultraviolet radiation on the human immune system."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Forget the Unattainable 'Zero' Level" (3/29/99) A Los Angeles Times editorial says "If the low pesticides traces we can detect show no ill effects on people, that's what we should go by." Send your compliments to the Times.
"20th century's medical milestones from antibiotics to X-rays" (3/29/99) "One hundred years ago, the standard medicines in a doctor's bag included arsenic, mercury and other things that could kill before they cured. When these didn't work, doctors advised using mustard poultices to draw out imaginary poisons."
"The Week That Was March 22-28, 1999" (3/29/99) The weekly round-up from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"Nuclear disposal demands a solution" (3/29/99) The Chicago Tribune editorializes "Common sense dictates that a centrally located, well-monitored facility is a far safer solution than dozens of sites scattered across country. Yet, political pressure from Nevada's Democratic Congressional delegation so far has persuaded the Clinton administration to threaten a veto of any final go-ahead of Yucca Mountain."
"Your health for a buck" (3/29/99) Jean Dubail writes in the Cleveland Plain Dealer "I just wish I had a nickel for every time some politician or businessman predicted that adopting an environmental regulation would lead to economic catastrophe, and a dime for every time events proved him wrong." Tell the Plain-Dealer you wish you had a nickel for every time some alarmist predicted that chemicals or pollution would lead to a public health catastrophe, and a dime for every time the facts proved him wrong.
"U.S. Laxity on Beryllium Job Safety Reported" (3/29/99) "During the last five decades, the U.S. government risked the lives of thousands of workers by knowingly allowing them to be exposed to dangerous levels of beryllium, a metal critical to the military, a newspaper reported Sunday."
"Off-Site Preparation Poses Health Risks" (3/29/99) "We get very concerned about home-prepared foods that are served in a restaurant because they're prepared in an environment that we can't inspect," said Bill Ford, who oversees restaurant inspections for the Orange County Health Care Agency."
"Where Growth Meets Wildlife: Habitat Plans Seek Firmer Rules on Species Protection" (3/29/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Confronted with criticism from some scientists and environmental groups, the Clinton administration is promising to improve the program that tries to strike a compromise between economic growth and the Endangered Species Act."
"Hide and Secrets: Confidential settlements are threatening public health and safety" (3/29/99) Would manufacturers be more forthcoming if plaintiff lawyers weren't so rabid and jury awards weren't so ridiculous?
"Three Mile Island: A 20th Anniversary Remembrance" (3/29/99) Jack Raso writes "At Three Mile Island, the fail-safe system worked. The power station switched itself off. There was a scare, but no disaster. Yet . . . nuclear power in America, as in no other nation, has been paralyzed."
"Fear and ignorance followed Three Mile Island, at the cost of progress" (3/28/99) Mike Fox and the Junkman collaborate in the News Tribune (Tacoma, WA): "It was the event that changed the future of electrical power, and not for the better. On March 28, 1979, a pressure relief valve became stuck open at the Three Mile Island (TMI) Unit 2 reactor. Radiation - and then fear - were released into the surrounding area."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY #1: "The Danger of Hyping Hazards" (3/28/99) An excellent commentary from David Friedman of the Los Angeles Times. Send your compliments to the Times. If you don't, the enviros will make sure Friedman is never heard from again.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY #2: "The Supremes take on junk..." (3/28/99) The New York Post editorializes "The U.S. Supreme Court struck an important blow for sanity last week when it sharply limited the ability of pseudo-scientists and dubious experts to testify in civil lawsuits."
"Lake Tahoe Area Officials Fault Davis' Plan for MTBE Phaseout" (3/28/99) The Associated Press reports "Lake Tahoe area officials criticized Gov. Gray Davis' decision to phase out the fuel additive MTBE in the state, saying they will move ahead with their own immediate ban."
"Cleaning up SUVs" (3/28/99) The Boston Globe says we should chose vehicles based on their environmental impact as much as safety. No thanks. Safety first.
"Sprawl is not a threat" (3/28/99) A commentary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says "The most rational comment to date on urban sprawl is from Oregon environmentalist John Charles. At one time he opposed sprawl. Now he says, 'Sprawl is a meaningless concept and people should stop worrying about it.' His comments take on added value when one considers he is the former director of the Oregon Environmental Council, the chief advocate of 'sprawl control' from where this debate largely began - Portland."
"Waste Reaches WIPP After 25-Year Trip" (3/28/99) The Albuquerque Journal editorializes "But WIPP does much more to deal in the safest way possible with its designated waste than leaving it at sites all over the country. Taking this small step after a quarter-century of work will make it easier to take other steps necessary to clean the nation's nuclear house."
"Apply product safety standards to firearms" (3/28/99) Now here's a ridiculous argument: "Under current law, for example, toy guns are subject to health and safety standards while real guns are not."
"Twenty years later, meltdown memories" (3/28/99) "No one was killed in the accident -- still the worst in U.S. commercial reactor history -- but a small amount of radiation was released and fears about a potential explosion set off a panic that lasted several days in southeastern Pennsylvania and intensified the scrutiny of every other nuclear plant."
"As electric source, nuclear power dims" (3/28/99) "Since the Three Mile Island accident in Middletown, Pa., on March 28, 1979, American attitudes toward nuclear power have been characterized by paralyzing ambivalence and mood swings. No new plants have been ordered since 1978. Virtually no one in the industry can imagine building one in the foreseeable future."
"Success at a Steep Price" (3/28/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Los Angeles' Hyperion Waste Water Treatment Plant, once a major polluter of Santa Monica Bay, is now a gleaming model of environmental protection. But beneath the hoopla surrounding that $1.6-billion transformation are a host of costly mistakes that have already bankrupted some of the project's contractors and may eventually cost city residents $100 million more."
"Cutting toxins the goal of worthy legislation" (3/27/99) The Portland Press-Herald editorializes in favor of a law that would reduce the use of chemicals. Ask the Press-Herald why, on the brink of the 21st century, it wants us to return to the 19th century."
"EPA wants access to do cleanup" (3/27/99) The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports "The city and Mayor Marc Morial, who are trying to force the EPA to buy out or relocate residents in the Gordon Plaza and Press Park communities built atop the old landfill, say the federal agency can't come on the property without permission."
"Let Drunks Roll, Hang the Cost" (3/27/99) The Washington Post editorializes "Maryland's chief toxicologist has testified that a .08 level has been scientifically proven to impair a person's ability to drive. State police authorities stated flatly that making the change to the .08 level would save lives." A recent study from the University of North Carolina fails to show such a standard would measurably impact the alcohol-related traffic fatality rate. Click here for the study in PDF format.
"Health Risks From Blast Minimal, Chevron Says" (3/27/99) The San Francisco Chronicle reports "Chevron scrambled yesterday to downplay the health risks from an explosion at its Richmond refinery -- apparently caused by vapor leaking from a pipe -- that drove hundreds to area hospitals." Click here for a related article.
"20 years after Three Mile Island, nuclear industry at crossroads" (3/27/99) "The meltdown at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island 20 years ago Sunday marked the darkest moment in America's quest to convert atoms into electricity. But while it dimmed public confidence, the accident did not turn the lights out on the nuclear power industry."
"Three Mile Island, 20 years later" (3/27/99) Dale McFeatters writes "The chilling image of that plant remains: the huge and forbidding gray towers. As it happens, they were harmless cooling towers; the reactor itself was in a much more modest - and less photogenic - building. The damage cost $1 billion to clean up, but no one died and studies have shown no adverse health effects."
"With the End of the Cold War, Europe Now Faces Wall of Noise" (3/27/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "German environmental authorities have documented a greater risk of heart attacks among people exposed to excessive noise, and they are finding new evidence of noise's long suspected ill effects on sleep and emotional well-being."
"FDA Advised to Restrict Rezulin Use for diabetes" (3/27/99) "Executives of Warner-Lambert Co., the drug's manufacturer, said that [the FDA] overstated the risk to Rezulin patients. Whereas [the FDA] believes only 10% of deaths and transplants are voluntarily reported, the company said the figure is far higher."
"Rabies in unpasteurized milk" (3/26/99) The CDC concludes "the theoretical risk for transmission of rabies from (cow's milk) can be eliminated if all dairy products are pasteurized before consumption."
"Solvent exposure affects semen quality" (3/26/99) Can you say "biased data?" The men in this study were drawn from an infertility clinic.
"Judge dismisses suit that blamed death on incomplete forecast" (3/26/99) "The Weather Channel cannot be held responsible for the death of a man who drowned after being thrown out of a fishing boat during an unexpected storm, a federal judge ruled."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Media meltdown" (3/26/99) The 20th anniversary of the Three Mile Island incident is Sunday. The Washington Times editorializes "Losing a clean, safe, relatively inexpensive source of electricity like nuclear power would be a far greater disaster than Three Mile Island."
Lots of Lott (3/26/99)Click here for "Do concealed guns deter crime?" Click here for "Proposition B: More security or greater danger?: Clear evidence from states with conceal carry."
"Global warming debate heats up" (3/26/99) Henry Lamb writes "When the Environmental Protection Agency announced a series of grants to promote climate change education in Maine, officials from Sovereignty International immediately asked to participate. They were told that the conference would not discuss the "science" of global warming, and were refused a place on the program. Instead, the conference is designed to promote policies to implement the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol (which has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate) as if global warming were an established fact."
CHERRY-PICKING OF THE DAY: ASH deceives web site visitors (3/26/99) I guess anti-tobacco blowhard John F. Banzhaf III doesn't want his web site visitors to know the whole story of the recent New England Journal of Medicine study< /a> on secondhand smoke and heart disease. Although the study reported a small increase in risk, an accompanying editor ial eviscerated the study's methodology -- the same methodlogy used by the EPA in its risk assessment for secondhand smoke. But Banzhaf didn't see fit to mention this detail in his summary of the study. To be fair, the ASH article notes that only "excerpts" from the source, a Reuters article, were used. Here's what was in the Reuters article but missing from the ASH excerpts: "However, the study does not definitively answer whether there is a link between passive smoke and heart disease, according to an editorial by Dr. John C. Bailar III, from the University of Chicago, Illinois. The study 'suffers from problems inherent in the method, such as deficiencies in the data analyzed,' Bailar writes. He therefore concludes that, 'we still do not know, with accuracy, how much or even whether exposure to environmental tobacco smoke increases the risk of coronary heart disease.'"
"Davis Orders Phaseout of Gas Additive MTBE" (3/26/99) Christmas comes early for ethanol producer Archer Daniels Midland.
"Battle Brews Over Accepting Foreign Toxic Waste" (3/26/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "A proposal to import 8,500 tons of mercury-contaminated toxic waste from Cambodia for dumping at a landfill in the Imperial Valley has hit a snag after encountering angry opposition from environmental groups and community activists."
"How saving salmon will change urban life in Northwest" (3/26/99) Former EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus says "We have forced the salmon to adjust to us... With this listing and from this day on, that is going to force us to adjust to the salmon." Ruckelshaus never was too bright, banning DDT at the behest of the Environmental Defense Fund (of which he was a member) and against the recommendations of an EPA hearing examiner who concluded no basis existed for banning the pesticide. Click here and here for info on the salmon issue.
"Triumph over TB" (3/26/99) The New York Post editorializes "The drop would not have occurred had the city listened to the objections of the self-styled civil-liberties lobby, whose hostility to important public-health measures has been one of the black marks against it over the past 20 years."
"Group Lists County 4th Statewide in Pesticide Use" (3/26/99) "If you got a flat tire or you were a CHP officer and you had to walk onto roadsides all the time, wouldn't you want to know [about the high herbicide use]?" asked Patty Clary, the [executive director of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics.]
"World population boom may accelerate anew" (3/26/99) The Seattle Times reports "Although population growth is slowing in many countries, the world's record number of adolescents and young adults could start a new population boom unless they receive adequate sex education and family planning, the head of a United Nations population agency said yesterday."
"Huge Explosion Rocks Richmond Oil Refinery Thousands ordered indoors -- 3 hurt responding to blast" (3/26/99) The San Francisco Chronicle reports "Bay Area Air Quality Management District officials said that although the fire looked ominous, the fumes created were relatively nontoxic."
"USDA: Give kids less meat, more veggies" (3/26/99) More arbitrary advice from the gooberment.
"Is Chocolate Healthy? Hold the Snickers" (3/26/99) Dana Parsons writes in the Los Angeles Times "I'm sitting at a table in the Hilton Hotel with a man telling me that chocolate, despite everything we've heard about its fat content, may be good for your heart. Uh, did I mention he was from Mars?"
"Synthetic musk linked to environmental risks " (3/25/99) The Toledo Blade reports "Synthetic fragrances used in perfumes, soaps, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, cosmetics, and scores of other consumer products have become a new and unexpected group of environmental contaminants, scientists said."
