May 1998

Danger on the Backyard Trampoline (5/31/98) Trampoline hysteria is gaining momentum. Trampoline injuries have increased almost 100 percent from 5 years ago. But trampoline sales have increased 500 percent over the same time period. More injuries, but far more use. So what's all the jumping up and down about? Kids should be supervised on tramps. But banning them? I don't think so.

EPA In Quandary Over State Boundary Lines for Ozone (5/31/98) "The EPA has a big ozone transport problem, thanks to Pennsylvania. The Keystone State wants EPA to control upwind NOx even though the agency has no plan to do so.

Models Are Crude Tools for Making Policy (5/31/98) "Computer models are starting to play an alarming role in electric power policy--one that could inappropriately determine the future of the industry."

Stop Smoking So You Can Buy Drugs (5/31/98) In conjunction with World "No Tobacco Day," the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health launched the Johns Hopkins Institute for Global Tobacco Control. The Institute is funded by none other than SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare, the world's leading marketer of smoking cessation products, i.e., Nicoderm, Nicorette, etc. Is this public health or marketing?

China Signs Kyoto Accord (5/31/98) China took a break from buying U.S. missile technology and contributing to the Democratic National Committee to become the 37th country to sign the international treaty to reduce "greenhouse" gas emissions. While China continues to reject democracy, it embraces totalitarianism in all forms, including the Kyoto Accord.

Coffee and Colorectal Cancer (5/30/98) A meta-analysis of 12 case-control and 5 cohort studies of coffee consumption and colorectal cancer reports that higher coffee consumption is weakly associated with less colorectal cancer. The researchers speculate this could be due either to coffee avoidance by those at high risk of colorectal cancer, or coffee's antimutagenic components and enhanced colonic motility induced by coffee. I don't think a meta-analysis of case-control studies (particularly one paid for by the National Coffee Association) proves that coffee reduces cancer risk. But I do think we can conclude that coffee doesn't increase the risk of colorectal cancer. [Source: American Journal of Epidemiology (June 1, 1998)].

Puppy Scare (5/29/98) Beware of "deadly parasites lurking in the faeces."

USGS Responds to Amphibian Declines with Program in Great Smokey Mountains National Park (5/29/98) Can they really "inventory" amphibians? It's not like counting boxes of cereal in the grocery store.

SEPP Comments to New York Times' Catalytic Converter Story (5/29/98) Comments from the Science and Environmental Policy Project on the New York Times' catalytic conveter story.

Obesity hard to treat, experts say (5/29/98) These researchers recommend that you lose vacation days if you're overweight.

Viagra blamed in $2 million divorce suit (5/29/98) A lawyer who appears on Howard Stern's radio program sues Pfizer on behalf of a woman claiming Viagra broke-up her common-law marriage.

Tobacco tax bill a bundle of ironies (5/29/98) Was airline air better back when smoking was allowed on planes?

EPA Sued Over Phosphoric Acid (5/29/98) The Fertilizer Institute sued EPA for the agency's failure to remove phosphoric acid from the Toxics Release Inventory. EPA refused to delist the chemical from the TRI because of concerns that phosphoric acid contributes to eutrophication of waterways. Eutrophication is a natural process where waterways are enriched with nutrients causing, under certain circumstances, excessive algae growth which eventually results in reduced dissolved oxygen content and adverse effects on aquatic life. But EPA still can't point to a single example where industrial discharges of phosphoric acid have contributed to eutrophication. To the extent eutrophication is occurring, less than one percent of phosphorus discharges to waterways are from industry. Meanwhile, phosphoric acid, a chemical present in every can of Coca-Cola, is listed as a "toxic" substance.

A Temporary Solution to a Temporary Problem? (5/29/98) An article in Science (May 29, 1998) by something called the Terrestrial Carbon Working Group of the Stockholm-based International Geosphere-Biosphere Program reports that terrestrial sinks for greenhouse gases are only temporary reservoirs that can buy only up to a century's worth of time for countries to reduce emissions. But with Clinton selling the Chinese advanced missile technology, and India and Pakistan preparing for nuclear armageddon, will we even be around 100 years from now?

EPA Says Catalytic Converter Is Growing Cause of Global Warming (5/29/98) An example of how junk science can get you tied up in knots.

America's Worst Judges (5/29/98) "This state judge in tiny Decatur, Texas, presided over a 1995 trial in which a group of local plaintiffs claimed an out-of-town natural gas company had made their water smell like rotten eggs. The jury awarded a staggering $204 million, an amount the judge upheld even though there were no claims of serious injury."

Study finds left-handers don't die earlier (5/29/98) To lefties: you can stop the countdown.

Pfizer Tries to Allay Concerns Over Deaths of Six Viagra Users (5/29/98) "Pfizer Inc., seeking to allay concerns about its blockbuster impotence medication Viagra, said the deaths of six men taking the drug resulted from known risks of increased cardiac stress related to sex or of combining the drug with nitrate medications."

EPA Ignored Race Report (5/28/98) The EPA ignored some of its own ethnic population studies in pushing to link environmentalism and racial discrimination, internal documents show. The documents, obtained by The Detroit News, concluded that whites were more likely than blacks to live around highly polluted sites on the nation's "Superfund" priority cleanup list.

New insight into Gulf War Syndrome? (5/28/98) "Some behaviors the researchers saw in all the mice resembled clinical symptoms like depression and impaired thinking that some people develop after a major stress." Huh?

Oregon company hit with largest penalty ever under Clean Air Act (5/28/98) While this corporation may have gotten what it deserved, why punish the rest of us by forcing the corporation to donate $500,000 to environmental groups?

Madeleine Jacobs Should Go (5/28/98) It's time for American Chemical Society members to get rid of the editor of Chemical and Engineering News.

Study Says EPA Overestimated Asbestos Risk (5/28/98) A post mortem on chrysotile asbestos reveals EPA may have overestimated cancer risks by at least a factor of 10. Quel surprise! Click here for the Washington Post coverage. Click here for the study abstract. Click here for an opposing editorial by EPA-apologist and environmental hysteric Philip Landrigan.

