Archive for the 'Health Scares' Category

EPA’s desperate new smog scare

January 14, 2011

A new study reports that people can suffer lung damage from ground-level ozone (smog) even at the strict new standards proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But this is yet another example of how science can be manufactured by EPA to fit its regulatory agenda.

Last month, the EPA delayed finalizing its proposed ozone standards, supposedly pending completion of a scientific review. This was the third delay for the rules which the agency hoped to have in place last August.

Although the Bush administration EPA had tightened the ozone standard to 75 parts per billion (ppb) in 2008, the Obama EPA proposed in January 2010 to further tighten the standard to between 60 to 70 ppb. But this proposal is quite controversial as its underlying science is questionable, and it would be very expensive and inconvenient to implement and comply with. And unlike the case of greenhouse gas regulation where EPA has successfully divided the big business community, businesses are united against these rules and so have been able to exert sufficient pressure on the White House to cause the Obama EPA to hiccup — a remarkable occurrence.

But the ever-resourceful EPA and its long-time partner-in-junk science, the American Lung Association, rushed to publication a new study that purports to show that the proposed standards may not be tight enough. (Aside from its publication in an ideologically friendly journal, the study was still in Word document format, as opposed to journal format, when it was released).

Although the study has not been reported in the mainstream media yet, the EPA/ALA has fed it to the agency-friendly trade press. As alarmingly reported by Energy and Environment News:

Healthy young adults can suffer lung damage at the lowest level of ozone pollution being studied by U.S. EPA as the agency prepares stricter limits on smog, according to new research that was touted today by public health groups.

Published today in the American Journal of Respiratory and Clinical Care Medicine, the study provides the strongest evidence yet that most of the U.S. population is being exposed to dangerous air pollution, the American Lung Association said.

“This study provides even greater evidence for a stronger ozone standard to protect the public from the nation’s most widespread air pollutant,” said Norman Edelman, the American Lung Association’s chief medical officer, in a statement. “Ozone today remains a threat that we need all the tools in the Clean Air Act to combat.”

Contrary to the above-captioned claims, however, the only thing this study proves is that scientific study should be removed from the EPA.

EPA researchers had 59 healthy young adults (ages 19-35) exercise in a zero ppb ozone chamber and, a week or so later, had them exercise again in a 60ppb ozone chamber. Study subjects spent 6.6 hours in the chamber each time, engaging in 50 minutes of exercise (alternating bike/run) with a 10-minute break per hour. Spirometry measurements (forced expiratory volume at one second, FEV1, and forced vital capacity, FVC) were taken before and after the chamber exposures.

Here are the results. When exposed to 60 ppb ozone while biking/running for 6.6 hours, study subjects had a statistically significant mean decline in FEV1 of about 1.75 percent and a decline in FVC of about 1.19 percent more than when exercising in zero ppb ozone.

Do these results matter? Are the reported reductions in FEV1 and FVC meaningful? From a clinical perspective, no. Changes in FEV1 and FVC are clinically important at levels ranging from 15-20 percent — not 1-2 percent.

Underscoring the meaninglessness of the changes allegedly “measured” is that spirometry is not so precise that such small changes can be reliably detected and attributed to anything other than how hard the subjects inhaled and exhaled. It’s interesting to note, for example, that the results inexplicably differed for men and women. The margins of error reported for the men indicate the ironic possibility, in fact, that the 60 ppb exposure may actually have increased their FEV1 and FVC. Since this is not likely to have happened, the explanation must lie in the unreliability of the spirometry.

Moreover, the study subjects were likely exposed to much higher levels of ozone than the researchers say they were. As air quality expert Joel Schwartz pointed out in his 2007 book Air Quality in America (AEI Press), the ozone doses used in the laboratory studies are based on ambient concentrations measured by monitors, rather than real personal exposures. But as it turns out,

… [the] ozone concentrations measured at the ambient monitors used to determine Clean Air Act compliance are much higher—at least 65 percent higher, on average—than the concentrations in the air people actually breathe in. Several factors contribute to the discrepancy between monitored ozone levels and personal exposures. Ambient monitors are often placed several feet above typical human head-height to avoid interferences from people and surfaces near the ground. However, ozone deposition on surfaces (such as clothing or the ground) reduces the levels in the air that people actually breathe in. Levels also tend to be lower near roads, due to destruction by nitric oxide emitted by vehicles. Finally, there is evidence that the equipment used for regulatory monitoring gives ozone readings that might be biased high.