"Whistleblowing in the Wind" (3/25/99) The Wall Street Journal comments "The Environmental Protection Agency has disciplined employees who speak out against its use of junk science."
"Study shows no PCB-cancer correlation" (3/25/99) PCB researcher Renate Kimbrough responds to this article in the Times-Union (Albany, NY).
"Eating chocolate could be good for your heart, new research suggests" (3/25/99) Reuters reports "There is more good news from the scientific community for chocolate lovers -- eating chocolate may reduce their chance of heart disease by helping arteries remain unclogged."
"Davis Moves To Phase Out MTBE Additive; Oil industry to hear governor's plan today" (3/25/99) The San Francisco Chronicle reports "In his first major environmental decision, Governor Gray Davis tomorrow will order a gradual end to the use of MTBE -- a move that could spur a national phaseout of the controversial gas additive."
"Let Science Guide Gas Decisions" (3/25/99) At least this Los Angeles Times editorial doesn't call MTBE a carcinogen.
"Polyphenols put sparkle in Japan's wine, chocolate, chips sales" (3/25/99) "Japan's food companies have come up with a new way to advertise cheap wine, chocolate and potato chips as healthy foods: Pack them with compounds called polyphenols, which might prevent heart disease and definitely are all the rage in Japan."
"Learning and Poisons Don't Mix" (3/25/99) The Los Angeles Times laughably suggests that pesticides be replaced by more frequent steam cleaning and neater kids. Schools should rely on janitors and teenagers instead of safe and effective chemicals?
"WIPP Poised for Shipment" (3/25/99) The Albuquerque Journal reports "After 25 years, hundreds of studies, countless hearings and innumerable protests, the U.S. Department of Energy finally was ready to send a truck loaded with radioactive waste on a historic journey to an underground dump in southern New Mexico's salt beds."
"Cleaning Up Rezulin Mess" (3/25/99) So the diabetes drug Rezulin may not be for everyone -- does that mean it should be available to no one?
"Saving the Salmon, and More" (3/25/99) Click here and here for other perspectives on the salmon issue.
"Herbal Remedies May Hurt Fertility, Researchers Report Scientists find ill effects on eggs and sperm" (3/25/99) "According to a new study, several popular herbal remedies should be added to the list of substances that could have detrimental effects on men as well as women and could interfere with conception or a healthy pregnancy."
"Discovery of Dead Trout Renews Debate on Dam" (3/25/99) Check out the fuss over one dead fish.
"New York City sued in clean-air case" (3/24/99) Reuters reports "The United States sued New York City on Wednesday, alleging the city has been violating the Clean Air Act since 1992 by crushing discarded household appliances and thereby releasing ozone-depleting substances."
MEDICAL JOURNAL EATS ITS YOUNG: Passive smoking and heart disease (3/24/99) This study in today's New England Journal of Medicine is completely trashed by the accompanying editorial. Click here for the CNN report.
"New Arsenic Limits Proposed for Water" (3/24/99) The Washington Post reports "The federal government has underestimated the risk posed by arsenic in drinking water, allowing levels of the naturally occurring carcinogen that could put large numbers of Americans at risk for bladder and lung cancer, a scientific panel concluded yesterday." Click here for the press release.
BAD NEWS FOR 'OZONE AL:' NASA study: Urban heat island effect adds up to 10 degrees to Atlanta temps (3/24/99) It's no wonder we keep setting "record temperatures."
"America, the beautiful carbon sink" (3/24/99) Peter Huber writes in Forbes "America's terrestrial uptake of carbon runs an estimated 1.7 billion metric tons per year, just ahead of our fossil fuel emissions. Put it another way: If the estimate is right, we don't owe the rest of the world a dime on this one. They owe us."
"Pass-the-blame attitude fueling silly litigation" (3/24/99) Tom Weber writes in the Bangor Daily News "So many victims, so few courtrooms."
"The Week That Was March 15-21, 1999" (3/24/99) The weekly round-up from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"Mean-ingless Measures?" (3/24/99) The Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) asks "How does one establish a climate 'mean,' or average, for the entire globe? "
"Beyond MTBE: Banning gas additive won't clean the air" (3/24/99) From the Sacramento Bee.
"House casts a vote for Mainers' health" (3/24/99) The Portland Press-Herald beats its readers over the head with secondhand smoke nonsense: "Dr. Dora Mills, director of the Maine Health Bureau, has made a compelling case for banning restaurant smoking on behalf of Gov. King. A Mainer a day dies because of second-hand smoke, she said." Ask the Press-Herald for the identity of yesterday's Mainer who died from secondhand smoke.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Ignorance makes success of oil cleanup hard to gauge " (3/24/99) On the 10th anniverray of the Exxon Valdez incident, USA Today comments "More troublesome is knowing when enough is enough. Each otter saved in Prince William Sound cost $80,000; each eagle, $10,000. Absent a clear understanding of the sound's biology, it is impossible to know whether that was money well spent or wasted; whether, in the end, what was truly harmed was truly saved."
"Clear up misunderstanding about cleanup" (3/24/99) The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorializes "Gov. Tommy Thompson has come up with what looks like a promising idea to help create jobs for low-income people,... by cleaning up brownfields. Unfortunately, the proposal is getting a toxic reception because of misunderstanding and even some community hysteria. "
"Battle over nuclear waste is unjustified" (3/24/99) A health physicist writes in the deseret News "By joining the rest of the radiation hazard illiterate states in the philosophy of "not in my back yard," Utah is helping to close the door on nuclear power. I believe this is an unjustified position which fully informed Utah citizens would not want to take."
"A decade later, stains from oil spill remain" (3/24/99) The Baltimore Sun complains "Exxon and others are still shipping tons of oil in the same fragile, 1,000-foot-long vessels with hulls only an inch thick." But given all the oil transported in all the oil tankers over the last 40 years, isn't the entire process really pretty safe?
"Remember the Exxon Valdez" (3/24/99) The Boston Globe exploits the Exxon Valdez accident to argue against oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic Wildlife Refuge. What's the connection between a tanker accident and drilling?
"NRC says Seabrook fired whistleblower" (3/24/99) Timed perfectly for the twentieth anniversary of the Three Mile Island incident?
"Valdez Spill Leaves Bitter Residue; Oil is gone after 10 years, but ecological, economic fallout continues" (3/24/99) "It was a decade ago today that the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef, hemorrhaging nearly 11 million gallons of black, viscous crude oil into the pristine waters of Prince William Sound."
"Those picky, picky garbage refuseniks" (3/24/99) David Benjamin writes in the San Francisco Examiner "The government still coddles gas-guzzling cars and sport utility vehicles. In order to make the ozone layer safe for these greenhouse gassers, various EPAs have banned the burning of leaves, weeds, grass, branches, cardboard and other sweet-smelling combustibles, all of which trashmen classify as 'bulky.' They don't take 'bulky.'"
PHILIP E. CLAPP CRAP: "Cutting the nonsense about cutting the haze" (3/24/99) Visibility at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Grand Canyon was much better at the turn of the century. Of course you'd have to visit those scenic spots by the time you were 45 or so -- average life expectancy at the time. Sure there's more pollution now -- there are also a lot more people doing a lot more things. The bottom line is that the vast majority of us are living longer and healthier lives. While we should try to minimize pollution, there's no need to alarm people and distort the facts. By the way, this op-ed's reference to 15,000 deaths per year from air pollution is what sparked the new data access law. Fight junk science by entering the "Secret Science" Sweepstakes."
"Speaker Seeks Probe of MTBE Discharge Into Coastal Waters" (3/24/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Adding a new wrinkle to the contentious debate over the safety of MTBE, Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday called for a state investigation into the health effects of dumping hundreds of pounds a day of the gasoline additive into Santa Monica Bay and other coastal waters."
"Israeli court rejects Viagra defense in rape " (3/24/99) The Associated Press reports "An Israeli court convicted a man of rape Tuesday, rejecting his argument Viagra caused him to lose control but conceding it was a contributing factor in the assault."
"Coal power plant proven to be biggest source of haze in Grand Canyon" (3/24/99) The Associated Press reports "The Environmental Protection Agency study found that the Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nev., 75 miles west of the national landmark, does not create the majority of the haze but is the largest single source of it."
"Iowan Wants World to Beat a Path Into His Rain Forest" (3/24/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "A wealthy designer of meat-packing equipment, Townsend wants to build the world's largest artificial rain forest in Des Moines."
"Arco Discloses Development of Decisively Cleaner Diesel Fuel" (3/24/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Scientists at Atlantic Richfield Co. have developed a new experimental diesel fuel that the Los Angeles oil company said could make "dramatic reductions" in air pollutants from buses, trucks and cars."
STUDY RETRACTED: Toothpaste-cancer claims retracted after 10 days (3/23/99) A recent study suggested that hydrogen peroxide may promote oral cancer. The University at Buffalo now has retracted the study because the data were mistakenly interpreted. The study was conducted in hamsters that had carcinogen-induced buccal lesions, which were treated three times weekly with hydrogen peroxide. Using a fluorescence photometer, the investigators observed greater uptake of fluorescence in the right cheek lesions than in the left lesions after 2.5 weeks. The University at Buffalo said that "[a]ny differences in fluorescence cannot be interpreted as being due to promotion of precancerous lesions or of cancerous lesions by hydrogen peroxide in this study." No cancerous lesions have developed in any of the animals under study since the study's inception.
"Coffee may help fight cancer" (3/23/99) This study will come in handy if you open a Starbuck's franchise in a hamster cage.
A SUPREME VICTORY: "'Junk Science' Testimony Is Limited" (3/23/99) The Associated Press reports "The Supreme Court gave American businesses more ammunition to fend off product-liability lawsuits Tuesday by extending the reach of guidelines that let trial judges exclude 'junk science' as evidence."
JUNK OF THE MOMENT: "Study: Solvents Cause Birth Defects" (3/23/99) "Dr. Richard Schwarz, obstetrics consultant to the March of Dimes, said the study was too small to draw definite conclusions about the risk of birth defects. He also questioned its methods because the study group was selected from women who had called with concerns about pregnancy."
"Researching acid rain" (3/23/99) It's funny how this Bangor News editorial makes no mention of the $570 million National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program report that concluded "there is no evidence of widespread forest damage from current ambient levels of acid rain in the United States." It also concluded that acid rain does not contribute significantly to the acidity of lakes and streams.
"Is FDA Too Quick To Clear Drugs? Growing Recalls, Side-Effect Risks Raise Questions" (3/23/99) Or should physicians be more careful in prescribing drugs and monitoring patients? I'd rather have more choices available to more careful physicians than fewer choices accompanied by worthless bureaucratic assurances.
"'Cynical' Monsanto branded public enemy number one" (3/23/99) The Independent (UK) reports "Monsanto, the firm at the centre of the controversy over genetically modified food, is "public enemy number one", a Liberal Democrat MP told the House of Commons last night."
"Smoking Out Crime's Roots" (3/23/99) The real news here is that the Washington Post actually printed the sentence "Nervous parents shouldn't read too much into one study."
"Debate Brews Over Caffeine Addiction -- Study Also Confirms Caffeine Improves Alertness And Energy" (3/23/99) "Most coffee drinkers feel they function better after that morning cup of java, and many researchers agree. But is it addictive? A French medical researcher will present new data that says it isn't addictive for most people, at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society."
"School lunch menu more of same -- high-fat foods" (3/23/99) Why focus so much on kids' diets? This British Medical Journal study from last week concludes "Dieting is the most important predictor of new eating disorders. Differences in the incidence of eating disorders between sexes were largely accounted for by the high rates of earlier dieting and psychiatric morbidity in the female subjects. In adolescents, controlling weight by exercise rather than diet restriction seems to carry less risk of development of eating disorders."
TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Inventing the Internet" (3/23/99) Mark Russell writes in his column "By now you know that Al Gore recently claimed to have invented the Internet -- and I believe him. I also believe that it was in the same scientific laboratory where Gore himself was invented by Dr. Frankenstein."
"Supervisors vote to eliminate dioxin; Target white paper, PVC plastic as contaminant sources" (3/23/99) The San Francisco Examiner reports "Backed by environmental groups, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed a resolution aimed at eliminating the contaminant dioxin."
"Trick... or Treatment? " (3/23/99) The New York Post reports "Diana Fischer Stevens of Brooklyn suspected she had breast cancer. But when an herbalist held a pendulum over her in 1997 and asked her body if it had the disease, the pendulum said no. "If I had listened to him, I'd be dead," she said. Fed up with conventional medicine, millions of Americans are putting their trust in unproven alternative treatments - without much protection against dangerous scams."