Farm Runoff and Pfiesteria (5/28/98) "To date, no link has been demonstrated between outbreaks of Pfiesteria and nutrient levels or farm practices."

Viagra in Vietnam (5/28/98) "[The] warning label states that people on certain types of heart medication should not take this drug, which works by increasing blood flow." Yeah, but does it say it Vietnamese?

Fen-Phen valve problems rare (5/27/98) While it's still too early to say "I told you so," be prepared.

Breast cancer drugs hold out hope -- but not certainty (5/27/98) Here's an op-ed by the Junkman published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Opposing Groups Offer Sincerity Test on Tobacco Tax (5/27/98) The Competitive Enterprise Institute and American Council on Science and Health fund common ground on the tobacco issue.

The Week That Was May 18 - May 24, 1998 (5/27/98) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Rebutting the new glacier research (5/27/98) By the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Norway's glaciers growing at record pace (5/27/98) According to the Science and Environmental Policy Project, "[Although] the reporter assumes a global warming effect based upon an averaging of glacial recession over the last century, the behavior of Norway's glaciers is in keeping with the World Glacier Monitoring Service 1989 report in Science magazine, which showed 55 percent of mountain glaciers in Europe and the United States advancing after 1980."

Prenatal care rising, but results raise more questions (5/27/98) So will the government start suing doctors to end a practice that "causes" low birth weight?

Viagra Banned in Ho Chi Minh City (5/27/98) Pending a Ministry of Health review of its safety, the impotence drug Viagra is history in the city formerly known as Saigon. The ban is based on news of six deaths in the U.S. among Viagra users. If only democracy could be exported as easily as hysteria.

Merck Looks to Cash in at Our Expense (5/27/98) Do you want to pay higher insurance rates so that your neighbor with a borderline high cholesterol level can sit around, watch TV and get fat?

Federal Agencies to Launch Air Pollution Ad Campaign (5/27/98) The EPA, Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration are set to spend $3.2 million on a print and broadcast campaign to teach people in San Francisco, Milwaukee and Dover, Delaware that cars pollute. The effectiveness of the campaign will be evaluated when a random sample of people in targeted areas are tested on their knowledge of the link between transportation choices and the environment. If "successful," the campaign will be expanded to 25 cities in May 1999. The ads will urge that people take one less car trip a day. Does that mean if I drive to work, I can't drive home? [Source: Daily Environment Report (May 27, 1998)].

NRDC `Predicts' Legal problems for EPA's Chloroform Drinking Water Proposal (5/27/98) NRDC is apparently set to sue EPA for proposing to change the regulatory goal for chloroform in drinking water from zero to 0.3 milligrams per liter. Chloroform is a by-product of chlorinating drinking water. An expert panel convened by EPA to examine the chloroform data strongly endorsed the non-zero goal. I guess NRDC thinks its lawyers will set a better standard than the scientists. [Source: Daily Environment Report (May 27, 1998)].

How Tough on Pesticides? (5/27/98) The Washington Post editorializes that "Pesticide policy in this country is founded on a contradiction. The government says simultaneously that pesticide residues are dangerous and the food supply is safe. The contradiction has helped produce a 25-year string of broken promises. Crackdowns on pesticide use have frequently been promised but have never materialized." But I would say that fact that we can get away with a "25-year string of broken promises" is evidence that the food supply is safe and that pesticide residues are not dangerous.

Increasing Frequency Of El Nino Takes Toll On Northern Hemisphere's Only Penguins (5/26/98) Mother Nature kills penguins but people get blamed.

World's Glaciers Continue To Shrink, According To New CU-Boulder Study (5/26/98) "The rate of warming is unprecedented in the last 600 years and the retreat of glaciers is probably unprecedented too, although we do not have the figures to prove it," said a researcher. "But I'm convinced there is a detectable human influence in the pattern of climate change we are seeing." Wasn't Son of Sam (David Berkowitz) convinced that his dog told him to kill? He didn't have the figures to prove it, either.

Climate Change May Impact Waterborne Diseases (5/26/98) Penn State economists join the global warming bandwagon by estimating to the dollar what a global warming-induced outbreak of waterborne disease will cost. They add "There are gaps in scientific understanding and available data for assessing the magnitude of drinking water health threats today... This makes it very difficult to assess the drinking water problems under a global warming scenario." Didn't anyone tell them about the gaps in scientific understanding and available data for assessing global warming? Or don't they get the news reports in State College, Pennsylvania?

Maintaining Order Is Crucial In First Grade (5/26/98) Duh! But aggressive and disruptive behavior by first grade boys is a public health problem? What about the crisis of sassy first grade girls?

Global Warming: So Much Hot Air: Environmentalists, Note (5/26/98) "Three independent checks -- temperature measured at the earth's surface, temperature of the lower atmosphere measured by weather balloons and temperature of the lower atmosphere measured by satellite -- show no statistically significant change."

... Or a Made-up Menace (5/26/98) Homicidal teens, that is.

Saving Our Trees of Life? (5/26/98) With regard to this Washington Post op-ed, the Science and Environmental Policy Project's Candace Crandall writes "For those too sensible to subscribe to the Washington Post: One wonders if the Michigan State EPA knew about this when it torched a thousand acres of forest 6 months ago in order to recreate "prairie." One wonders if environmentalist concern for the "needs and rights of indigenous peoples" figured into their blocking hydroelectric dam projects in the Third World. One wonders if indigenous peoples have ever been polled as to what THEY want. One wonders how long Washington Post readers can stomach this kind of rhetoric without retching." Right on, Candace!

Let's not be stampeded by the tentative science of global warming (5/26/98) "Governments sometimes resort to doubtful science to escape difficult political decisions. The mystery is why governments are resorting to doubtful science now to embrace them."

Global Warming: So Much Hot Air: Environmentalists, Note (5/26/98) "Three independent checks -- temperature measured at the earth's surface, temperature of the lower atmosphere measured by weather balloons and temperature of the lower atmosphere measured by satellite -- show no statistically significant change."

Researcher finds temperature differences between women and men (5/26/98) "Researchers say there really is something to the old adage, `cold hands, warm heart.'"