So although the EPA researchers claim the study subjects were exposed to 60 ppb ozone, that level equates to about 92 ppb measured by an outdoor monitor measuring ambient ozone — a level that is 22 percent higher than the existing standard set by the Bush administration and more than 50 percent higher than the tightest level proposed by the Obama administration.

Schwartz also observed that,

In addition to using personal exposures that are too high, laboratory studies also use “background” ozone exposures that are too low. To determine the health effects of ozone, researchers compare subjects’ lung function while breathing ozone with their lung function while breathing “clean” air—that is, air representing some background exposure level. All studies to date have used ozone-free air for this background level. This too is unrealistic, because there is always some natural background ozone in air due to natural emissions of ozone-forming pollutants from vegetation, lightning, and occasional transport of ozone to ground level from the stratosphere. Some ozone and ozone-forming pollutants are also transported into the United States from other countries. This background level of ozone is a matter of controversy, but it is certainly not zero.

But does the science really matter? Isn’t ground-level ozone (aka smog) just bad? And shouldn’t we do everything possible to live in a zero-smog world?

To put the EPA’s new non-results in context, consider what economist Donald Norman, PhD. of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI estimates will be the costs of tightening the ozone standard to 60 ppb:

… the annual cost of attaining a standard of 60 ppb would be $1.013 trillion between 2020 and 2030, equivalent to 5.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020. The present value of attainment costs over this period amounts to $7.1 trillion based on a discount rate of 7 percent.

Norman’s other key findings include:

  • GDP would be reduced by $676.8 billion in 2020 (in 2010 dollars), an amount that represents 3.6 percent of projected 2020 GDP in the baseline case (2.5 percent annual GDP growth);
  • Total U.S. job losses attributable to a 60 ppb ozone standard are estimated to rise to 7.3 million by 2020, a figure equal to 4.3 percent of the projected 2020 labor force;
  • Job jeopardy and the impacts of a 60 ppb ozone standard are largest in states where there is considerable manufacturing and refining activity. The states with the largest job losses include: Texas, which would lose nearly 1.7 million jobs at a total attainment cost and reduction in GDP of $452 billion (in 2010 dollars); Louisiana, which would lose 983,000 jobs at a cost of $270 billion; California, which would lose 846,000 jobs at a cost of $210 billion; Illinois, which would lose 396,000 jobs at a cost of $98 billion; and Pennsylvania, which would lose 351,000 jobs at a cost of $86 billion;
  • Together, annual attainment costs and reduced GDP in 2020 would total $1.7 trillion…

Should we sacrifice millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to improve U.S. public health by precisely zero?

In a March 1992 report by a blue ribbon panel of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, Safeguarding the Future: Credible Science, Credible Decisions, the agency was warned not to adjust science to fit policy.

But 19 years later, the agency has yet to embrace this advice. It’s doubtful that EPA ever will on its own. The solution is for Congress to remove the scientific research function from the EPA and put it someplace where it’s less susceptible to politicization.

Ohio EPA’s Cancer Scare

January 7, 2011

By Steve Milloy
January 7, 2011,

As if there’s not enough to be worried about already, the Ohio EPA just reported that residents in seven Ohio counties face a great than acceptable risk of cancer from air pollution.

Based on air monitoring data, the Ohio EPA reported that cancer risks ranged from 1.01 additional cancers per 10,000 people in Scioto County to 2.1 additional cancers per 10,000 people in Columbiana County.

But these claims are specious and the scare is irresponsible.

First, even accepting for the sake of argument the dubious notion that the low levels of exposure to the metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at issue actually increase cancer risk, people should be aware of the insignificance of the risk.

Like it or not, about 44 percent of all men and 37 percent of all women will develop some sort of cancer during their lifetimes. This means that of every 10,000 men and women, about 4,000 will develop cancer over their lifetime.

If what the Ohio EPA claimed were true, the 4,000-estimate would increase to perhaps 4,002 — an insignificant and undetectable change that would be lost in the margin of error.

But then, that’s only if there is a real cancer risk from the exposures at issues — and that is doubtful.