"Oversight of Superfund Sites May Be Restored" (3/23/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "The state Senate on Monday approved a bill that would restore the authority of the state Department of Toxic Substance Control to identify and clean up Superfund hazardous waste sites."
"Conejo Creek Dam Project Spawns Ire" (3/23/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Opponents say the stream is prime habitat for the endangered steelhead trout, but water officials have found no scientific evidence."
"Pop Culture: Health Advocates Sound Alarm as Schools Strike Deals With Coke and Pepsi" (3/23/99) The Washington Post reports "The National Soft Drink Association has challenged the information being presented by the health advocates [translation: "food police"], calling it 'an insult to consumer intelligence.' Any attempts to link soft drinks to health problems, the group says, 'are not supported by the facts.'"
"Rousing Kids To Caffeine's Consequences" (3/23/99) I'd stick with the main messages -- about alcohol and drug abuse. Leave soda pop alone. I'll be quite happy if the worst thing my daughter does is have a coke for breakfast.
"Dogs Blamed For City's Air Pollution" (3/22/99) Reuters reports "Authorities are blaming dog feces for contributing to Mexico City's infamous air pollution and are appealing to dog owners to help deal with the problem."
"Why cutting fats may harm the heart" (3/22/99) Science News reports "For many people, low-fat diets may increase heart-disease risks by triggering adverse changes among carrier molecules that shuttle fatty substances through the blood."
"Health effects of global warming" (3/22/99) Reuters reports "Climate changes noted over the past several decades may already be having an adverse effect on human health, according to Dr. Gro Brundtland, director of the World Health Organization (WHO)."
"Activists blast Home Depot despite move to go green " (3/22/99) Can you be "barbaric" just by cutting down trees?
"The facts on global warming" (3/22/99) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has set itself up for major embarassment. Be sure to tune in Wednesday.
TOP STORY: "Making science an open book" (3/22/99) U.S News and World Report reports the controversy over "secret science." Click here for my article about George Thurston referenced by U.S News and World Report. Don't forget to enter the "Secret Science" Sweepstakes.
TODAY'S GORE-ING: SUVs for Yugos? (3/22/99) Cal Thomas writes in the Washington Times (Mar. 21) "Mr. Gore continues to cling to the creed of his fellow Earth-worshipers that the unproved theory of global warming will vaporize us all unless government steps in and forces us to reshape our lives and lifestyles. Under Mr. Gore, we'd trade in our SUVs for the transportation equivalent of Yugos. Unemployed people could be absorbed into environment-related positions that would promote the secular dirt gods with the zeal of Buddhist temple fund-raisers."
"The sound of science" (3/22/99) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch rightly notes "So far, much of the public discussion [about the safety of biotechnology] has been based on fear rather than facts."
"Urban sprawl: A variety of tools could curb haphazard growth" (3/22/99) Note that Al Gore's "livability agenda" is not one of the "tools."
"Deadly bacteria can be licked with more effort" (3/22/99) The Houston Chronicle editorializes "Tuberculosis kills an estimated 2 million to 3 million people a year... The World Bank reports that treating TB is one of the most cost-effective health interventions available, at a cost of only $20 to $100 to save a life." Meanwhile Al Gore wants to spend $4 billion per year on the fabled global warming.
"Water and growth" (3/22/99) The Fresno Bee editorializes "Three bills before the state Legislature this year promise to help frame a much-needed debate on water and growth - if they are not quickly killed by interests who wish to avoid such a discussion."
"Hardly an Ounce for Prevention" (3/22/99) Daniel Greenberg writes in the Washington Post "As Congress goes to work on the budget, it's sleepwalking, as usual, toward another big increase for the most beloved and uncontestable item in the federal lineup -- medical research."
"A step forward -- Action by Taft, EPA promising for Marion " (3/22/99) The Columbus Dispatch recognizes "The unfortunate reality is that finding a cause for the so-called cancer clusters is virtually impossible. Only 10 percent to 20 percent of leukemia cases can be linked to a specific carcinogen, according to Barbara Slade, a pathologist with the Atlanta-based Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. In most cases, what triggers this disease, like many other cancers, is unknown."
"The big spill: An ocean struggles to recover a decade after the United States' worst environmental disaster." (3/22/99) From the Christian Science Monitor; part 1 of 2, the Valdez spill, 10 years later.
"Tainted land: Mishandling of pesticide contamination called 'government at its worst'" (3/22/99) Just because pesticide levels in drinking water are above federal and state standards does not mean the water is "unsafe." For substances the EPA assumes to be carcinogens, assumptions based on extrapolation from high-dose animal experiments, the Safe Drinking Water Act requires the regulatory level be set as close to zero as feasible.
"Media's Practice of 'Ride-Alongs' Faces High Court" (3/22/99) "The Montana case began in 1993, when federal agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wanted to expose an environmental problem."
"Oil Refiners Want Time For New Rules" (3/22/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Looming pollution regulations on the U.S. oil refining industry coincide with an industry-wide economic crisis and refiners need time to comply, refinery officials said Sunday."
"Life on Mars debate reborn" (3/22/99) The Boston Globe reports "Leading the team that will try to disprove the Martian origin of these formations is microbiologist Andrew Steele, who provocatively suggested that the geologists examining the Mars rocks simply don't know enough about Earthly microbial life to know what to look for."
"Unburned gas may pose harm: Marine life at risk from any fuel that spilled into bay" (3/22/99) The Boston Globe reports "Though acrid black smoke from a tanker truck explosion on the Southeast Expressway could be seen from miles away, state officials said last night that the gasoline that ran into the waters of Dorchester Bay posed the greater long-term threat to the environment."
"Major heart study aims to identify, protect at-risk teens " (3/22/99) Of course, Framingham, MA is just like the rest of America.
"International Scientific Committee Warns of Serious Risks of Breast and Prostate Cancer from Monsanto's Hormonal Milk" (3/21/99) So proclaims cancer-Cassandra, Sam Epstein.
TODAY'S GORE-ING: Al Gore the weather bore (3/21/99) Dale McFeatters writes in the Deseret News "The issue that shows the vice president at his satirical best is global warming. The implicit promise is: "Vote for me and you'll have good weather." Also implicit in that message is that, because of their regressive views on ozone, bad weather -- blizzards, droughts, tornadoes -- is the Republicans' fault. It makes for a great campaign slogan: "Everybody talks about the weather but Al Gore does something about it."
"10 years later, debate still rages over effects of Exxon Valdez oil spill " (3/21/99) The Seattle Times reports "Most of that research has been bankrolled either by oil companies, environmental groups or state agencies, each of which has a powerful interest in one conclusion or another."
"The Exxon Valdez oil spill may be a distant memory, but can we afford to forget?" (3/21/99) The Exxon Valdez oil spill was an accident. Get over it.
"Schools, society need evolutionary science" (3/21/99) Prof. Richard E. lenski writes in the Detroit News "We citizens of the United States have prospered because of our scientific enterprise as well as our tolerance of diverse religious beliefs. As a nation, we must find ways to continue both of these traditions. An important step is for us to recognize, and accept, the fundamental difference between science and religion."
"Ending years of stalling on leaky Hanford tanks " (3/21/99) The Seattle Times editorializes "Hanford now will be forced to deal with the worst first. The leakiest tanks, the greatest risks, finally get top priority."
"Forest Service Bans Oil Paint After Workers File Health Suit" (3/21/99) The Associated Press reports "The Forest Service has ordered an end to the use of oil-based paint to mark trees for logging after workers blamed the paint on an increase in miscarriages and other ailments."
"Smithsonian Museum in Cross-Hairs of Debate" (3/21/99) "The Smithsonian has given an excuse to trophy hunters who kill these rare animals and then have a stamp of scientific approval placed on their conduct," said Wayne Pacelle, vice president of the Humane Society of the United States."
"A Brewing Controversy" (3/21/99) The Los Angeles Times asks "Do donations from liquor companies to Latino groups keep them from speaking out on health issues?"
"Heavy Brush and Dry Spell Spark Fire Fear" (3/21/99) When El Nino is blamed, can global warming be far behind?
"Einstein, Wright brothers among picks as `greatest minds'" (3/21/99) Time picks Rachel Carson as one of the 20th century's great minds. Carson was a FOOL -- all alarm and all wrong. She was wrong about DDT and wrong about chemicals causing an epidemic of cancer. More foolish than Carson is paying homage to her.
"One billion people lack safe water around the world, experts say" (3/21/99) Ted Turner pledged $1 billion to the U.N. That money could be used to bring a lot of water to a lot of people. Instead, Ted's money will be used to make sure there are fewer people.
"Depleted uranium 'low risk' for Gulf veterans " (3/21/99) The BBC reports "A toxic, radioactive material used in the Gulf War is unlikely to have contributed to Gulf War Illness, according to a government report."
"Radiation threat to unborn" (3/21/99) The UK may try a more sensible approach to radiation protection.
"Asia-Pacific Nuclear nightmare revealed " (3/21/99) How do they know its the radiation?
"Dioxin 'scare' is bunk" (3/21/99) A great letter in the Deseret News.
"Scientist says more research needed on pollutants effect on impoverished communities" (3/21/99) Impoverished communities suffer from poverty -- not chemicals.
TODAY'S GORE-ING "V.P.'s gaffe: Tilting at environmental windmills" (3/20/99) The president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine writes in the San Francisco Examiner "One down. One to go. Now that President Clinton has been impeached, it's time to expose Al Gore."
"Demon weed" (3/20/99) The Detroit News editorializes "Research claiming to show that heavy smoking causes women to give birth to criminals fails to take into account various other explanations."
"Court Rules Pollution Criminal" (3/20/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "A federal appeals court ruled that water pollution can be punishable by a year in jail if caused by simple negligence or carelessness, setting a broad standard for prosecutors."
"Curbs Ordered on Methyl Bromide Use" (3/20/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Foes of methyl bromide won a key victory this week when a Superior Court judge ordered the state to adopt new regulations governing use of the highly toxic pest killer."
"Alaska Struggles to Recover, 10 Years After Exxon Valdez" (3/20/99) From the Los Angeles Times.
LAUGHER OF THE DAY "He's hissed off by state suit to save snakes" (3/19/99) New York state sues a lnadowner because his fence may "worry" snakes.
"Environmental Alarmism: The Children's Crusade" (3/19/99) Stephen Huebner and Ken Chilton write "Rather than using children's health as a rhetorical weapon in regulatory debates, we should publicize the proven dangers to children and promote the actions that we know can make a difference."
"35 Reasons Not to Vote for Al Gore, Jr." (3/19/99) From my good friend Alan Caruba at the National Anxiety Center. Don't forget to get the Center's poster "The Earth is Fine, Save Yourself" at the Junk Science Bookstore.
"Md. Plans To Shift Pollution Liability; Poultry Firms Would Be Responsible for Manure" (3/19/99) I would like to see a study showing the effect of poultry manure on the Chesapeake Bay. Intuitively, the chicken farmers make a good target. I'm afraid that intution -- not science -- is driving Maryland's move. Pfiesteria hysteria -- also blamed on chicken farmers -- seems to have vanished though the farmers remain.
"Cold shoulder to warming ideas" (3/19/99) Jonathan Adler writes in the Washington Times "Vice President Al Gore spent much of 1998 auditioning for the job of national weatherman. But this month, as unanticipated snowstorms blanketed the Capitol, he preferred to talk about the traffic. Apparently he or his advisers thought better of trying to explain why March snowstorms were signs of global warming."
USA Today poll on food safety (3/19/99) USA Today asks: "Contaminated food causes millions of illnesses in the U.S. each year. To kill food-borne microbes in raw meat, the USDA has declared irradiation -- the treatment of food with brief doses of gamma rays or electron beams -- a safe treatment. Critics question its long-term effects. Does the USDA's decision reflect what you consider safe? Would you eat irradiated foods?"
Return of the dead: "Mars Crock" (3/19/99) The original Mars rock claim made this page in 1996.
"Critic's Book Denounces NASA, Media" (3/19/99) A well-deserved thrashing about the Mars rock nonsense.
"Feinstein, Boxer want fuel additives examined; Davis asked to quickly ban MTBE, which has tainted drinking water" (3/19/99) No scientific body has found MTBE to be a human carcinogen.
"Air-Pollution Cancer Risk Reported High in Bay Area" (3/19/99) The San Francisco Chronicle reports "Despite improvements in air quality, the risk of cancer from air pollution in the Bay Area still far exceeds the goal set a decade ago by federal regulations, according to a report released yesterday."
"The anthrax rebellion: Fears of needed vaccine appear unfounded" (3/19/99) The Sacramento Bee editorializes "As Blanck has acknowledged, a lot of the paranoia can be traced to "an undercurrent of distrust of the government and the military." Between Agent Orange and the nuclear tests of the 1950s, the military has squandered a good deal of credibility."