A Zoo for Endangered Species (5/25/98) "No change to the Endangered Species Act is likely to do much good for animals on the brink of extinction." But what about "genome banking?"

Secondhand Smoke and Atherogenic Changes (5/24/98) These Finnish researchers need to wear their hats and keep their brains warm.

Duke Researchers Finds That Moderate Caffeine Use Boosts Blood Pressure, Potential For Heart Disease (5/24/98) Does this rather silly, short-term study of 19 people show that moderate caffeine intake boosts heart disease risk over the course of a lifetime? Watch out Starbucks, Coke and Pepsi. Junk science is coming your way. And you do "target" kids, don't you?

Study: Bungee Jumping Is Safe (5/24/98) Compared to what?

`First Direct Evidence' that Radon Causes Lung Cancer? (5/24/98) A study in the British Journal of Cancer (June 1998) reports an 8 percent increase in lung cancer from radon in the home. The Lancet's coverage of this story calls it the "first direct evidence" between residential radon and lung cancer. But this study is the same old flawed type of radon study in which researchers measure radon in homes where study subjects lived 30 years ago and then try to match these measurements up with lung cancer occurrence. This is "circumstantial," not "direct" evidence. The authors add (comically?) that "Although the confidence intervals for these estimates just include zero, the estimates are similar in magnitude to those derived from other studies... The combined evidence therefore suggests that a zero effect would not be an appropriate interpretation of the study's results." When did zero plus zero stop equalling zero?

Was the thalidomide tragedy preventable? (5/24/98) Here are letters to the editor of The Lancet in response to a previous Lancet article in which writer Ann Dally suggests the thalidomide-caused birth defects of the early 1960s were preventable.

Deaths of 6 Viagra Users Studied: Heart Condition Risks Cited (5/23/98) Given that about 900,000 prescriptions have been written for the impotence drug, six deaths is far less than would be expected to occur by chance. This shouldn't be the end of the ride for Viagra, but you never know with the FDA's ready-fire-aim approach.

Study Shows Chlorinated Water Dramatically Cuts Strawberry Contamination (5/23/98) Tell me again why EPA wants to ban chlorinated drinking water?

Major Risk Factor For Cervical Cancer Found (5/23/98) Perhaps the studies claiming to find a link between secondhand smoke and cervical cancer should be reconsidered.

Work Demands Predict Poor Health (5/23/98) Psychological state is usually overlooked in epidemiologic studies.

The Power of Nicotine? (5/22/98) I think the CDC inadvertenly showed that nicotine is not as addictive as they claim.

Alcohol Fed Directly to Infants in Government Funded Study (5/21/98) While the U.S. Government prepares to take action against the tobacco industry supposedly in the name of kids' health, NIH funded researchers are giving White Russians to two-month old infants.

'No One Addicts You' (5/21/98) A humdinger of an editorial!

The Cold, Hard Facts About Guns (5/21/98) America may indeed be obsessed with guns, but much of what passes as fact simply isn't true."

EU to Ban Rubber Duckies (5/21/98) The European Commission has decided it will draw up legislation to ban the use of polyvinyl plastics used in the manufacture of children's toys made from soft plastic. [Source: Daily Environment Report (May 21, 1998)]. The action arises out of concern that the chemical pthalate can leach from toys, especially when put in the mouth. But before you toss out your kid's rubber duckie, you should know that, after more than 40 years of use of PVC plastics in toys, no real-world data shows adverse health effects.

EPA Asks Chemical Manufacturers to Test 1,000 Chemicals Annually (5/21/98) Although it is widely recognized that the EPA's chemical-by-chemical approach to regulation has yielded no benefit to public health and the environment over the last 25 years, EPA will formally ask chemical manufacturers to step up their testing starting in 1999. Such testing is estimated to cost up to $260,000 per chemical. The testing is a response to Vice President Al Gore's April 8 directive seeking testing of high production chemicals that children may be exposed to. If anything should be tested, it's Al Gore's honesty.

The Power of the Front Page of The New York Times (5/21/98) About the unsavory mix of cancer drugs, journalism, and book deals.

The Roadblocks to Angiogenesis Blockers (5/21/98) For the cancer drugs angiostatin and endostatin, it's a long way to Tipperary.

The Tobacco Bill Fraud (5/21/98) "The last time we checked, the National Organization for Women held itself out as an expert on women's rights, not smoking cessation. But amazingly, NOW has received more than $450,000 to 'strengthen national tobacco control.'"

Panic Button Glows as 2000 Approaches (5/21/98) While the year 2000 computer problem is real and demands a response, there can be no doubt this issue has also been adopted by professional doomsayers as yet another junk-science end-of-the-world scenario to justify their political agenda.

'Renegade' Assault On Global Warming (5/21/98) "It was disturbing to read that scientists who are skeptical that the evidence warrants the destructive actions proposed by the Clinton administration are labeled as 'renegades.'

Unknowns About Climate Variability Render Treaty Targets Premature (5/21/98) According to Dr. S. Fred Singer, the Rio de Janeiro Climate Treaty has a goal that is not defined. Most people believe that the goal is to "reduce emissions." This is not so: Article 2 does not mention emissions, but calls for concentration levels in the atmosphere that are not dangerous to the climate system. Nobody knows what this means; therefore, our policymakers are essentially flying blind. More CO2 may be as good as -- or better than -- less CO2.

Anthropogenic climate warming in the 20th century? (5/21/98) This note was just submitted by Dr. S. Fred Singer to Science magazine. It concludes that the major warming during the early part of this century was due to natural causes rather than human activities.

EPA Guidelines Waste Funds, Based on Faulty Science (5/21/98) "Billions of dollars of public funds may be expended needlessly to comply with overly restrictive regulations for environmental clean-up and waste disposal unless the EPA's proposed Federal Guidance on "Health Risks from Low-Level Environmental Exposure to Radionuclides" is revised to reflect current scientific understanding."