There are no scientific studies of human populations showing that typical exposures to the ambient concentrations of the metals and VOCs at issue have ever caused anyone’s cancer risk.

So what the Ohio EPA did was to rely on the U.S. EPA’s risk assessment methodologies — a very dubious proposition.

In the mid 1990s on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, I led a comprehensive study of the EPA’s risk assessment practices – none of which have changed in any significant way since that time.

We found that in the face of omnipresent gaps and uncertainties in scientific knowledge and data, the EPA employs assumptions that are usually not science-based.

In deciding whether or not to label a chemical as potentially causing cancer, for example, the EPA typically relies on laboratory studies in which cancer-susceptible rodents are virtually poisoned with unrealistically high doses of the chemical. If the rodents then exhibit increased rates of cancer, however slight, then the EPA assumes that the same thing will happen in humans.

But mice are not little people. They metabolize chemicals differently than humans — a fact that the EPA only grudgingly admits once in a while when researchers have gone to great effort and expense to make the point as they did, for example, in the case of unleaded gasoline.

The Ohio EPA calculated make-believe, not actual cancer risks. Its cancer alarmism relies on presumptuous assumptions that are scientifically indefensible.

The dirty secret that America’s environmental establishment doesn’t want to acknowledge, much less publicize, is that our air is clean and safe. We are now in an era of ever-vanishingly small returns from ever-increasing environmental regulation.

American manufacturing is on the decline and jobs are going overseas. While there are many reasons for this phenomenon, they include excessive environmental regulation.

Sure the Ohio EPA can tighten its air quality regulations and write more stringent permits to reduce the hypothetical cancer risks to “acceptable levels,” but at some point, employers will say enough is enough and simply move on to more welcoming jurisdictions.

Do Ohioans really want its government to chase away jobs for no good reason, and then be terrorized with baseless cancer scares to boot?

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).

GE sued (more) over PCB clean-up

January 6, 2011

Poor, General Electric. The EPA makes the company spend hundreds of millions of dollars dredging the Hudson River to remove sediment-bound PCBs — something which everyone knew would stir-up the otherwise safely entombed chemical — and now the company is being sued for just that consequence.

According to CBS-6 (Albany),

SARATOGA — The Saratoga County Water Authority has filed a federal lawsuit against General Electric, seeking $27 million for the damages it says it incurred trying to avoid PCBs during GE’s dredging project in the Hudson River.

Law firm Dreyer Boyajian LLP said Thursday the Water Authority had to spend $27 million building a water treatment plant in the town of Moreau in order to stay upriver of the General Electric plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward plants and the PCB dredging project.

SCWA said the move was necessary to avoid possible PCB contamination in their water, as GE continues to dredge up the contaminants in a massive $500 million clean-up project.

PCBs are classified as the EPA as probably human carcinogens, associated with adverse effects on reproductive, endocrine, and immunological function.

Several town and villages within Saratoga County have already filed their own suits against GE for the damages and costs related to the PCB dredging project.

As this blog pointed out in August 2009,

Chalk up another green disaster, courtesy of:

  • RFK Jr, Planetary Zero. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and his activist group Riverkeeper pressured GE to undertake the clean-up. Ironically, Time magazine had declared Kennedy one of its “Heroes of the Planet” for his Hudson River activism.
  • Corporate Neville Chamberlain-ism. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt who, in hopes of appeasing the greens, reversed former CEO Jack Welch’s policy against dredging; and.
  • Your gooberment at work. The EPA, which in forcing GE to dredge sediments that should have been left alone, failed its eponymous mission — environmental protection.

EPA’s Mercurial Hypocrisy

January 3, 2011

How cynical is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about the potential mercury hazard of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)?

Last week the EPA issued new guidance for the clean-up of mercury-containing CFLs.

Atypically minimizing any potential health risks and arrogantly assuming that people patronize the agency’s web site, the EPA’s media release states,

CFLs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a CFL breaks, some of the mercury is released as vapor and may pose potential health risks. The guidance and brochure will provide simple, user friendly directions to help prevent and reduce exposure to people from mercury pollution. [Emphasis added]

But consider that EPA’s “Mercury and Hazardous Chemicals in Schools: A Manual for Students in Southeast Asia” (April 2008) states that:

Just as there are no safe uses of mercury and mercury-containing equipment in schools, there are no safe uses for these products in homes, either. Tell your parents about the toxic effects of mercury, and encourage them to remove all mercury products from your home.