TODAY'S GORE-ING "The secret life of Al Gore" (3/19/99) The New York Post editorializes "Al Gore may soon discover that the American people understand all too well exactly what it is he's really been shoveling."
Passive smoke and gum disease? (3/18/99) "Analysis of the data showed that persons exposed to passive smoking were at significantly increased risk of having more severe periodontal disease than those who were not exposed, after adjusting for age, gender, race, education, income and diabetes mellitus, important known risk factors of gum disease."
'Mad Cow' returns? (3/18/99) An unusually high number of deaths from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) were reported in the UK in the last quarter of 1998, according to a report in The Lancet (Mar. 20). Nine vCJD-related deaths were recorded in the fourth quarter of last year vs. a prior high of five. The researchers don't think the increase was due to improved case ascertainment. They said their result should be interpreted with caution because there could be several less alarming reasons than the beginning of a substantial escalation of cases.
"Toothlessness rates vary state to state" (3/18/99) Your tax dollars at work.
"Animated film characters often smoke, drink" (3/18/99) So when can we expect the lawsuits against Warner Brothers, Hanna-Barbera, Disney etc.?
"Immediate pesticide ban demanded " (3/18/99) Devra Lee Davis calls lindane an "insidious compound." Sir Richard Doll calls Devra Lee Davis' work "uninteresting," "uninformative," "boring" and "old junk."
"Report Calls for Wetlands Expansion; Scientists say 60,000 more acres of marsh are needed for bay health " (3/18/99) From the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Smoking and women: beauty before age?" (3/18/99) Anti-tobacco zealot Simon Chapman mulls over messages to scare people away from smoking.
"CJD families to sue government" (3/18/99) The BBC reports "The families of people who have contracted the human form of BSE are to sue the government for exposing them to infected beef."
"This is CNN" (3/18/99) Ken Smith writes in the Washington Times "Bad reporting is not itself a crime, but this incident is an unhappy reminder that readers and viewers can't necessarily count on journalists for objective journalism. CNN reporters lined up an elderly Montana couple in the cross hairs of their cameras and when the truth momentarily got in the way, they buried it with the nonexistent eagles. Then they pulled the trigger. This, as the network likes to say, is CNN."
"EPA throws new twist in rules for cleaner air" (3/18/99) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports "State officials are angry over what seemed to be a routine announcement this week by the Environmental Protection Agency."
"How salmon saved Seattle" (3/18/99) This San Francisco Examiner editorial says "The federal listing of nine Northwest salmon runs as threatened or endangered promises to have a profound effect on the future life of that part of the country. Beneficiaries will include the burgeoning human population there, because the steps required to protect the salmon from being wiped out by civilization will have to result in healthier conditions for people as well." So people wouldn't have healthier conditions if it weren't for the fish?
"California Capitol May Cause Cancer" (3/18/99) The Associated Press reports San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown wants a thorough inspection of the state Capitol because he thinks the building may be killing people. Brown says there's enough cancer among legislators, ex-legislators and staffers to warrant a full epidemiological survey. Brown asked for the study after former Senate Minority Leader Ken Maddy announced last month he had lung cancer. Six lawmakers have died in the last 12 years of cancer, including former Speaker Jesse Unruh. "There's something in that building that's causing cancer and nothing is going to change my mind," said former Assemblyman Gerald Felando, who suffered from a rare form of lymphoma in the early 1990s.
"Nuclear pill remains a controversial therapy for radiation exposure" (3/18/99) The Associated Press reports "State and federal officials are wrestling with potassium iodide's costs and benefits 20 years after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident brought attention to the drug as a shield against thyroid cancer."
"Ukraine orders Chernobyl reactor shut down" (3/18/99) The Associated Press reports "Ukraine's government has ordered an idle reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant permanently shut down to comply with an earlier pledge to fully close the station."
"Utah Governor Fighting Nuclear Waste Site on Indian Land; Small tribe sees no other hope for development " (3/18/99) The San Francisco Chronicle reports "Income from a nuclear fuel storage facility would provide 40 permanent jobs in addition to 500 temporary construction jobs. It also would provide the tribe with enough revenue to build a police station, fire station, health clinic and better water and electrical services."
"Fighting sprawl: A problem best solved outside the Beltway " (3/18/99) From The Record (Bergen County, NJ).
"Smog Study of Children Yields Ominous Results" (3/18/99) But the researchers "could not explain why the incidence of excessive respiratory disease did not correlate with the highest levels of outdoor air pollution. This contrasts with the separate finding of girls' reduced lung capacity in highly polluted areas." Click here for the abstract.
"Surfers Find Dredging to Be a Natural Turnoff" (3/18/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Dumping of silt from Ventura Keys project is making the water dark and smelly. However, officials say it's not hazardous, just unattractive."
TODAY'S GORE-ING "Ready for Gore's 1,000 Years?" (3/18/99) James P. Pinkerton writes in the Los Angeles Times "Gore ought to think twice before conflating himself with those who decisively shaped this century. His rhetorical trope--that America's finest hour will come thanks to his presidency--is of course a lift from Prime Minister Winston Churchill's speech to the House of Commons on June 18, 1940: 'Let us brace ourselves to our duty,' Churchill said as Hitler's Luftwaffe rained incendiary bombs down on London, 'and so bear ourselves that if the British Commonwealth and Empire lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."'"
"DWP Gets High-Tech Weapon in War on Slime " (3/18/99) A great thing about chlorine is that it disinfects drinking water all the way to your tap. Cancer concerns are based on weak statistical associations from a meta-analysis of case-control studies.
"Woonasquatucket dams pose a dilemma" (3/18/99) The Providence Journal reports "Lawmakers with districts downstream worried that a dam breach could release clouds of dioxin-tainted sediment into the river."
"Work 'ruins your health'" (3/18/99) The BBC reports "Work is becoming more intensive with many people believing it is having an adverse effect on their health, according to a survey."
"Cold 'killing 50,000' each winter" (3/18/99) The BBC reports "Friends of the Earth is demanding a 15-year programme to put an end to the thousands of deaths that occur each year in the UK as a result of the cold."
".08 - a license to kill" (3/17/99) So say this Seattle Times op-ed. But how about some evidence that 0.08 saves lives? A recent study from the University of North Carolina fails to show such a standard would measurably impact the alcohol-related traffic fatality rate. Click here for the study in PDF format.
"Asbestos answers: Task force findings provide focus for foothills" (3/17/99) The Sacramento bee editorializes "There is no reason for widespread panic. But in limited stretches of the foothills there is cause for more research, careful planning and better science in the wake of findings by a task force that set out to answer whether asbestos in the foothills bedrock of El Dorado County poses a health threat."
"Fish(y) habitats" (3/17/99) The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorializes "The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission wants to add eight species to the commonwealth's list of endangered fish, reptiles, amphibians and mussels. And where might these at-risk varieties be? Well, most are thought to be in western Pennsylvania. But, shhhhh! It's so top secret that government-types are refusing to say exactly where."
"Congress Reins In Regulatory Beast" (3/17/99) Bonner R. Cohen writes in Investor's Business Daily "It's hardly fashionable these days to say something good about Congress. But we must give credit to a group of hardy souls who are taking on America's Leviathan-like regulatory structure."
"A Civil Action, Part 2" (3/17/99) Sounds like the remedy for Ecudoreans, to the extent there should be one, is against the Ecudorean government, not Texaco.
"Cost of New Regulations Generally Overestimated, RFF Economists Find" (3/17/99) Wake me for the RFF report titled "Benefits of New Regulations Generally Overestimated."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Eat your ketchup, too" (3/17/99) The New York Post editorializes "Nothing's as lovely as a tree, to paraphrase Joyce Kilmer. But what about the smog?"
What are kids learning from enviros? (3/17/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "'I learned we need to scoop up dog poop because thousands and thousands of it ends up in the ocean and we swim in it,' said George Bautista, 9, of Wilsona Elementary School in Lancaster."
"County Offers New Vision for Santa Monicas" (3/17/99) "It's all a political thing brought up because a lot of our political leaders want to enhance their environmental platform."
"Minority Children Show Risk of Heart Disease, Study Finds" (3/17/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Many Mexican American and African American children as young as 9 are already beginning to acquire risk factors for heart disease in later life, according to a new analysis of health data on more than 7,000 U.S. residents ages 6 to 24."
"Cooking microwave research" (3/16/99) "Fosters Lager" is Australian for beer. Stewart Fist must be Australian for "cell phone paranoia."
"Mobile caused brain damage, claims man" (3/16/99) The BBC reports "A BT engineer is planning to sue his former employers, claiming protracted use of mobile phones has caused him brain damage."
"£40,000 for widow of smoker'denied bypass'" (3/16/99) I'd say we're getting into dangerous territory when medical treatment is refused on the basis of lifestyle.
"Medical studies clash over impact of fat intake on breast cancer" (3/16/99) "A study published in this week's Journal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) draws the opposite conclusion of a study published in last week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and reported by CNN."
Terrific Chicago Daily Herald series (3/16/99) Click here for "Remember, one study no cause for alarm." Click here for "Wasted worries, wasted dollars, group says." Click here for "The environment often seems far more hazardous to your health than it really is."
CANCER STAT OF THE DAY: Bad news for the anti-chemical crowd about cancer in children (3/16/99) The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports (Mar. 17) "As a childhood disease, cancer is rare, with 8,400 news cases expected in U.S. children ages 0 to 14 in 1999. However, it is the leading cause of death by disease in this age group, with 1,600 deaths expected this year. Since 1973, the incidence rate for cancer in children has changed little, but the death rate has declined about 50% from 1973 to 1995." This contradicts enviro alarmism that childhood cancer is on the rise.
Anti-pesticide researcher/activist mugged by friends (3/16/99) Like Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) in the movie Apocalypse Now, Janette Sherman, crusader-researcher against the pesticide chlorpyrifos (Dursban), has been undercut' by friendly forces. Writing in the Archives of Environmental Health (March/April 1999), anti-pesticide bureaucrat Richard Jackson and others from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention write "In summary, although we share Dr. Sherman's concern about these exposures, and we agree that we need to work to minimize people's exposure to chlorpyrifos, we found no convincing evidence that women's exposure to chlorpyrifos leads to birth defects in their offspring." Click here for my 1996 write-up of Sherman's chlorpyrifos study. Click here for a classic Robert Duvall audio clip from Apocalypse Now.
'SECRET' STUDY OF THE DAY: Parental smoking and childhood leukemia (3/16/99) Studies linking parental smoking with cancer in children tend to be newsworthy. But the opposite isn't true. The journal Cancer reports (Mar. 15) that parental smoking is not associated with leukemia. This result is based on a case-control study of 2,359 leukemia patients and is consistent with the majority of other investigations of this issue. A Junk Science Home Page mug goes to anyone who can find a media report of this study.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Fear no more" (3/16/99) The Washington Times hails the end of the PCB scare.
"Jet traffic blamed for global warming" (3/16/99) The San Francisco Examiner reports "An explosion in commercial air traffic may be triggering formation of high-altitude clouds that trap heat and could worsen global warming."
"'Chemical AIDS' victims to sue multinationals" (3/16/99) Last Sunday's Independent reports "Thousands of victims of a syndrome known as "chemical AIDS" are set to claim millions of pounds of compensation after winning a long battle for their condition to be officially recognized."
Today's USA Today debate: Hepatitis C (3/16/99) Click here for USA Today's view that our "sluggish health system" has left an "obvious threat unaddressed." Click here for the view of Surgeon General David Satcher.
"Snow-melt chemical raises fear; Mountain towns curtail use of magnesium chloride, cite unknown health risks " (3/16/99) A Rocky Mountain News report based on "worry."
"Gore out of tune on urban sprawl" (3/16/99) Doron Levin writes in the Detroit Free Press "But to the extent Gore deplores suburban life, he's showing how out of tune he is with the American dream."
"Implant suit payoff near" (3/16/99) The Detroit News reports "The lengthy legal battle between Dow Corning Corp. and 170,000 women who claim the company's silicone breast implants made them sick could be nearing an end. On Monday, the company announced it is mailing details of a proposed $3.17-billion settlement to the women and other plaintiffs in lawsuits that in some instances have been pending for a decade."
"Forest Conservation Effort Finds Lush Donors in Cyber-Land " (3/16/99) In contrast the the $500 million of public funds recently used to purchase 10,000 acres of redwoods in California, private funds can, and should be used to accomplish the same goal.
"GOP needs environmental plan" (3/16/99) Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania writes "The federal Superfund program has, in 18 years, cleaned up only 13 of its original 111 sites in Pennsylvania, incurring unconscionable costs with little to show for it."