Why Review Articles on the Health Effects of Passive Smoking Reach Different Conclusions (5/20/98) Researchers report that the conclusions of review articles on ETS are strongly associated with the affiliations of their authors-- i.e., authors associated with the tobacco industry are 88 times more likely to conclude that ETS is not harmful. "These findings suggest that the tobacco industry may be attempting to influence scientific opinion by flooding the scientific literature with large numbers of review articles supporting its position that passive smoking is not harmful to health," they say. But given that almost two-thirds of the articles conclude that ETS is harmful and 87 percent of these are authored by non-tobacco affiliated authors, how do the researchers know that it isn't the tobacco industry opponents who are attempting to influence scientific opinion by flooding the scientific literature with large numbers of review articles supporting their position that passive smoking is harmful to health?

Novel Concept -- Public Health Policy Should be Empirically Driven (5/20/98) In the editorial accompanying this Journal of the American Medical Association study (5/20/98) on preventing sexually transmitted infections among adolescents, the authors state "To promote the health of adolescents, public health policy should be empirically driven, not ideologically driven." How did the JAMA editors let that one slip by?

Detroit News Environmental Racism Series (5/20/98) Here are the first three articles: "A new push to classify inner-city pollution as a civil rights offense draws cries of dismay" (4/19/98), "EPA rule troubles business: Some balk at plans, citing civil rights, pollution linkage" (4/26/98), and "Feds put car plants at risk" (5/20/98).

Killing Fields: A Bacterial Pesticide May Threaten Human Life (5/20/98) Killing fields? Is this the correct perspective?

Sweet Tooth, Personality Traits Diagnose Alcoholism (5/20/98) I would have thought that alcoholism would be diagnosed by whether you drink lots of alcohol, not whether you had a sweet tooth. And does this have anything to do with those little chocolates filled with Grand Marnier? Yum!

National Office Of Drug Safety Is Needed, Experts Say In JAMA (5/20/98) Following up on the recent scare about adverse reactions to prescription drugs, calcium channel blocker scaremongers Curt Furberg and Bruce Psaty call for new federal bureaucracy. By the way, exactly what's the FDA for anyhow?

Some Exercise Guidelines May Not Be Valid For Older Adults, Studies Find (5/20/98) While I realize that people like (and even need) to be told how to exercise, I've always been skeptical of exercise guidelines. Go see your doctor for a checkup, listen to his advice, and then see what you enjoy and have time for.

Disputed Statistics Fuel Politics in Youth Smoking (5/20/98) New York Times tobacco reporter Barry Meier makes the (surprising) statement, "Social issues often spark unfounded claims cloaked in the reason of science." I wonder where he got that idea?

The Senate's Tobacco Wad (5/20/98) The Wall Street Journal writes that under the current Senate tobacco bill, "A smoking ban would be imposed on the areas around entrances to almost all buildings... Now, chasing nicotine addicts down icy streets will become the country's only legalized hate crime... The McCain bill allows any private individual or entity to bring an action in U.S. District Court to enforce the restrictions on secondhand smoke."

Dispelling the Myths About Commercial Shrimp Harvesting (5/19/98) Should shrimp be labeled as "Turtle Safe?"

EPA Rejects Union of Concerned Scientists Request on Biopesticides (5/20/98) In a letter to EPA, the Unabomber-ish, anti-biotechnology Union of Concerned Scientists (or are they really lawyers?) requested that EPA require more acreage to be planted during the 1999 growing season with crops not genetically engineered to produce biological pesticides, including Bt pesticides which some corn and crop strains have been engineered to produce. But heeding an April 28, 1998 report from EPA's Scientific Advisory Panel advising against making the use of engineered crops economically or logistically infeasible to growers, EPA's Lynn Goldman said that the SAP recommendations were "more of a priority." [Source: Daily Environment Report, May 19, 1998].

The Week That Was May 11 - May 17, 1998 (5/19/98) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

New Study Shows Second Generation Immigrant Children Gaining Weight (5/18/98) I'm sure they'd be healthier where their parents came from?

Problems with Media Gatekeepers (5/19/98) Nature (May 14, 1998) editorializes this week that "It's easy to point fingers at science writers and scientists when newspaper accounts of research throw patients an dstock markets into unjustified frenzy. But editors, too, share responsibility." The editorial is an effort to spread the blame for the hoopla caused by Gina Kolata's recent New York Times article about the experimental cancer drugs, angiostatin and endostatin. As Nature put it, "Last week's story contained essentially no new science,... but its location on the front page reinforced the allure of the scientists' hopeful enthusiasm and belied that substantial uncertainty."

Cats Cause Ulcers? (5/19/98) The Journal of Clincal Microbiology (1998;36: 1366-70) reports that cuddling a cat could cause ulcers. A dentist with a recurrent history of dyspepsia was found to have stomach ulcers with strains of the bacteria Heliobacter heilmanni--a bacteria that reportedly infects 80-100 percent of cats, dogs and pigs. Testing of genes from the man's H heilmanni and his cats' showed they were "highly homologous." [Source: The Lancet (May 16, 1998)]. Of course the "testing" failed to indicate whether the dentist got the bacteria from his cats, or vice versa.

Science Advice from Enviro Groups? (5/19/98) Nature (May 14, 1998) reports that Klaus Topfer, head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) "wants UNEP to play a stronger role in the way countries implement the five UN conventions that relate to conservation, including taking a lead in developing relevant science advice. Controversially, however, he wants much of the advice to come from non-government environment groups -- including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)..." What's next? Will the UN ask Sadaam Hussein to inspect his own chemical weapons facilities?

Leading Causes of Death in the U.S., 1995 (5/19/98) The Journal of the National Cancer Institute (May 20, 1998) reports that heart disease was the most frequent cause of death (31.9 percent) in 1995. Cancer was second (23.3 percent) followed by cerebrovascular disease (6.8 percent), accidents (4.0 percent), pneumonia and influenza (3.6 percent), chronic lung disease (1.1 percent) and all other causes (29.2 percent).

New Study: Smoking Reduces Breast Cancer Risk??? (5/18/98) An interesting study result comes just as the Senate starts to debate the "National Tobacco Policy and Youth Smoking Reduction Act."