Also consider that EPA says that eating the mercury from a broken thermometer is safer than inhaling mercury vapor (i.e., how you would be exposed to mercury from a broken CFL):

It is not uncommon for children to break fever thermometers in their mouths. Mercury that is swallowed in such cases poses low risk comparison [sic] to the risk of breathing mercury vapor.

Consider what Brown University researchers had to say in an August 2008 study of CFL breakage published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology:

Some [CFL] lamps are inevitably broken accidentally during shipping, retail sales, consumer use, and recycling and release a portion of their mercury inventory as volatile vapor, which is the dominant mercury form in the early stages of lamp life. Inhalation exposure is a concern because 80% of inhaled [mercury] is physiologically absorbed.

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) occupational exposure limit (8 h, 5-day week time average) is 100 [micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3)].
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended exposure limit is 50 μg/m3, while American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists recommends 25 μg/m3 under the same conditions.
  • Because children are more susceptible, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) recommends 0.2 μg/m3 level as a safe continual exposure limit for children.

As an illustration of the effects of CFL breakage, the release of only 1 mg of [mercury] vapor (~20% of the Hg inventory in a single CFL) into a 500 m3 room (10 × 10 × 5m) yields 2.0 μg/m3 or ten times the ATSDR-recommended level of 0.2 μg/m3 in the absence of ventilation. [Footnotes omitted, and bullets and emphasis added]

So how much mercury was released into the air when these researchers fractured CFLs in their study? According to the Brown researchers,

The release is initially rapid producing vapor concentrations from 200−800 μg/m3 during the first hour, which far exceed the OSHA occupational limits.

And if you go to EPA’s IRIS data base, you’ll see that the EPA’s Reference Concentration (RfC or permissible exposure via inhalation) for elemental mercury is 0.3 μg/m3. Note that the reported 200-800 μg/m3 air concentrations upon bulb breakage are somewhat greater  than the EPA’s RfC (by 667 to 2,667 times to be precise).

The EPA promotes the safety of CFLs  in order to advance its jihad against greenhouse gases. The agency would apparently rather have you and/or your children exposed to possibly thousands of times more mercury than the agency itself deems safe than to have you use an incandescent bulb and emit an ounce or so more of CO2 per hour of bulb use.

Were CFLs not useful in the EPA’s cause —  let’s say they were just a funny looking light bulb sold as a novelty item — there can be little doubt that the agency would have long ago taken action to ban them as needlessly unsafe. The agency has stated, after all, “there are no safe uses for mercury-containing products] in homes” and children should tell their parents “to remove” them from homes.

Would you rather be exposed to possibly thousands of more times mercury than the EPA says is safe or....

... or would you rather have your power plant emit an extra ounce or so of carbon dioxide per hour of bulb use?

One common requirement for science, law and government to function as intended is consistency. Exposure to low levels of mercury is either safe or it is not. But the EPA wants it both ways, depending on the purpose being served.

In the realm of federal regulation, this sort of hypocrisy would seem to be proscribed by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) as “arbitrary and capricious.” When the APA was enacted in 1946, then-Nevada Sen. Pat McCarran called it “a bill of rights for the hundreds of thousands of Americans whose affairs are controlled or regulated in one way or another by agencies of the Federal Government.”

But since there is typically no meaningful way for anyone to enforce that law against the EPA, it is a mere vestige of Congress’ post-New Deal efforts to make the burgeoning federal bureaucracy accountable to the people that pay for, and are impacted by it.

Maybe that accountability is something that the 112th Congress, which begins this week, can begin to reinstate.

EWG pulls an ‘Erin Crockovich’

December 19, 2010

Group funds ‘Erin Brockvich’ chemical in D.C., Bethesda Water” was this morning’s scary Washington Post headline. The comrades at the Environmental Working Group reportedly found hexavalent chromium (Cr-6) in drinking water across the country at levels up to 200 times greater than the goal proposed by California (0.06 ppb). Cr-6 reportedly is associated with increased cancer risk in laboratory mice.