"The Week That Was March 8-14, 1999" (3/16/99) The weekly roundup from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"The Bioterrorism Panic" (3/16/99) Science journalist Daniel Greenberg writes in the Washington Post "No doubt there are nuts and demons out there planning evil things. But it should be noted that there's a whiff of hysteria-fanning and budget opportunism in the scary scenarios of the saviors who have stepped forward against the menace of bioterrorism."
"Millennium bug could have toxic effects for chemical companies, experts say" (3/15/99) Y2K is the latest weapon-of-terror in the enviro arsenal.
"'Road rage' linked to low rewards at home" (3/15/99) Reuters Health reports "Lots of responsibility at home with little reward may be one trigger of 'road rage' or aggressive driving in women, according to US researchers."
Pesticides and risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in men (3/15/99) A study in Cancer [1999;85:1353-1360] reports men with a history of exposure to certain herbicides and fungicides had higher-than-expected rates non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Exposure to any type of herbicide reportedly was associated with a 60% increase in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The reported increase was more than 100% for exposure to either of two particular herbicides, glyphosate or 4-chloro-2-methyl phenoxyacetic acid. Bottom line: These are weak statistical associations based on guesstimated exposures.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "When votes outweigh the facts" (3/15/99) Bill McManus opines in the New York Post "[New York state] Attorney General Eliot Spitzer conducted a dazzling panderfest of a campaign last fall; regarding chemical contamination of the Hudson River, he pulled up just short of a promise to make General Electric chief Jack Welch suck the river clean through a soda straw. But now comes yet another study demonstrating that the chemicals at issue, polychlorinated biphenals (PCBs), don't hurt people."
"Studies May Alter Insights Into Global Warming" (3/15/99) Curt Suplee reports in the Washington Post "Two new studies of the Earth's ancient atmosphere may alter the way scientists understand the relationship between airborne carbon dioxide and climate change--and hence the dynamics of future "greenhouse" global warming."
"Smallpox's Threat as Weapon Is Weighed" (3/15/99) Why keep samples of the smallpox virus? It was eradicated from the world 20 years ago -- with the help of the cowpox virus. This article features the thoughts of Dr. D.A. Henderson, former dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, leader of the WHO campaign to eradicate smallpox and fan of Silencing Science.
"Heed Goshutes on N-waste" (3/15/99) Nuclear waste can and should be stored safely where it's generated.
"Hanford: A matter of trust" (3/15/99) From the Seattle Times: "The Hanford Thyroid Disease Study will shape the landscape around Hanford for years to come. Politics will shape it more. As Dr. Thomas Hamilton politely put it, 'There are factors the CDC needs to consider other than science.'" Click here for an opposing commentary.
"Give Shoalwater tribe truth and compassion" (3/15/99) From the Seattle Times: "They call it a mystery. A crisis. A plague. And now, in the wake of renewed media attention, state and federal scientists have once again descended on the Shoalwater reservation in Tokeland to search for It, that elusive something lurking behind irregular pregnancies and infant mortality suffered by members of Washington's smallest and most impoverished Indian tribe."
"Pesticides May Harm Brain, Study Says" (3/15/99) This study appears in Toxicology and Industrial Health, edited by MTBE-crackpot Myron Mehlman. In addition to its technical limitations (discussed in the article), the study is published in a "journal" with an anti-chemical agenda.
OMITTED FACT OF THE DAY: "Smokers' Sons More Violent, Study Says" (3/15/99) This Los Angeles Times report omits to mention the accompanying editorial in the same issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry says it is premature to conclude that maternal prenatal smoking is a risk factor for anti-social behavior.
"It's a Matter of Health" (3/15/99) The Los Angeles Times editorializes "Several strains of bacteria have in the last decade developed resistance to the most powerful antibiotics we can throw at them. One root of the problem is the livestock industry's practice of dumping millions of pounds of antibiotics into animal feed and water every year." Gee, I wonder how the Times -- but no one else -- knows that adding antibiotics to animal feed is a "root" of this, so far, very limited problem?
"Manipulating statistics for a purpose" (3/14/99) "When research shows that "aggressive driving" is less of a problem in New York and Boston than in the rest of America's big cities, there's something wrong with the research."
"Experts Worry About the Return of a Deadly Germ in Cold Cuts" (3/14/99) Let's get a better grasp of the scope of the listeria problem before launching full-scale listeria-hysteria.
"Japanese Choke on American Biofood" (3/14/99) The Los Angeles Times reports: "The video whirs, and an American food exporter's nightmare rolls across the screen. A potato bug is shown munching on the deep green leaf of a potato plant--genetically engineered in the United States, the narrator says, to produce a toxin that kills Colorado potato bug larvae. The bug falls off the leaf, flailing its legs in the air in what looks like insect agony. 'They say this is safe, but I don't want to eat it. Do you?' asked the filmmaker, Junichi Kowaka, in an interview."
"On 25th Anniversary, Endangered Species Act Elicits Admiration, Ire" (3/14/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "It seemed only right then to protect an array of dwindling birds and animals: the majestic bald eagle, the powerful grizzly, the picturesque whooping crane, the condor with 10-foot wingspan and the feared alligator. Few realized it also would protect the snail darter, kangaroo rat, Delhi fly, black-spored quillwort and much-maligned furbish lousewort (a flowering plant in Maine)."
"In the Land of Sushi, Lab Tomato Strikes Out" (3/14/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Pity the "transgenic" tomato. It has become a cautionary tale for Japanese biotechnology."
"Marines Outflank Protesters in Monterey 'Invasion'" (3/14/99) From the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Monterrey?
"Scientists pick holes in Darwin moth theory" (3/14/99) The Daily Telegraph reports "EVOLUTION experts are quietly admitting that one of their most cherished examples of Darwin's theory, the rise and fall of the peppered moth, is based on a series of scientific blunders. Experiments using the moth in the Fifties and long believed to prove the truth of natural selection are now thought to be worthless, having been designed to come up with the 'right' answer."
"IVF treatment to be denied to smokers" (3/14/99) So will they get a tax rebate?
TODAY'S LESSON: "Ignore the health Nazis; live for the moment" (3/13/99) Former seniors road running champion Eve Pell writes in the San Francisco Examiner "Couch potatoes kind of like it when a fitness advocate comes to an untimely end; it gives them an argument to use against those who preach at them to start jogging and renounce hamburgers, smoking and beer."
"New era for environmentalists" (3/13/99) Ronald Reagan: "If you've seen one redwood tree you've seen them all."
"Gore's sprawling plan" (3/13/99) The Seattle Times editorializes "Vice President Al Gore has a sprawl problem. The 'Livability Agenda,' Gore's initiative to control suburban sprawl, is itself a sprawl of the federal government's proper role."
"Make food-safety tips part of diet guidelines" (3/13/99) If the federal government has to do something, food safety "tips" beat food safety bureaucracy.
"Feds can't solve all road woes" (3/13/99) The Deseret News writes "As Gore magnanimously explained, 'When parents are on the car phone talking to their kids explaining why they can't get home for dinner or can't do bedtime stories, that really has an impact on the quality of life.' Break out the hankies and send in the federal government."
"California, Here We Come; For clean air's sake, the U.S. should adopt California's strict limit on sulfur in gasoline" (3/13/99) "The argument for a double standard is that some areas of the country already have acceptable air quality and drivers there shouldn't have to pay a premium for low-sulfur gas."
"Maneuvers Canceled at Monterey Bay" (3/13/99) Our next enemy won't need an army -- just environmental activists.
"Inventors of paper clips and tall tales" (3/13/99) In a battle of facts, Al Gore is an unarmed man.
"Al Gore, beware: The big dogs are riding your bumper" (3/12/99) Bill McClellan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Al Gore and SUVs.
"EPA takes the right step" (3/12/99) The Denver Post shows what's wrong with the Superfund program -- it wants the Cadillac clean-up remedy as long as someone else is paying for it.
"Clean air: Texas needs to pick up the pace" (3/12/99) The Dallas Morning News sides with the EPA -- instead of Texans -- in a clean air battle.
Prostitution trumps pollution as inner city worry (3/12/99) Note that these inner city residents of Baton Rouge, LA don't list pollution or "environmental justice" as one of their concerns.
"Researchers downgrade brain chemical's addiction role" (3/12/99) The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA) reports about a new study in Nature: "Dopamine may not be the brain's "feel-good" chemical after all, a study found, suggesting that scientists trying to unlock the secrets of drug addiction may have been off-target for the past two decades."
New York State shakes down Nestle over alleged candy hazard (3/12/99) The Albany Times-Union reports "Although no New Yorkers complained about the product, state officials went after Nestle USA Inc. for its alleged misleading advertising -- claiming the candy was safe for children of all ages."
SCARE OF THE MOMENT: Toothpaste a cancer risk? (3/12/99) A new study from the University of Buffalo claims the hydrogen peroxide in your "whitening" toothpaste may be a cancer promoter. The claim is based on the application of a 3-percent hydrogen peroxide solution to existing oral lesions in the cheek pouches of hamsters.
"Perspectives on vinyl in medical products: How Risky Is Vinyl?; Small Doses of Phthalates May Be Better for Us Than Consequences of Alternatives" (3/12/99) A point-counterpoint in the San Francisco Chronicle. Click here for the view of Ken Green from the Reason Public Policy Institute. Click here for the view of Michael McNally, board chairman of Greenpeace USA.
"Children suffer worst effects of pollution in Mexico City" (3/12/99) Catchy headline, but misleading. If you read this article closely, you'll note that there was no scientific study to link link air pollution with respiratory disease in these children.
MISSING IN ACTION?: Carbon dioxide concentrations increase after warming, new study reports (3/12/99) "High resolution records from Antarctic ice cores show" that carbon dioxide concentrations increased by 80 to 100 parts per million by volume about 600 years after the warming of the last three deglaciations. The study questions the "straightforward application of the past CO2-climate relation to the recent anthropogenic warming." The study is reported in Science (Mar. 12)-- but not today's newspapers.
"Detroit: Target Cleanup Funds" (3/12/99) The Detroit News makes a radical recommendation: "The state should refrain from sending funds to Detroit until the city gets a better grasp of its cleanup needs."
"Dental treatment leads to lung function drop in asthmatic children" (3/12/99) Reuters Health reports "At least 10% of asthmatic children show a clinically significant fall in lung function following dental treatment, according to a study conducted at Columbus Children's Hospital in Ohio. The study involved 70 children with physician-diagnosed asthma. The children completed questionnaires covering stress and anxiety and underwent spirometry and other testing before a dental visit. Following the visit, lung function decreased significantly in 1 in 10 subjects. The researchers don't know what caused the decrease, but stress and dental anxiety were not found to be important in this study. [Pediatric Asthma and Allergy Immunology 1998;12:271-272.]
"The Week That Was March 1-7, 1999" (3/11/99) "Here is a book review written by Fred Singer that suggests: Global Warming is Good for You! (The book is mentioned in the current issue of Science, with approval but without the enthusiam it deserves.) "
"Food poisoning cases down in 1998" (3/11/99) Let's get a grip on what's really going on with food poisoning before rushing into even more food bureaucracy.
"It's Activists, Not Chips, Making People Sick" (3/11/99) A Michael Fumento piece on the fat substitute olestra.
TOP STORY: Al Gore: Father of the Internet? (3/11/99) Al Gore told CNN's Wolf Blitzer "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." This claim rivals Gore's prior fraudulent claim that he was the model for Love Story stud, Oliver Barrett IV, played in the movie by Ryan O'Neal. In reality, author Erich Segal modeled Barret on Gore's roommate Tommy Lee Jones. Click here for House Science Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner's response.
"Alexander Calls for an End to the MTBE Gas Additive; Declares Nation Should Opt for the Cleaner Alternative of Ethanol" (3/11/99) Is Lamar Alexnder running for president of the United States or president of Archer Daniels Midland? Click here if you don't get it.
"The costs foreducing carbon emissions: An Examination of Administration Forecasts" (3/11/99) Peter VanDoren of the Cato institute asks "How much will it cost the United States to comply with the Kyoto protocol?"
"UM delegation lobbies for acid rain research" (3/11/99) The Bangor Daily News reports "University of Maine scientists were in Washington this week and last urging the state's congressional delegation and the Environment Protection Agency to commit more resources to studying acid rain." What if we just gave them some money NOT to do any research?
TOP STORY: Enviros can't believe PCB scare is over (3/10/99) The new, largest-ever study of long-term, high-level PCB exposures that reports no increase in cancer risk has shocked the enviros and some New York state officials. We're not surprised, though, because we knew there never was any credible evidence that PCBs caused cancer in humans.