Junk Science in a Cut-throat Industry (5/18/98) "I don't know if [Eli Lilly] is to blame... But I do know that at a number of different conferences I've attended, [researchers] have gotten up and spoken of [raloxifene] like a miracle drug. They actually use those words, 'a miracle drug,' and we have to spend a lot of time telling women we have no information that this is a miracle drug."

Fighting Environmental Racism (5/18/98) "The best environmental policy is to create jobs for people who don't have them. Sadly, that is just what the EPA is likely to kill."

Physicians Dedicated to Wealth? (5/18/98) I hope you find this American Medical Association advertisement as amusing as I did.

From a Pessimistic Pundit, A Doomsday Scenario (5/17/98) Charles Platt reviews Jeremy Rifkin's new book "The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World."

Politics, Science and the Global Warming Debate (5/16/98) More on the "Petition Project.

New York Times Posts a Correction (5/15/98) Has John Cushman, the environmentalists' parrot at the New York Times, learned not to trust everything the enviros feed him?

Scientists Create Extremely Sensitive Test For Detecting Radiation Damage (5/15/98) DNA damage does not necessarily equate to adverse health effects because DNA usually repairs itself. I think this development is sort of like the improvement in chemical detection capability from parts per million to parts per quadrillion -- just another way to condemn radiation exposures and chemicals without evidence of actual harm.

Policies Needed For Reporting Potential Hazards Of Asteroid Collisions With Earth (5/15/98) After the recent asteroid scare, I think the only policy we need is one to keep astronomers locked and gagged in their observatories.

Calcium Channel Blockers: Avoid Hasty Judgments (5/15/98) "Some consider that the evidence against calcium antagonists is sufficient to advise the use of alternative types of drug where possible. In considering this evidence, however, we should remember the "cholesterol controversy" of the early 1990s."

Toys and games: poorly recognised hearing hazards? (5/15/98) Earlier this week, we learned the European Union countries were panicked over PVC in rubber duckies. Now it's noisy toys.

Passive smoking case reaches High Court (5/15/98) "Sylvia Sparrow, aged 60, should learn soon whether her action, the first damages claim over passive smoking to reach court in Britain, has been successful."

Global life expectancy rises (5/15/98) Global life expectancy at birth, now 66 years, is projected to reach 73 years by 2025.

Adverse Drug Reactions (5/15/98) Adverse have been in the news recently. Here's a primer on the topic.

Gene Detected That Decreases "Bad" LDL Cholesterol In Men May Cut Heart Disease Risk By 50 Percent (5/15/98) Another previously unknown risk factor for heart disease?

15 Drugs, Dyes and Other Chemicals Newly Listed As Known or Likely Human Carcinogens (5/15/98) The National Toxicology Program junk science machine prints more labels.

Sex organs in mice stunted by tooth-coating chemical (5/14/98) A new dental scare courtesy of Frederick vom Saal, the well-known endocrine disruption terrorist. Look for a review of this research as soon as I can get a copy.

Report finds fetal lead exposure may boost asthma risk (5/14/98) These researchers ought to wake up and smell the coffee (the leaded kind!). Lead levels have been falling for 20 years while asthma rates have been increasing. So it's doubtful that fetal lead exposure is a significant cause of asthma. Also, the researchers express concern for developing countries where leaded gasoline is still sold and women work in factories where lead is used. But asthma rates are relatively low in these parts of the world. I don't think this rat study extrapolates to humans very well.

No way to beef up food safety (5/14/98) "The Clinton administration and its allies in Congress are seeking to capitalize on [recent food safety scares] to justify new federal regulations on what we eat and drink."

EPA Approves WIPP (5/14/98) The New Mexico repository for nuclear waste was approved by EPA. But the enviros vow to fight. After all, who wants nuclear waste disposed of safely underground? It's much safer to leave it strewn across the country above ground, isn't it? Click here for the EPA Press Release and here for New York Times coverage.

Ethanol Business As Usual (5/14/98) Ethanol remains a case of junk science combined with corporate welfare.

Clearing Up Cosmetic Confusion (5/14/98) An FDA backgrounder on cosmetics.

Irradiation: A Safe Measure for Safer Food (5/14/98) An FDA backgrounder on food irradiation.

EPA Issues Neurotoxicity Risk Assessment Guidelines (5/14/98) Find out EPA plans to assess chemical risks to the nervous system.

EPA Issues Ecological Risk Assessment Guidelines (5/14/98) Find out EPA plans to assess risks to plants and critters.

Smoking Isn't a Public Health Issue (5/13/98) Like it says.

Breast Cancer Drugs: A Cautionary Note (5/13/98) "The risks of long-term use of [raloxifene] are untested, and it should not be viewed as a panacea by women concerned about the very real risk of developing breast cancer."

Tobacco Ad Bans Limit Freedom and Don't Work (5/13/98) "No one pretends that people bath more as a result of soap ads, or that they brush their teeth more as a result of toothpaste advertising."

Still All Wet from Acid Rain (5/13/98) The Adirondack Council, an upstate New York enviro group, just issued a report titled "Acid Rain: A Continuing National Tragedy." I guess they must have missed the $400 million National Acid Precipitation Assessment program report concluding the opposite. For a copy of the Adirondack Council report call 518-873-2240. But if actually you want to learn something about acid rain, click here.

CPSC, Commerce Not Toying Around with EC (5/13/98) The Daily Environment Report (5/13/98) reports the Department of Commerce and Consumer Product Safety Commission are working (in a welcome change) on behalf of U.S. toy makers to block considreation of a ban on the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in toys. According to Greenpeace-generated scaremongering, PVC toys leach pthalates when exposed to sun, heat or are mouthed by children, potentially causing cancer, liver damage and endocrine disruption. However, to date, no scientific evidence exists to indicate toys made from PVC are causing any harm -- except when adults trip over toys strewn about the house.

Hormone Replacement Therapy, Raloxifene and Coronary Heart Disease (5/12/98) Women beware! Drug manufacturers may be selling you drugs to treat a mythical problem.

A Book for All Seasons (5/12/98) James Lovelock writes "We are so ignorant of the facts upon which science and our scientific culture are established that we give equal place on our bookshelves to the nonsense of astrology, creationism, and junk science."