Before you swear off tap water, run to your doctor, join a class action lawsuit or do anything other than simply roll on the floor laughing at Ken Kook and his fellow EWG Krazies, here’s a few things to consider:

  1. Outside of a hotly disputed study of a 1970s-era Chinese population, epidemiologic studies have not associated Cr-6 exposure with increased risk of cancer. Even the EPA acknowledges this (See p. 207 of April 2010 EPA review document). Then there’s this comment from a review of the Cr-6 epidemiology:

    The weight of scientific evidence supports that Cr-6 is not carcinogenic in humans via the oral route of exposure at permissible drinking-water concentrations. [J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2002 May 24;65(10):701-46.]

  2. Mice are not little people. So who cares whether lab mice poisoned with Cr-6 got cancer or did cartwheels?
  3. No violations of the EPA drinking water standard for chromium were reported. While there are no specific drinking water standards for Cr-6, the EPA oral reference dose (RfD) for Cr-6, which includes a monster safety factor of 300, is way above the levels of Cr-6 detected by EWG.
  4. The proposed California standard for Cr-6 is not science-based.
  5. The EWG specializes in efforts to scare people about the mere presence of chemicals and metals in drinking water. The group seems to be impervious to Paracelsus’ 450-year-old basic toxicology principle that “the dose makes the poison.”
  6. Reporter Lyndsey Layton is apparently the radical environmental movement’s new stenographer at the Washington Post, following in the embarrassing tradition of Juliet Eilperin, Joby Warrick, Gary Lee and others. Layton is also assisting the left in its jihad against bisphenol A (BPA).

So that just about covers it for EWG’s hexavalent chromium scare — junk science manufactured by radical leftists and trumpeted by a media stooge.

Surgeon General Jumps the Shark

December 12, 2010

By Steve Milloy

Let’s all thank Surgeon General Regina Benjamin for demonstrating beyond all doubt last week that nannyism is more dangerous than smoking.

The Office of the Surgeon General just released a report claiming that a single puff of a cigarette or a single inhalation of secondhand smoke can permanently damage one’s health and perhaps lead to death. Now we know what all those blindfolded condemned men given one last puff as they stood before firing squads really died from.

While no one disputes that too much smoking is unhealthy, the new report demonizing any smoking or even incidental exposure to secondhand smoke is clearly over the top.

Certainly any exposure to tobacco smoke will have some sort of a discernible physiological effect — just like virtually every sensory experience. But Benjamin asserts that even one of those physiological events, however transient and reversible, can cause harm and possibly even lead to death. As commonsense and everyday experience informs (most of) us, this is ridiculous.

So how does Benjamin back up her assertions? Well, she really doesn’t.

The report contains the usual set of epidemiologic studies showing that smokers tend to be less healthy and die earlier than nonsmokers. None of this is news, though it should be noted that these studies often fail to isolate tobacco as the cause of the adverse health outcome as opposed to the entire suite of unhealthy behaviors that smokers tend to have – i.e., smokers tend to be heavier drinkers, have poorer diets, get less exercise, lead more stressful lives, and have less education and income than nonsmokers.

The report contains not a single example of anyone who had incidental or limited contact with tobacco smoke and then experienced an adverse health outcome or death.

“Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease and could trigger acute cardiac events like heart attack,” avers the Surgeon General’s media release. It’s a scary statement, but it’s not one supported by any real-world evidence of that happening despite the billions of people who have been so exposed over the centuries.

Supporting Benjamin with an op-ed in the Washington Post Also was former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw who recalled and lamented the smoking-related death of his father: “After 50 years of smoking unfiltered cigarettes, my father died, too young, of a massive heart attack. He was 69. It’s almost certain that all those years of nicotine inhalation were a major contributor to his clogged arteries.”

What is more than almost certain is the fact that, although Brokaw’s father was such a long-term and presumably heavy smoker, he surpassed the life expectancy for his birth year (1912) by about 14 years — not bad for someone actually permitted the dignity to make his own lifestyle decisions.

Like many, if not most people, I don’t care for smoking or inhaling anyone else’s tobacco smoke. That said I’m more concerned about the all-too-common and wanton disregard of facts and the misuse of science and statistics, especially by those in positions of power and prominence.