"Global warming is not a proven fact" (3/11/99) CEI's Paul Georgia enlightens the Roanoke Times.
"Reasonable Doubts: A Woburn FAQ" (3/11/99) Wally Olson's article from the April issue of Reason.
"A change of heart: Do infections play a role in heart disease?" (3/11/99) From the Sacramento Bee.
"Emergence of drug resistance requires regulations" (3/11/99) The Dallas Morning News takes an early fall for antibiotic-in-animal-feed hysteria.
A pouty EPA (3/11/99) The Arizona Republic editorializes "Hard as it may be to imagine the mighty Environmental Protection Agency with wounded feelings, that's the weepy spectacle in New River today."
"Troubled waters" (3/11/99) The Orlando Sentinel asks "What's the harm in spending a few more million dollars to "restore" polluted Lake Apopka?"
"Pollyanna views" (3/11/99) A hand-wringer from the Audubon Society writes in the Charlotte Observer "We live in our world -- a world full of people who do not or cannot understand the environmental consequences of their actions. Witness our insatiable appetite for gas-guzzling SUVs."
"The Furby: Innocent Toy or Hospital Threat? ECRI Investigates the Answer" (3/11/99) Some hospitals have banned the Furby toy because of fears its transmission of infrared signals could interfer with medical equipment.
"Ford About to Unveil 4 Tons of Controversy" (3/11/99) The Los Angeles Times reports Ford chairman William Clay Ford, Jr. as saying "What we do to help the environment must succeed as a business proposition. A zero-emission vehicle that sits unsold on a dealer's lot is not reducing pollution." If this guy hadn't inherited his success, what Detroit street corner would he be living on?
"Agriculture Chief Faces New Round of Criticism" (3/11/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Already in hot water with the Board of Supervisors, Ventura County's top farm official now faces criticism from state regulators who say the pesticide control program he runs is woefully inadequate."
"Mexico Under Fire Over Pollution" (3/11/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Environmentalists charge a salt plant on the Baja California Peninsula -run by the Mexican government in a joint venture with Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. -killed the animals with discharges of brine."
"Antarctic shows signs of wear and tear" (3/11/99) An enviro whines about Antarctica in the Detroit News. The president of the Michigan Environmental Council writes "Antarctica is so fragile that the old adage 'Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints,' is not sufficiently protective. A boot that leaves a footprint on an Antarctic rock is likely to have destroyed a rare lichen that may have struggled to live through decades of minimalist growing seasons."
"New environmental report evokes mixed reactions" (3/10/99) Check out the Junkman's reaction.
Chlorpyrifos duel (3/10/99) Allegations by Janette Sherman are answered by Dow AgroSciences.
"Regional Differences Invalidate U.S. Sperm Trend Conclusions" (3/10/99) John Heinze says "The regional variation in sperm counts, with a nearly twofold difference in average sperm counts between Los Angeles and New York, invalidates any study that attempts to demonstrate a twofold decline in sperm counts based on trends over time in reporting of sperm counts from different regions of the United States."
Environmental Health Perspectives, Table of Contents (March 1999) (3/10/99) Check out this month's Environmental Health Perspectives.
Magnetic fields not a cancer promoter, study reports (3/10/99) A study in the March Environmental Health Perspectives reports that low-frequency magnetic fields did not act as a cancer promoter in mouse epidermal cells.
"Scientists Study Prehistoric Climate" (3/10/99) I'm confused. Is global warming going to cause sea levels to rise by 20 feet or are deserts going to spread?
"Cigar smoke has immediate effect on arteries" (3/10/99) I'm still scratching my head over the relevance of this little experiment to real life.
"Report says the more sex couples have, the younger they look" (3/10/99) "Couples who have sex at least three times a week appear to look more than a decade younger than the average adult, who has sex twice a week, The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday."
Society of Toxicology asks EPA to reassure public about pesticide safety (3/10/99) Here's the letter from the SOT to EPA administrator Carol Browner in PDF format.
TOP STORY: "Study finds little risks from PCBs" (3/10/99) "The largest ever study of occupational exposure to toxic PCB chemicals has found no significant increase in cancer deaths among workers who were exposed on the job."
"Smoking ban only way for King to follow through" (3/10/99) The Portland Press-Herald says banning smoking in restaurants "would save the lives of hundreds of Mainers each year." The editors must have missed this Washington Times editorial. E-mail a copy to the Press-Herald's editors.
"'Factory Farms' Must Obtain Pollution Permits" (3/10/99) "The American Farm Bureau, the largest U.S. farm group, said the government's real motive was to control land use and that manure was a proven problem in only 200 of the 3,000 counties nationwide."
"Studying cell phone safety" (3/10/99) The Cincinnati Post editorializes "There may in fact be a need for a law restricting the use of cell phones while operating a vehicle. But legislators should first examine the scope of the problem, and determine whether better enforcement of existing laws - or merely drawing more attention to the potential problem - might be adequate."
"Ozone savior: Research can save the planet" (3/10/99) We're still waiting for ozone depletion to be a proven phenomenon with measurable consequences.
"Cellulite "cure" questioned" (3/10/99) "The Harvard expert notes that cellulite is no different from any other type of fat in the body and the only way of losing fat is through a combination of diet and exercise. "
TOP STORY: Dietary fat-breast cancer study trashes meta-analysis (3/9/99) The Journal of the American Medical Association reports (Mar. 10) that reducing dietary fat intake does NOT lower breast cancer risk -- but that's not the big story!
"Montgomery County's junk science" (3/9/99) The Washington Times editorializes "When the Montgomery County Council gathers tonight to ban smoking in local restaurants, it will do so in the name of public health. 'Many say this will make us an island,' council member Philip Andrews, Democrat of Rockville, told The Washington Post. 'My take is that this makes us a leader in protecting public health.' Unfortunately, there is little if any science to back him up."
"Attack of the killer vegetables" (3/9/99) A Michael Fumento op-ed in the Washington Times.
TOP STORY: Jumping the gun on fen-phen? (3/9/99) A new study from Duke University reports that long-term fen-phen users (greater than 6 months) were about twice as likely as non-users to have mild heart valve damage -- hardly validating the great alarm with which the FDA forced fen-phen off the market in 1997. Click here for a related op-ed by Henry Miller and the Junkman from November 1997.
"Group Seeks Baby Teeth For Radiation Study" (3/9/99) Noted scientist-movie actor Alec Baldwin wants to use baby teeth in a quixotic effort to link cancer rates with nuclear power plants. Even the accidental release of radiation at Three Mile Island had no health impact. A federal judge recently trashed a related lawsuit on the basis that plaintiffs could not show that exposures from TMI were high enough to bring the case before a jury. P> "EPA probing purple pigs and stunted crops; A malady plagues some farms in western Montco and the mid-Atlantic region. More tests are planned. " (3/9/99) The deep-pockets in the area appears to be a local chemical plant.
"Light pollution" (3/9/99) USA Today reports "Legislatures in New Mexico and New Hampshire are considering shutting off lights at ballparks and recreational areas after 11 p.m. Texas, Michigan, Massachusetts and Wyoming are debating statewide crackdowns on outdoor lights that cast their beams up, rather than down."
"Scientists clash over tests on modified potatoes" (3/9/99) "Two scientists at the centre of the controversy over genetically modified food clashed last night over crucial statements issued about the results of experiments on rats fed on GM potatoes."
"Statistics inspire call for cell phone safety" (3/9/99) "Consumer safety advocate Ralph Hoar of Ralph Hoar & Associates, an automobile and product safety consulting firm in Arlington, Va., calls the studies 'junk science'..."
"'Road rage' deadlier in Utah than L.A.; Study says danger drops in states with more mass transit" (3/9/99) Click here for a Mike Fumento column on road rage. Click here for the Fresno Bee view.
"Detroit flubs toxic cleanup; Renewal hindered because city hasn't kept track of hundreds of polluted urban sites" (3/9/99) The Detroit News reports "Three years and $2.3 million after Mayor Dennis Archer created a special city department to clean and reuse vacant urban land, Detroit environmental officials don't know the number, size or location of hundreds of polluted sites."
"USA Today debate: Depleted marine life" (3/9/99) USA Today says commercial interests are interfering with fish conservation efforts. The opposing view says criticism of federal efforts to rebuild and sustain the nation's marine fisheries misses the point.
"Mom was right -- brown bread is good for you, study says" (3/9/99) A study in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health reports older women who eat more food consisting of whole grains, such as dark bread, may live longer than women who eat less.
"White House Targets Farm Pollution" (3/9/99) Since we're worried about manure, how will these regulations affect White House operations?
"Hitting a Pillow Can Just Make You Angrier, Study Finds " (3/9/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "The new study confirms some prior research and suggests that there are better ways to deal with anger, although the researchers do not reveal what those better ways might be."
"Women 'emotionally addicted to smoking'" (3/8/99) The BBC reports "Women are more emotionally dependent on cigarettes than men, according to a report commissioned for No Smoking Day on Wednesday."
"Breast implants withdrawn" (3/8/99) The BBC reports "The Government has withdrawn a type of breast implant which has a filling derived from soyabean oil amid fears that it could damage health."
"Money + Science = Ethics Problems on Campus" (3/8/99) This article in The Nation says private money causes ethics problems on universities. Public money doesn't? EPA grants come with plenty of expectations.
"IPCC to Raise Warming Forecast, Exclude U.S. Model?" (3/8/99) From the World Climate Report: "A scientific firestorm is brewing among a few pretty distinguished dissenters and a lot of disenfranchised modelers amid rumors of major revisions to the United Nations' position on climate change. With its next report due out two years hence, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reportedly plans to raise the estimate of 21st-century warming. To support this forecast, they will restrict the number of climate models cited to a very small group-somewhere around three."
"All Weather Leads to Global Warming" (3/8/99) From the World Climate Report: "The biggest current climate news story most of you still havenít heard is that Europe and Asia remain crystallized in a very cold, very snowy winter. The cold and the snow are so bad that, yes, they have been blamed on global warming."
"Executive intelligence" (3/8/99) The CIA has identified global warming as a "strategic threat." But which worries you more: a) A bankrupt country, unable to pay its military, with 10,000 nuclear weapons, deliverable in less than a half-hour, or b) a global temperature change of about 1.5įC, mainly in Siberia in the dead of winter?
Killer vacuums? (3/8/99) Thanks to the EPA, the vacuum cleaner business has turned cutthroat.
Al Gore: The Traffic Jam President? (3/8/99) George Bush wanted to be the "environment president." Now, Al Gore wants to end rush-hour as we know it. Click here for the response from Citizens Against Government Waste.
$333,333 per fish? (3/8/99) And they laughed about the federal government spending $600 per toilet seat.
USA Today debate: Class action lawsuits (3/8/99) Click here for the view that the recent air bag verdict penalizes efforts to make products safer. Click here for the view that there is no excuse for anyone suffering even the slightest injury and evil corporions must pay regardless of the facts and circumstances.
FASEB comments on the data access law (3/8/99) At least FASEB's president understands the need for replication and validation of scientific results. Otherwise, his letter shows thinking corrupted by the U.S. science establishment that wants to shield federally-funded science used to set federal policy and rules from taxpayer scrutiny. Fight secret science.
"Behavior of World's Glaciers Fails to Prove Global Warming Theory" (3/8/99) "Global warming theorists argue that examples of receding glaciers, primarily those located in the mid-latitude regions of the planet, provide evidence that climate change caused by human activities is underway. But glaciers are poor barometers of global climate change."
"Study fails to smash value of at-home mom" (3/8/99) Tony Snow writes in the Detroit News, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder only in cases of newborn love and ancient hatred - not in relations between parents and children. Kids need something only parents can supply: unconditional love. Parents need something only kids can impose: perspective."
"F.D.A. Revising Guidelines on Antibiotics for Animals" (3/8/99) At a meeting held by the F.D.A. in late January to discuss the proposed changes, Dr. Brendan Fox, president of Elanco Animal Health, a division of the pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Co., said, "We believe the agency is greatly overstating the conclusiveness and the implications of the data and has put forth a seriously flawed proposal."
"EPA wants to ferret out hidden toxins" (3/8/99) "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing something that might seem downright paradoxical: that plants such as Bethlehem's estimate how much of these pollutants they emit, even if they can't accurately measure them."
"Toxic gas at Ft. Leonard Wood pleases many" (3/8/99) But not the enviros, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
"Navy halts sludge dumping near wildlife preserve" (3/8/99) But the San Francisco Chronicle reports, "... there is no evidence that the sludge is laced with hazardous materials."
"More than 10% of health-care workers allergic to latex" (3/8/99) "The illness affects roughly 3 percent of the general population, and since the late 1980s, at least 30 people have died from latex-related illnesses, experts on the allergy say. The number is small compared with, for example, allergic reactions to penicillin, which cause 400 to 800 deaths a year."