The People v. Carol Browner: EPA on Trial (5/12/98) "When power is decoupled from any sense of responsibility or accountability, abuse becomes inevitable."

Joe Camel 'R' Us (5/12/98) "...if the tobacco industry is so evil, it is necessary to manipulate data, make up victims and strip the industry of ordinary legal defenses to win a case in a Minnesota kangaroo court?"

The Week That Was May 4 - May 10, 1998 (5/12/98) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Junked Scientists (5/12/98) "Bad science does not protect the environment."

Swedish Study Fails to Link Secondhand Smoke with Lung Cancer (5/12/98) Did I miss the New York Times headline about these statistically insiginificant associations?

Studies Shed Light on Sunscreen Efficacy (5/12/98) "There is little evidence that preventing sunburn in human skin prevents skin cancer."

Public Health Implications of 1990 Air Toxics Concentrations Across the United Staes (5/12/98) These EPA researchers conclude that their "comprehensive assessment of air toxics concentrations across the United States indicates hazardous air pollutants may pose a potential public health problem." Comprehensive assessment? Hah! Outdoor concentrations of "air contaminants" were modeled, not measured. And whether these levels were "toxic" was based on "standard toxicological references" (Translation: Speculative extrapolation of laboratory rat experiments to humans), not observed incidence of disease. But since the lead researcher was Tracey J. Woodruff, the EPA "scientist" who last year linked SIDS with outdoor air pollution without even considering indoor air, what do you expect?

Environmental Health, Risk Assessment, and Democracy (5/12/98) A surprisingly even-handed editorial in Envirnomental Health Perspectives that concludes "Scientists who are involved in environmental risk issues can help to achieve the aim of an informed citizenry by more clearly communicating scientific knowledge and indicating the role that policy considerations play in their conclusions."

Sick building syndrome industry grows (5/11/98) "Ten years ago I spoke at an international meeting of indoor-air specialists. There were 200 attendees. Six years later when I spoke at a similar meeting held by the same organization, 10,000 people attended."

Road Rage a Top Danger? (5/11/98) "There are countless potential causes of danger on the highways. If we are to spend our precious resources on highway safety matters, we ought to be careful to use them to address reasonably well-documented causes..."

Environmental Crack Smoke? (5/10/98) Find out where your tax dollars are going!

High Heels: The Next Public Health Problem? (5/10/98) Is nothing sacred?

Study of sulfides in bacteria casts doubt on evidence of life in Martian meteorite ALH84001 (5/8/98) "The Martian meteorite ALH84001 gave people hope that it was evidence for extraterrestrial life because minerals found in it resembled minerals created by some unusual earthly bacteria. Now it appears that the bacteria themselves contradict that claim."

Lawyers' Fee in Minnesota Tobacco Settlement Greater Than NCI Lung Cancer Research Budget (5/8/98) In the just-settled lawsuit brought by the state of Minnesota against the tobacco industry, the law firm of Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi, which contracted with the state and Blue Cross to serve as legal counsel in the case, will receive $466.4 million over three years -- not bad for two years of work. This is more than the National Cancer Institute will spend on lung cancer research over the same period. I guess Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III cares more about lawyers' than Minnesotans who will suffer from lung cancer.

Former Global Warming Bureaucrat Gets $5 Million Payoff (5/8/98) Eileen Claussen, who as deputy assistant secretary of state for environmental affairs helped develop the climate protocol approved at an international conference last December in Kyoto, Japan, said Thursday that she would run a global warming policy center with a $5 million annual grant (payoff?) from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Hey, for a cool $5 million a year, even I'd think about saying the sky is falling!

Nobel Winner Denies Cancer Comment (5/8/98) Prospects for the new cancer drugs make good people do wierd things.

Jumping the Gun: U.S. cancer researcher Folkman to be subject of new book (5/8/98) Although a "cure" for cancer is a long way off, "A book deal has been signed to tell the story about the life and work of Dr. Judah Folkman, discoverer of experimental cancer-fighting drugs that sparked huge interest this week, publisher Random House Inc. said Thursday."

More Guns = Less Crime (5/8/98) "Charlton Heston recently took Barbra Streisand to task in full-page ads for her pro-gun-control film, "The Long Island Incident." Yet as much as Streisand's view appeals to some, a new book shows that crime falls where people pack guns."

Pesticides Tested for Risk to Children (5/8/98) "The science behind the pesticide registration process does test for effects in children and when the tests are performed, no effects are seen that would indicate children are at risk of developing `permanent loss of brain function.'"

Mice vs. Men: Slow Growth Tale (5/7/98) Typical of Endangered Spcies Act actions, no one knows how many Preble's mice there are, or used to be. It hibernates nine months of the year, and then only comes out at night. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service admits it knows little about the mice -- but will likely list the species as "endangered," anyway, and hold up development in the Denver, Colorado area.

Interplanetary Dust May Cause Climate Change, Gradual Extinction (5/7/98) What's Al Gore's plan for controlling interplanetary dust?

Kyoto Duplicity (5/7/98) "Say this much for President Clinton: He doesn't let a little thing like the Constitution get in the way of his policy goals. He wants to put the Kyoto global warming treaty in place without Senate ratification."

CJD Rates (5/7/98) The "Sixth Annual Report on Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance in the UK" concludes that rates of CJD in the UK are comparable to those observed in other countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world, including countries which are free of BSE.

Where's the News About Cancer Rates (5/7/98) "A recent paper in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society, documents a significant drop in cancer rates. But the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups have been conspicuously quiet about the good news."

Vegetarian Mortality (5/7/98) The American Dietetic Association position paper on vegetarianism states "Studies indicate that vegetarians often have lower morbidity [Reference 1] and mortality [Reference 2] rates from several chronic degenerative diseases than do nonvegetarians." Reference 2 is Key et al., British Medical Journal 313:775, 1996. It says no such thing. The only statistically significant difference observed for any degenerative disease was an INCREASE in breast cancer mortality among vegetarians. (Linda McCartney?) Did the ADA substitute religious belief for science? Thanks to John Mercer for the submission.

