[Pharmwaste] Rachel Was Wrong website and Bias

DeBiasi,Deborah dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Fri Jun 8 17:04:52 EDT 2007

	Excellent point, Laurie!  It really is important to look at as
many viewpoints as possible so that one can make sense of what the issue
really is, and then decide if a response of some kind is necessary.
There are scientific studies being done every day that are not only
subject to interpretation by the investigating principals, but also by
the media who try to explain what it all means to the public. When I see
multiple news articles based on the same study, I try to read and post
them all for some balance.  Of course, going to the original study to
make your own interpretation is always the best idea.

	There is so much information appearing in our media these days,
often with startling headlines.  Some folks that read the articles have
the initial response of "Oh, NOOOO! THAT'S in my WATER?", and they may
call the environmental agency or treatment plant, and tell them to do a
better job cleaning up the water.  They'll look at the potential health
issues that may be caused by the chemical/pharmaceutical/endocrine
disruptor, and see if they know of anyone who has experienced that
problem ("hmmm, I bet that's why that couple down the street never had
kids...").  They go buy bottled water for a week or two, maybe do a
quick search on the computer, then go back to life as it was.  They
depend on us in the environmental fields to make sense of it all, and to
make recommendations to them on what they should or should not do.  

	Meanwhile, those of us on list servers like this are digesting
as much as we can, going to seminars, and trying to put it into
perspective for the long term.  We need to know what is being found and
at what levels, what is or could be the potential harm to humans and the
environment, how does it get into the water, how can we get it out of
the water if we need to remove it, how can we keep it from getting in
the water, what testing should we do and how do we pay for it, etc.
Researchers have had to change their perspective and not focus the
search for the cause of a problem on just the more obvious culprits, but
to search for anything that is out of the ordinary or "norm" as we know
it.  Industry and manufacturers are watching closely to see how they
will be affected if source reduction/removal of a substance is asked
for, and they will counter with their own research to show there is no
problem.  Will there be bias?  Yes, on both sides of the discussion.
While this issue is a problem for us environmentally, to change things
will affect the economy, product manufacturing, building, education,
personal habits and lifestyles, etc.  We also have to be very careful
that if the state or federal environmental agencies move to ban some
pollutant of concern, that another one with different "side effects"
won't replace it.  

	How much of a problem is bias on these issues?  Take a look at
the attached picture which is from a presentation attributed to
Environmental Health Services.  There were 161 studies done on Bisphenyl
A up through 2006.  Industry did 12 studies and all 12 showed there were
no detrimental effects from Bisphenyl A.  There were 149 government
funded studies done, and 138 of them showed effects while 11 showed no
detrimental effects.  

 	Do a search of the web for "phthalates", and the first two sites
to come up with Explorer are http://www.phthalates.org/.  That is
sponsored by:  The Phthalate Esters Panel (the Panel) of the American
Chemistry Council <http://www.americanchemistry.com>  is composed of all
major manufacturers and some users of the primary phthalate esters in
commerce in the United States. Panel members include: BASF Corporation,
Eastman Chemical Company, ExxonMobil Chemical Company, and Ferro
Corporation. Teknor Apex Company, a major user of the materials, is an
associate member.  The third site is Wikipedia, and the fourth is:
tes.htm.  This web site, www.ourstolenfuture.org, is the web home for
the authors of Our Stolen Future, where they provide regular updates
about the cutting edge of science related to endocrine disruption.  I
thought I'd try www.phthalates.com just to see where that went, and lo
and behold, this site is sponsored by the European Council for
Plasticisers and Intermediates (ECPI).  ECPI is a sector group of Cefic,
the European Chemical Industry Council, which represents the interests
of the European chemical industry.  This is the information that the
general public would find with their query.  In my talks, I mention this
site, http://www.dhmo.org/  (web site for the Dihydrogen Monoxide
Research Division - DMRD), which attributes all sorts of scary but
factual things (environmental incidents, cancer, conspiracy) to
dihydrogen monoxide, or water.  Some of you may remember the student who
did a paper on gullibility using this as the subject in 1997 - see
http://www.snopes.com/science/dhmo.asp.  It is just as easy to create
sites that will use some factual information to show that a compound
does no harm.  Reader beware! 
P.S. - Here is a "Rachel was Right" type of site with a newsletter that
I've found useful:  http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/index.cfm?St=1  

Deborah L. DeBiasi

Email:   dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
Mail:          P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218 (NEW!)
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
PH:         804-698-4028
FAX:      804-698-4032

-----Original Message-----
From: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us
[mailto:pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us] On Behalf Of Tenace,
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2007 11:54 AM
To: pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us
Subject: [Pharmwaste] Rachel Was Wrong website


Here's an interesting web site - it argues against the type of things
that we are all trying to prevent, eliminate, avoid...DDT, PVC, the
Precautionary Principle...this is how it is described: "This website
addresses the dangers associated with anti-technology views, as embodied
in Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Such views pervade much of modern-day
environmental literature, and have actually become part of the world's
conventional wisdom. The materials on this site focus on showing the
dangers to such extreme perspectives, demonstrating a serious need to
rethink this approach."

I think it is always important to remember that other people have
different views than ours - and to learn how they are supporting those


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