"Environmental groups sue to force 'critical habitat' designations" (3/8/99) The kangaroo rat is back in the news.
"'Big fat F' on pipeline safety; NTSB chief calls US lax in dealing with spills, leaks" (3/8/99) The Boston Globe reports, "While the United States has taken strides in reducing tanker spills since the Exxon Valdez accident of 10 years ago, the country has made less progress against other dangerous spills, especially pipeline leaks. Nearly 8 million gallons of hazardous liquids escaped US pipelines in 1998, the most since 1991."
"Natural-Gas Daring Deserves Better" (3/8/99) Let's see if I have this straight; I'm supposed to be excited about natural gas powered vehicles because they cost substantially more and get fewer miles per gallon -- if you can even find a gas station that sells natural gas?
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: Tree-hugging at the Washington Post (3/7/99) About the $500 million purchase of 10,000 acres of California redwoods, the Washington Post editorializes, "it is hard to imagine a worthier expenditure of public funds." Only a boneheaded enviro could say something so absurd. Just this week the Institute of Medicine released its report on environmental justice. Although no link could be found between the environment and adverse health effects in minority communities, the report did point out that "individuals with family incomes above $25,000 can live from 3 to 7 years longer than those with family incomes below $10,000." At a measly 5 percent annual interest rate, $500 million would support 1,000 families at the magical $25,000 level indefinitely. Public funds should be spent on people first, not trees. Let the Ted Turners, Ted Kennedys and Ted Dansons ofthe world spend their own cash to save trees. Send your thoughts to the Washington Post.
"Cleaner air but dirtier fuel" (3/7/99) Contrary to this Boston Globe editorial, MTBE is no health hazard.
"Awareness builds case for mercury legislation" (3/7/99) So editorializes the Portland Press-Herald. I guess the editors missed this August 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association study.
"Where Cheap Gas Takes Us: More Smog Ahead If We Don't Stop Guzzling" (3/7/99) "Did you know... that a Dodge Durango burns about twice as much gas as a Nissan Sentra?" Who says Washington Post opinion pieces aren't informative?
"Whose air is this, anyway?" (3/7/99) "Iron County has a swath of the Ozarks, Missouri's highest mountains, and a little-known distinction: In 1995, Iron County became the first locale in America where federal highway money was frozen in a clean-air dispute."
"Monsanto could face censure in England over ad campaign" (3/7/99) "Monsanto Co. could face censure for an advertising campaign that critics claim misled the British public about the safety of genetically modified food, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said Monday."
"Cancer rates in Marshall Islands reach 'extreme' levels, study says " (3/7/99) "Westernization of the Marshall Islands brought social problems associated with urbanization and breakdown of indigenous cultural values."
"The First Family's Asthma Problems" (3/7/99) CEI's Ben Lieberman writes, "Both Bill and Hillary Clinton are taking actions that will affect the nation's six million asthmatic children. Unfortunately, Hillaryís new $68 million dollar program to fight childhood asthma probably won't do much good. Worse yet, husband Billís multi-billion dollar global warming agenda could actually harm the nation's young asthmatics."
"Study Blames SUVs, Pickups and Vans 2,000 extra deaths in 1996, regulators say" (3/6/99) Do not ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for SUVs.
"U-Mís Heavy Hitters " (3/6/99) The Detroit News editorializes about, "A study by 'social scientists' awaiting publication in a prestigious psychology journal reports that conservative viewpoints, particularly the Protestant ethic, are to blame for low self-esteem among overweight women."
"White Teeth Or Red Scare? Santa Cruz anti-fluoride vote reminiscent of anti-Communists" (3/6/99) The San Francisco Chronicle reports, "Fluoridated water, once seen as a Communist conspiracy to ruin America, is now a no-no in what many view as the closest thing America has to a lefty, pinko enclave: Santa Cruz."
"Public Health Director Lambastes CDC Report " (3/6/99) "Brunner said the CDC is 'almost desperate' to show a Bay Area breast cancer rate lower than the national average, when in fact the rate has risen by 25 percent over the past 15 years."
"EPA Stops Burning Toxic Chemicals at Cleanup Site" (3/6/99) The Los Angeles Times reports, "In response to complaints from neighbors, the Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it has stopped using an incinerator to clean up a former chemical mixing plant that has become a Superfund site... [even though]... The toxic levels did not pose a threat, officials said."
"Toward environmental justice" (3/6/99) Here's the new National Academy of Sciences report that says we should take environmental justice seriously even though there are no facts to support it.
"Cars, cholera and cows: The Management of Risk and Uncertainty" (3/6/99) John Adams examines "the cultural filters through which people view virtual risks and describes some of the longstanding debates about virtual risks that arise because of those filters. Understanding our ignorance of the risks and filters is a precondition for civilized debate about virtual risks."
"Victory in the war on tobacco?; Higher Taxes Cut Sales, But Teens Still Smoke" (3/6/99) "'Throughout the 1990s, teen- age smoking was going up while we were trying all kinds of policies to make it go down,' Kenkel said. 'It suggests we don't know very much about how to do that.'"
"The Week That Was February 22-28, 1999" (3/6/99) The weekly round-up from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
National Science Foundation chief supports 'secret science' (3/5/99) Science reports (Mar. 5) that Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation, opposes the new data access law. Although the law is tailored so that researchers would only have to disclose federally-funded data used to support federal policy or rules, Colwell opposes the rule,"No matter how narrowly drawn." In a Feb. 22 letter to OMB, Colwell wrote the rule "will likely harm the process of research in all fields." Colwell urged the White House to get behind a bill introduced by Rep. George Brown (D-Junk Science) that would repeal the law. E-mail Colwell that we have the right to know the information on which we are regulated. This still is America. Don't forget to enter the "Secret Science" Sweepstakes.
Endocrine disrupters found in hog manure (3/5/99) The Endocrine/Estrogen Letter reports (Mar. 3) that, according to Canadian government scientists, waste from hog farms may contain so-called "endocrine disrupters." In Canada, hog-generated waste is disposed of as manure for field crops. Click here< /a> for more info.
"N.J. database shows cancer on decline" (3/5/99) The Bergen County Record reports "Experts in cancer treatment and research were thrilled with the information." Given New Jersey's reputation as the "toxic waste site" state, there was no word on whether environmentalists are throwing themselves in front of 18-wheelers on the Turnpike.
"Sport-Utility Vehicles to Wear Warning" (3/5/99) The federal government tries to scare people from making SUVs the family car.
TOP STORY: NAS report on 'environmental justice' a crock (3/5/99) A new Instititute of Medicine report says "research so far has not generally been able to tie the health problems of minority and poor communities to environmental stressors such as chemicals, noise, or air pollutants,..." and "residents of these communities... may be more vulnerable to health problems because of poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and other factors," yet "Researchers should acknowledge that environmental justice is a legitimate field of study..." What?
"Louisiana official calls Greenpeace's bluff, eats 'toxic' fish delivered by environmentalists" (3/5/99) "Greenpeace activists thought they were going to make a point Thursday by delivering Gov. Mike Foster a free lunch of fish from a Louisiana bayou they said is polluted. But Foster's press secretary called their bluff - with television cameras rolling, she pulled out a fork and ate it."
"Shrinkage Detected In Greenland's Ice: Other Studies Find Different Results" (3/5/99) "But Krabill and others cautioned that the new findings cannot be construed as evidence of the effects of global warming. Nor do they pose a threat to world sea levels."
"Hot Year Was Killer For Coral: Loss in Some Areas Exceeds 70 Percent" (3/5/99) "Other scientists, however, say they aren't convinced of a link to global warming, especially because the ocean warming pattern doesn't match climate forecasting models."
"Keep Testing Those Air Bags" (3/5/99) And then give people the option of whether to use them or not.
"The lesson from Lake Apopka" (3/5/99) Organic farming is the lesson? I'll take my chances with produce grown with chemicals rather than cow manure.
"Tosco refinery explosion: One lesson -- California workers need more protection" (3/5/99) The Sacramento Bee would punish everyone with more regulation because of one bad actor. Click here< /a> for a smarter editorial by the San Francisco Examiner.
"The environmental forecast; The Florida Forever conservation land-buying program tops the agenda this year. " (3/5/99) The St. Petersburg Times says "The cast of political characters for the 1999 legislative session is enough to make Florida environmentalists wilt like sunburned ferns on a hot day... To be fair, Florida environmentalists always say the sky is falling before every legislative session."
"The Heart of New York" (3/5/99) In the wake of new study reporting New Yorkers have more heart attacks, the New York Post asks, "Is living in Montana really living?"
"Asia Pollution Reaches West Coast" (3/5/99) I don't know that I'd call these low-levels "pollution."
"Put public health before meat industry concerns" (3/5/99) This Detroit Free Press editorial calls for the posting of recall notices in supermarkets and restaurants. This would only make sense if there was a way to ensure the postings didn't launch unwarranted hysteria that harms industry in the short-term, but consumers in the long-term.
"Turning the tide to save Bay and Delta" (3/5/99) The executive director of Save the Bay writes in the San Francisco Examiner, "As Gov. Gray Davis and the Legislature develop their environmental agenda, protecting and restoring the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta should be a priority." I hope he means a priority for California taxpayers.
"Saving redwoods: A significant agreement in California" (3/5/99) A New Jersey newspaper cheers the spending of hundreds of millions of federal dollars to preserve trees in California that most New Jerseyeans will never see.
"When Science Serves Politics" (3/5/99) "For the child packed into her car seat every morning, the recent headlined study on working mothers may have a life-changing impact. Sadly, this study has gotten plenty of attention but little cautious analysis."
"Scientists cut their mobile phone use" (3/4/99) "The National Radiological Protection Board said the international consensus was that there was 'no demonstrable evidence of a health risk' from mobile phones."
"Ozone hole recovery slows" (3/4/99) What is there to say when emissions of an "ozone depleter" have been significantly underestimated but the supposed horrors of ozone depletion have yet to show up anywhere?
The problem with Superfund... (3/4/99) is the EPA's ability to spend other people's money without accountability. Here, an EPA Superfund project manager says of parties who may have to pay for a multimillion dollar cleanup, "We will invite them to participate when all the remedies are chosen."
"Wheat group touts grains as diet foundation" (3/4/99) Damage control from the recent study reporting that high dietary fiber consumption did not reduce colon cancer risk?
"Clinton wants $1 billion program to save treasured lands, open spaces" (3/4/99) Let Clinton ask billionaire Ted Turner -- or Clinton's rich Hollywood buddies -- and leave the poor taxpayers alone.
"Toxic Soil at Giants' Ballpark Site " (3/4/99) "The state standard for soluble lead concentration in soil is 1.5 milligrams per liter. The federal standard is 5.0 milligrams per liter. The soil tested at the stadium site is 2.785 milligrams per liter."
Seveso update shows dioxin cleanup a success (3/4/99) The site of the 1976 industrial explosion resulting in a high level of dioxin contamination in Seveso, Italy was turned into a park. After 22 years, the wildlife living there appear to be normal.
Society of Toxicology concerned about chemophobia (3/4/99) The leadership of the Society of Toxicology shows the level of concern is building within the scientific community with regard to the need to counter chemophobia.
"Take health news with a grain of salt" (3/4/99) From the Houston Chronicle.
"Keep waging nuke waste battle" (3/4/99) Nuke waste should be stored where it's generated. Local storage can be safe, the only obstacle being irrational local fear.
"Kyoto lobby kills small businesses" (3/4/99) Marlo Lewis writes in the Washington Times, "Credit for early action - a policy proposal developed by the Environmental Defense Fund, warmly embraced by the Clinton-Gore administration, and championed by Rhode Island Republican Senator John Chafee, - is the latest ploy in the Kyoto lobby's strategy to divide and conquer the American business community."
"Pesticides & Food Additives Overrated Health Scares, States Former Harvard Epidemiology Chair" (3/4/99) "Dimitrios Trichopoulos, M.D., Ph.D, notes in the current (March) issue of New Choices: Living Even Better After 50, that if pesticides were as scary as some headlines proclaim, risk experts say that stomach cancer rates would be soaring when, in fact, they have been falling."
"Regulatory Excursions" (3/4/99) The Detroit News editorializes, "Environmentalists are fuming over the Excursion, Ford Motor Co.ís newest -- and biggest -- sport-utility vehicle. Its meager gas mileage insults the very concept of fuel economy standards. But the stunning popularity of sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and trucks exposes these regulations as hopelessly misguided."