They don't teach constitutional law in medical school, do they? (5/6/98) In the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Jonesboro, Arkansas, New England Journal of Medicine editor Jerome Kassirer takes on the Second Amendment. Find out what Kassierer missed in medical school.

Frequent Mental Distress (5/6/98) The Centers for Disease Control report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (5/1/98) that 8.6 percent of Americans suffer from "frequent mental distress" (FMD). What "scientific" technique was used to arrive at this estimate? The CDC asked 436,107 people the question "Now thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problms with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?" Those who answered 14 or more days were defined as having FMD. I don't know if SELF-REPORTED responses to ONE, VAGUE question qualifies as science, but I do know that I suffer from "frequent junk science disorder" (FJSD) every week when the CDC issues the MMWR.

History Shows New Cancer Drugs Often Fall Short in Human Testing (5/6/98) It's funny how the medical research community is much more reticent than the public health community about extrapolating animal experiments to humans. The medical research community (i.e., real scientists) advises caution; the public health community (i.e., junk scientists) advises hysteria.

Ozone, Asthma and Inhalers: Drugmaker's Lobbying Assailed (5/6/98) As an asthmatic, I am outraged that EPA banned CFC-powered inhalers in favor of "ozone friendly" inhalers. First, CFC-caused ozone depletion remains an unproven theory. Second, I doubt that inhalers are a significant soure of CFCs. Third, the ozone friendly inhalers don't work as well. What used to be a blast of airway-passage opening medication is now a trickle. Fourth, the inferior inhalers cost more. Way to go EPA!

Babbitt Sets Plan to Pare Endangered Species List: Protected Status Aided Recoveries (5/6/98) Another Joby Warrick article where he naively falls for the government line. For example, Warrick writes that the bald eagle and peregrine falcon were pushed to the brink of extinction by DDT, and they were saved by banning DDT use. Of course, the reality is that hunting, not DDT, is more likely what caused declines in those bird populations. Click here for a related article about DDT and birds.

Gadabout guilt trips of the 'Green Sheet' (5/6/98) "Most people buy a car or truck to move themselves and their families around - not to appease white collar hippies who worship fuel efficiency like some latter-day Golden Calf."

Viewpoint Kyoto By Decree? It Could Happen Here (5/6/98) "If the `global warming' treaty negotiated last fall in Kyoto, Japan, and signed by President Clinton isn't ratified by Congress - a likely outcome -it may end up being implemented by decree.

Scientists add to heat over global warming (5/6/98) "The Global Warming Treaty and its shaky science are under attack by the largest group of scientists ever."

Insurers cool on global weather (5/5/98) "Through much of this decade, the world's insurance industry has been fanning the fires of global warming."

If at first you don't succeed... (5/5/98) The Journal of the National Cancer Institute (5/6/98) reports that a meta-analysis of 37 studies of cancer incidence in farmers published in the Annals of Epidemiology (1/1/98) concluded that "the presence of a ubiquitous carcinogen(s) in the farming environment, other than sunlight, seems unlikely." But, of course, the JNCI article concludes with "Scientists have not given up trying to answer the pesticide question from an epidemiological standpoint, however." Your tax dollars at work!

Extensions of the "Tragedy of the Commons" (5/5/98) In 1973, Science magazine published Garrett Hardin's essay, "Tragedy of the Commons." Hardin saw overpopulation as an impending disaster and advocated coercive control measures such as one-child-to-a-family and getting a permit to have a child. While Hardin now admits his suggestions were wrongheaded, he still believes freedoms must be given up to save the world from overpopulation. It seems that old socialists never die, they just update their discredited essays.

Don't Depose the Kings of the Road (5/5/98) "... A government study estimates that adding 100 pounds to small cars would save eight times more lives than lightening sport-utility vehicles by 100 pounds."

NIEHS Attacks Seitz (5/4/98) In the April 1998 Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), editors Gary E.R. Hook and George Lucier write that "[Frederick Seitz's petition against the global warming treaty] reminds us of the approach used by the tobacco industry over the decades when asked if tobacco is addictive and harmful. Denials offered by the tobacco industry were disingenuous and resulted in untold misery." So Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Sciences and President Emeritus of Rockfeller University, gets likened to the tobacco industry? Click here to e-mail George Lucier about smearing the venerable Dr. Seitz.

Raloxifene and Osteoporsis (5/4/98) If you're a postmenopausal woman excited about raloxifene, you should temper your enthusiasm with this New England Journal of Medicine letter-to-the-editor.

DDT Metabolite Fails to Influence Turtle Sexual Differentiation (5/4/98) Here's the abstract of a study publshed in the April 1998 Environmetnal Health Perspectives.

Lung Cancer, Proximity to Industry, and Poverty in Northeast England (5/4/98) The abstract of this study links industrial air pollution with lung cancer. But if you read the study, the results are not statistically significant, the association doesn't appear for men or older women, and the study doesn't distinguish the effects of poverty versus pollution.

What a Difference 100 Years Makes (5/4/98) An essay titled "The Etiology of Cancer" from the Journal of the American Medical Association published 100 years ago on May 7, 1898 speculated that cancer was a communicable disease spread from vegetation to humans. Studies had noted that foresters, "excise officials" who spent too much time on "shady wood paths," and people who lived in wooded districts or shaded dwellings seemed "especially liable to cancer." One can imagine that 100 years from now, today's global warming hysteria will seem similarly ridiculous.

Go Ahead, Shake the Salt Shaker! (5/4/98) A new meta-analysis of 58 clinical trials published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (5/6/98) reported results that "do not support a general recommendation to reduce sodium intake." And although the meta-analysis technique is only statistics, not science, it's a technique much more suited for clinical trials than epidemiologic studies. [Note: This study won't be posted on the JAMA site until 5/6.]

