[Pharmwaste] Rachel Was Wrong website and Bias

Akin Babatola ABabatola at ci.santa-cruz.ca.us
Mon Jun 11 11:16:28 EDT 2007


Thanks for a very good attempt at a comprehensive and balanced piece on the
issue, Deborah. I think a little commentary on 'bias' may be in order,
however. 

It is reasonable to expect that Industry as advocates for its own products
would sponsor and publish research to elucidate the efficacies of their
products. This kind of 'bias' is to be expected in their publications.

Whereas the 'bias' of Government (as advocates of the larger community),
ought to be seen in the sponsorship and publication of studies that provide
objective basis for resource managers and risk managers to develop and
implement sustainable practices. 

If critical components of government fail to realize this modified ombudsman
role as theirs, the advocacy role of the environmental movement shifts too
strongly to compensate for this lack! This may be result in the 'bias'
presented environmentalists.

Thanks.

 

Akin Babatola

Lab/Environmental Compliance Manager WWTF

831.420.6045

 

-----Original Message-----
From: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us
[mailto:pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us] On Behalf Of
pharmwaste-request at lists.dep.state.fl.us
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2007 2:05 PM
To: pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us
Subject: Pharmwaste Digest, Vol 20, Issue 7

 

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Today's Topics:

 

   1. Out of office (Diane.Maltby at co.hennepin.mn.us)

   2. Re: Pharmwaste Digest, Vol 20, Issue 6 (John Gohlke)

   3. RE: Rachel Was Wrong website and Bias  (DeBiasi,Deborah)

 

 

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Message: 3

Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2007 17:04:52 -0400

From: "DeBiasi,Deborah" <dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov>

Subject: RE: [Pharmwaste] Rachel Was Wrong website and Bias 

To: "Tenace, Laurie" <Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us>,

            <pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us>

Message-ID:

            <6C097DA58429B743A67070F98BE73A37026C3DC9 at deqex01.deq.local>

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

 

 

            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:

http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/NEWSCIENCE/oncompounds/phthalates/phthala

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,

Laurie

Sent: Monday, June 04, 2007 11:54 AM

To: pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us

Subject: [Pharmwaste] Rachel Was Wrong website

 

 

http://www.rachelwaswrong.org/

 

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

opinions.

 

Enjoy!

Laurie

 

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