"Killing Jobs in Genesee" (3/4/99) The Detroit News editorializes, "The unrelenting crusade of environmental activists to drive a $175 million steel mill out of Genesee County may yet bear fruit: Select Steel, the company proposing to build the mill, announced earlier this week that it is considering Lansing as an alternative site -- possibly taking away 200 potential jobs from a community still reeling from the recent closing of GM facilities."
"Beware grafting environmental ideology on to orthodox faith " (3/4/99) "Vice-President Al Gore says he wants to federalize land-use restrictions in the name of eliminating so-called suburban sprawl. This word "sprawl" is curious. It increasingly seems to be invoked against patterns of development that are a benefit to people and businesses. If developers are prevented from building and businesses are prohibited from expanding, economic progress for everyone is blocked."
"New York is home of the heart attack, study shows" (3/4/99) Maybe this study will get Mayor Giuliani intersted in junk science -- I love New York, but not simple statistical correlations.
"Volunteering may be good for you" (3/4/99) I'd bet the true relationship is better health allows mores volunteering rather than volunteering causes better health.
"1990s hottest decade of millennium, report shows" (3/4/99) The publisher of this report -- the American Geophysical Union -- jut recently announced that global warming was its official policy. Cause-and-effect?
"Asia's Toxic Formula for Waste" (3/4/99) "The president of Formosa Plastics Corp...claims that the fault lies with his nation's environmentally militant citizens. They forced the company to remove the waste, which he maintains is harmless, from a landfill in southern Taiwan where it had been legally placed after undergoing processing to reduce the danger of mercury poisoning."
"Texas Offers to Take In Doomed Beavers" (3/4/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "[California] state wildlife officials Wednesday said they were weighing an offer by a Texas animal sanctuary to take the rodents so they won't be killed by marksmen for destroying a bird habitat."
"Such a pain in the brain debate about cell phones' link to tumours rages on" (3/3/99) The Toronto Star reports, "Officially, there is no link between cell phones and brain tumours. Unofficially, it ranks as the next biggest conspiracy next to who really shot JFK and, more recently, whether Princess Di was assassinated by the British Secret Service."
"Cold facts of global warming" (3/3/99) "A professor of geography at Edinburgh University, he believes he has proof that the Antarctic has long been in deep freeze, implying that the Earth's climate as a whole is far more resilient than had been thought. Reports of catastrophic effects to come from global warming may well be exaggerated, he says.u"
"Ban sunbeds to cut dangers of cancer, urges skin expert" (3/3/99) "... between 50 and 60 per cent of people who used them once or twice a week for four years would develop pre-cancerous cells that could eventually lead to cancer."
"Saying no to new toxicity tests on animals" (3/3/99) The folks at PCRM are crackpots, but at least they identified this gem, supposedly from an EPA official: "If saving one eagle means killing a million lab rats, so be it."
Waxman report on airborne carcinogens in Los Angeles (3/3/99)Click here for the HTML version. Click here for the PDF version. The HTML version contains a systematic error -- units that should be stated in micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) are stated as grams per cubic meter (g/m3).
"Eat Apples -- Give Up Junk Food and Junk Science" (3/3/99) Carl K. Winter writes in the San Francisco Chronicle, "Parents should feel proud, rather than guilty, of providing fruits and vegetables for their children. It is well established that a diet rich in such foods decreases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Such benefits dramatically overwhelm the theoretical risks of tiny amounts of pesticides in food."
"Killer Regulations" (3/3/99) The Detroit News editorializes, "Auto safety regulators this week released new analyses of crash data purportedly showing that light trucks and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) pose a deadly threat. The regulators may order manufacturers to redesign the vehicles. But any new requirements would only perpetuate the regulatory blunders that put vehicle occupants most at risk."
"Global Warming's Shaky Foundation" (3/3/99) Investor's Business Daily editorializes, "Unfavorable news about global warming just keeps raining down on the Clinton administration. No one from Vice President Al Gore's team pushing the issue will let on that they might be all wet. So we will."
"The risky nature of organics: Growing Produce In Manure Raises Concerns" (3/3/99) "Organic is now obviously the deadly choice in food," said Dennis Avery, director of global food issues at the Hudson Institute.
"A thank you for pharmaceuticals" (3/3/99) The New York Post editorializes, "Pharmaceutical companies do the overwhelming majority of drug research in this country. They have done wonders - literal wonders - for people. They should be celebrated, not demonized. And the doctors and scientists who help them deserve a lot of credit too."
"Fierce MTBE opposition builds case for auto tests" (3/3/99) Contrary to this Portland Press-Herald editorial, MTBE is not carcinogenic.
"City is pushing to keep air clean" (3/3/99) Looks like the real problem in San Antonio, TX is the EPA and its ability to punish localities, not Exxon.
"Safer food through basic hygiene" (3/3/99) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says " It is a sad fact that more than 70 percent of diners don't wash their hands after using a restroom." How about the Federal Restaurant Diner Hand-Washing Act as Bill Clinton's next legislative initiative? Undercover police posing as diners could randomly check restaurant patrons as they exit restrooms and give citations to those with unusually dry hands? Perhaps maitre d's and hostesses could be deputized?
"Altered foods won't harm us" (3/3/99) "The sight of the British press in a fit of moral panic is rarely edifying. But last week, with headlines about "Frankenstein foods" gracing the front pages of even supposedly highbrow newspapers, the country witnessed a particularly dispiriting example."
"Killer tomatoes?" (3/3/99) From the Friends of Darkness.
"Montgomery Council Passes Smoking Ban" (3/3/99) I'm embarrassed to live in this county. The Iron Curtain didn't fall; it just moved west.
"Keeping Redwoods for the Ages" (3/3/99) What an accomplishment -- we've made rich, white people even happier. Couldn't urban mayors do something a little more practical with $480 million of taxpayers cash? If the enviros want Redwoods, get the multibillion dollar-endowed Pew Charitable Trusts to buy the land -- or is enviro-cash only to be used for the anti-chemical-global warming agenda? Send your comments to the Los Angeles Times.
"Last-Minute Deal Reached on Headwaters" (3/3/99) "In a dramatic, last-minute reversal, the Pacific Lumber Co. agreed to a $480-million deal to save California's Headwaters Forest after government officials substantially raised their estimates of the amount of timber that the company would be allowed to cut."
Dick Morris advises Al Gore on global warming as 2000 campaign strategy (3/2/99)In today's New York Post, former Clinton adviser Dick Morris writes, "Of course Gore can't dump on Clinton, but he should distinguish himself by returning to his original theme of the environment and global climate changes. Recent weird weather throughout the world makes his gloomy predictions seem more appropriate than they have ever been. By talking about his old passion, he will develop a welcome animation and remind voters of his life before Clinton. In 1968, Nixon harnessed each day's crime headlines to make law and order the basis of his national agenda. In 2000, Gore must use the fires in Florida, the mudslides in California, the floods in Texas, and the droughts in the Mid-west to show Americans the pressing necessity of action in the face of global warming. Global climate is changing. If the consequences of this shift are as dire as predicted, the environment will become the issue of the next decade. With the millennium, voters are in a mood to think in planetary terms and Gore could be just the man to make the issue work."
"Car fumes make Los Angeles the cancer capital" (3/2/99) Nice headline.
"Smoking, Guns and Personal Choice" (3/2/99) A liberal Northeasterner writes in the Christian Science Monitor, "Grabbing for the big bucks by suing the manufacturer of a product, any product, seems to me like passing the buck. Where does a company's responsibility end and our own responsibility begin?"
"Whatever happened to global warming?" (3/2/99) Don't be fooled. The global warming agenda is slowly, but surely being implemented.
TOP STORY: Ben & Jerry's dioxin marketing goof (3/2/99) Their ice cream is excellent. Their marketing is ridiculous. Ben & Jerry's is touting its new "Eco-Pint" container made from unbleached paper -- i.e, it contains no dioxin. Ben & Jerry's says "The only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure at all." The irony is that dioxin is IN the ice cream itself. Dioxin is everywhere, including milk. It's no wonder Ben & Jerry's screwed up; they got their facts from Greenpeace. So listen to Ben & Jerry's and be safe; eat the carton, not the ice cream.
TOP STORY: Cell phone researcher's memory problems caused by death threat, not cell phones? (3/2/99) Colin Blakemore, a highly respected physiology prof at Oxford University, claims in an upcoming study that cellphones can cause short-term memory loss in humans. He claims to have seen it in himself. But Blakemore is also on a top-10 murder hit list drawn up by the Animal Rights Militia. That kind of stress could make anyone forget a few things?
"Danger in the Air" (3/2/99) While there is nothing wrong with wanting to reduce air pollution, there certainly is something wrong with lying about the science. Air pollution and cancer? If it's such a big risk, show me the bodies.
"Find a middle course on federally funded research data" (3/2/99) The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reprints the nonsensical Los Angeles Times editorial about the data access law. Click here for my comments. Send yours to the Star-Tribune.
"Suits Targeting Gun Makers Are Off the Mark" (3/2/99) John R. Lott, Jr. writes in the Wall Street Journal, "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms recently released a report asserting that, more often than not, the guns used in crimes are purchased, not stolen. This finding received uncritical coverage on all the major television networks and newspapers."
"Irrational fear of guns fueled a bad jury decision" (3/2/99) Marianne M. Jennings writes in the Deseret News, "Gun phobics with irrational fear should be handled as children who see closet monsters: talk with them, leave a night light on, and wait for them to outgrow the panic. But, you must keep them from acting upon their irrational fears for the result is irrational conduct."
"Toughen EPA's anti-pollution proposal" (3/2/99) Mmembers of USPIRG and Physicians for Social Responsibility gang up on dioxin and mercury emissions. Send your more rational comments to theDeseret News.
"Joint Water Cleanup Plan Offered" (3/2/99) Before spending $100 million to remove perchlorate from ground water in California, it would be helpful to know what the actual health risks are, not merely what happens when animals/people are poisoned with perchlorate.
"Endangered Birds Have Priority Over Beavers, Judge Rules" (3/2/99) The Los Angeles Times reports, "A Superior Court judge on Monday rejected a request by animal welfare activists that no beavers be killed along Lake Skinner, where they are ruining the habitat of two endangered species of songbirds. The birds' survival is more important than the beavers', Judge Gloria Connor Trask ruled.
"Pediatric Group Dismisses Need for Circumcision" (3/2/99) "It's three- to tenfold more likely for someone uncircumcised to have a urinary tract infection in the first year of life. But it's still rare," said Dr. Alan R. Fleischman, a task force member and senior vice president of the New York Academy of Medicine."
"Census Bureau's poor decision" (3/2/99) "Foolishly, the Census Bureau is planning to go ahead with two types of counts for the 2000 Census. Despite the fact the Supreme Court has rejected the Clinton administration's effort to employ statistical sampling to determine the number of congressional representatives from each state, the Census Bureau is going to use that method anyway."
"Gas additive debated from Tahoe to Maine" (3/1/99) "The makers of MTBE say their product is a victim of hysteria, such as irresponsible claims that the chemical causes cancer when the evidence is limited to questionable animal studies. Reports that MTBE fumes cause nausea or other symptoms have not panned out in large-scale studies, they add."
"Cellphone fears hit close to home" (3/1/99) "The emissions are very small but the theory is they can distort the delicate synaptic activity in the brain."
"Save plastic IV-bags so they can save you" (3/1/99) My op-ed in today's Washington Times.
"Cancer Risk From Air Pollution Still High, Study Says" (3/1/99) Such estimates of hypothetical risk have yet to pan out into actual cancers.
"Scientists Challenge the Provision Opening Access to Research Data" (3/1/99) Federal scientists want to "take the money and run." Fight "secret science."
"A New Federal Mandate: Don't Work Too Hard" (3/1/99) Eugene Scalia writes in the Wall Street Journal, "Even OSHA's research arm -- the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health -- concedes that the cause of back pain rarely can be identified. OSHA lost one high-profile case when the judge found "no reliable epidemiological evidence establishing lifting as a cause" of low back pain."
"Invasion of Fire Ants Poses New Threat to Area Wildlife" (3/1/99) Fire ants advance while California bureaucrats wring their hands over pesticide use.
"Restaurant smoking ban makes sense for state" (3/1/99) If you're familiar with Michael Siegel's junk science about secondhand smoke and restaurant workers, e-mail your comments to the Portland Press-Herald.
"A sensible cut" (3/1/99) I must not get it. As long as they are planted, trees grow back. And hybrid trees have been developed to grow real fast. What's wrong with new growth? Doesn't it remove the dreaded carbon dioxide from the atmosphere?
"Studies Widen Role of Germs in Disease" (3/1/99) From the Washington Post, "From gallstones to arthritis to heart disease, many illnesses long presumed to have roots in genes or lifestyle may be caused largely by infectious agents, a growing number of scientists believe."
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