The Week That Was April 27 - May 2, 1998 (5/4/98) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

"Cut-off" or "Cut-out" Date? (5/4/98) On May 1, 1998, the EPA Science Advisory Board Environmental Health Committee rejected EPA's plan to label 1,3-butadiene (used in the manufacture of synthetic rubber) as a "known human carcinogen." [Source: Daily Environment Report (5/4/98)]. EPA was criticized for excluding findings from certain recently completed studies -- results that didn't support EPA's predetermined conclusion! EPA's response was that it had set a "cut-off" date after which new studies would not be reviewed. How convenient. EPA also used this lame excuse when it excluded two nonpositive epidemiologic studies, including the largest study at that time, from its 1992 secondhand smoke risk assessment.

Parasites At The Gate (5/4/98) "In the '80s, Hollywood had a good belly laugh at the expense of "greedy" tobacco companies. R.J. Reynolds executives were derided as "Barbarians at the Gate" in an HBO movie. Don't expect any sequels poking fun at greedy trial lawyers and politicians."

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (5/4/98) Is Stanton Glantz a "heart specialist?"

What the FDA Doesn't Want You to Know (5/4/98) Robert Goldberg says "...with the FDA's recent power grab, people will be left with fewer choices and less medical freedom than ever before."

Scientists and Their Political Passions (5/4/98) Through this op-ed by Robert Park, the New York Times continues its assault against those who dare speak out against climate change hysteria. Check out the response to Park from Dr. Malcolm Ross.

Climate change fervour cools (5/4/98) Terence Corcoran, a columnist with Canada's most popular national newspaper recently wrote a piece on the Kyoto Protocol and the apparent backtracking by some Canadian government officials in light of the "anti-Kyoto" activism. Unfortunately, Canada just signed the Kyoto Accord.

Kyoto Protocol: Mysticism Undermines Clear Thinking (5/4/98) The Calgary Herald, published this op-ed mentioning the Petition Project. Politicians, environmentalists, and corporate types are arriving in Calgary today to attend a 2-day conference to discuss how Canadians will meet "our commitments."

A Misinformation Campaign (5/4/98) The St. Louis Post-Dispath call the Petition Project a "dirty trick" and says "Don't be fooled by organizations with fancy-sounding names--many of them are pseudo-scientific, such as ... the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition..." Hey, that's my group!

Two Drugs Eradicate Tumors in Mice (5/3/98) "Within a year, if all goes well, the first cancer patient will be injected with two new drugs that can eradicate any type of cancer, with no obvious side effects and no drug resistance -- in mice."

New York State of Mind? (5/3/98) In the continuing Third Reich-ish assault against the tobacco industry, the New York Attorney General takes action to muzzle free speech. If New York succeeds, every politically incorrect non-profit organzation with a politically should start sweating.

Birds' eggs started to thin long before DDT (5/2/98) "By combing museum collections for old birds' eggs, a researcher has found that thrush eggshells in Great Britain were thinning by the turn of the century, 47 years before DDT hit the market."

California Teams with Enviros to Sue 4 Grocery Store Chains Over Diesel Exhaust (5/2/98) Filed under Proposition 65, the lawsuits allege the companies failed to provide warnings about cancer causing potential. Click here and see if you think the case against diesel has been made.

A Cup of Tea May Protect Against Skin Cancer (5/1/98) Forget Coppertone. Take the Nestea plunge? Boy, I'd sure hate to be the poor sap that relies on this mouse study.

New Program Designed To Help Smokers Get Anti-Smoking Messages To Their Kids (5/1/98) These researchers say "It is a mistake on the part of parents to think that smoking is more a function of media influence and peer pressure than what they themselves do... Parents, not the media or friends, are a lot more important before and during elementary school." So at least someone in the public health community recognizes that parental guidance is more important than Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man.

Lungs Suffer From Growing Up In A Household Of Smokers? (5/1/98) Columbia University researchers claim to correlate lung function decreases in freshmen college students with parental smoking. Unfortunately, I don't think that the combination of self-reported history by college kids and mere statistical correlation (everyone knows correlation doesn't equal causation) amounts to what the researchers label as "more solid evidence."

Risk Assessment: The U.S. Experience (5/1/98) I just returned from the U.K. where I delivered this speech to a forum sponsored by the UK Presidency to the European Union. The EU is in the process of developing a risk assessment program. I was invite to talk about the U.S. risk assessment process.

Stanford's Nuttiest Tenured Turkey (5/1/98) An article from Stanford University's alternatve student newspaper about the one-and-thankfully-only, Paul Ehrlich.

No link between measles, mumps and rubella vaccination and autism, study finds (5/1/98) "Finnish researchers who studied millions of children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella said Friday there was no evidence the vaccination could cause autism or bowel disease, as an earlier study suggested."

The Fat Tax (5/1/98) Wouldn't it be easier if the government just kept our salaries and gave us an allowance?

Industry Witness Questions Minnesota's Calculation of Smoking Health Costs (5/1/98) "A statistician testified today that Minnesota's estimate of the health costs of smoking was flawed because it included such maladies as hemorrhoids, schizophrenia and broken bones."

Global Warming Smear (5/1/98) "In a democracy, the public depends on competing groups to forcefully present their views to determine the full truth. But smearing opponents to suppress facts that don't fit with its agenda has become part of the basic strategy of the environmental left. To the extent that the media are cooperating in this campaign of suppression, they ill serve democracy."

Cigarettes and Children: The Rest of the Story (5/1/98) "By now, there is a growing consensus among Washington politicians that the tobacco companies have employed systematic deceit in cynically exploiting our children for their own selfish ends. Well, look who's talking."

Bring People into the Warming Debate (5/1/98) Unfortunately, the New York Times wants to keep people out.

Epidemic of Needle Sticks? (5/1/98) An epidemiologist submitted the following about this article: "I know it is quite wrong as far regarding the transmission of HIV. The last epidemiology investigation I saw a couple of years ago estimated that less than 30 people in the USA and Canada could have been infected based on a reported incidence of two cases. The solution to the problem is much more related to changing the cavalier attitudes of many physicians and senior nursing staff to follow general precautions than to the introduction of newer so-called "safe" needles.

Global Warming: Enjoy it While You Can (5/1/98) A chronology of global temperature change from the National Center for Policy Analysis.

The Week That Was April 20 - April 26, 1998 (5/1/98) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Material presented on this home page constitutes opinion of the author.

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