Today’s lifestyle nannies, aided by a gullible and scientifically illiterate media, feel at liberty to demonize any behavior or substance, and to tread upon any and all individual liberties without regard for the relevant facts. Making the situation worse is that the nannies have few vocal opponents, as they stand ready to demonize and ostracize anyone who dares speak up against their junk science.

The two most significant advances of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were the development of science and the realization of individual liberty as an intrinsic right. Surgeon General Benjamin’s report is a clear sign that both are on the downswing of history.

Steve Milloy is the publisher of and the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).

Junk science machine attacks BPA

November 4, 2010

By Steve Milloy
November 4, 2010,

Radical environmentalists and unscrupulous profiteers have put together a perpetual junk science machine in hopes of driving the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) to extinction. That machine includes a gullible/sympathetic media that hopes to get away with telling the public only part of the story. Consider a Nov. 2 report by Science News’ Janet Raloff, “Skin is no barrier to BPA study shows; Finding suggests store receipts could be significant source of exposures.”

Raloff starts her story by quoting the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Frederick vom Saal (more on him later), who says that

“The new study [by Daniel Zalko et al. and published in Chemosphere] is now unequivocal in showing that yes, BPA can go through human skin.”

While no one disputes that some BPA can be absorbed through the skin, the question is how much and is this harmful?

As Zalko admits in his study, BPA is metabolized to highly water soluble metabolites that are known to be estrogen inactive. This downplayed fact is, of course, devastating to the underlying scare, which relies on the hypothesis that absorbed BPA acts like an estrogen.

To get around this problem, Raloff obliquely acknowledges it by stating,

“Though such transformations are often assumed to render a chemical nontoxic…”

She then offers a naked claim by Zalko in contradiction:

“’that would be a false assumption,’ Zalko says, ‘because any compound that has been conjugated can be deconjugated’.”

But while Zalko claims that these metabolites can be converted back into BPA in the body, this is pure speculation (wishful thinking?) on his part as there is no data to support the claim.

Raloff then tells us that,

The role of metabolites in BPA’s potential toxicity is complicated, vom Saal says, because the body can — and regularly does — conjugate and deconjugate compounds. “It’s well known,” for instance, “that the body is full of desulfating enzymes, which play a role regulating estrogen levels during pregnancy.”

There is no doubt that the body is full of many chemicals that have a variety of roles — but there remains no evidence that the body converts any non-estrogenic BPA metabolites back into BPA.

Raloff’s article then goes on to discuss another earlier Zalko study involving application of BPA to the ears of dead pigs. Zalko reports that after three days, more than half of the applied BPA diffused through the skins of the pig ears.

But who cares about how much BPA can be absorbed by the ears of dead pigs? We have data from real human beings. As pointed out on this blog earlier:

A June 2010 study published in the journal Annals of Bioanalysis and Chemistry by Swiss food regulators reported that a person repeatedly touching thermal printer paper for 10 hours/day, such as at a cash register, would absorb 42 times less BPA than permitted by current safety regulations, which already have a very significant margin of safety. No workers or consumers would normally be exposed to even such infinitesimal amounts.

A February 2010 study from the University of Zurich’s Centre for Xenobiotic Risk Research reported that, “Dermal absorption (that is, absorption through the skin), is therefore at most a secondary absorption route for bisphenol A. The primary absorption route is still dietary intake. For this route, daily total amounts of bisphenol A around 10,000 times higher are considered harmless for adults.”

Raloff relies heavily on vom Saal to validate Zalko’s claims and insinuations. But she omits mention of two salient facts about vom Saal:

  1. He is a long-time and reality-free advocate against BPA; and
  2. His scientific claims against BPA have not been replicated by independent scientists.

Raloff concludes her article by pointing out that Appleton Papers is poised to rush to market BPA-free receipt paper for the upcoming holiday season. No doubt Raloff’s Science News hatchet-job will accompany Appleton’s marketing pitches — a perfect accompaniment as it contains not a single skeptical or dissenting voice.

BPA may be targeted for extinction but here’s why the rest of us ought not let that happen.

BPA is the test case for the bogus theory of endocrine disrupters. If the radical greens get away with destroying BPA’s reputation based on that never-validated hypothesis, they will proceed to use that scam against a host of other chemicals. The battle for BPA is not really about BPA. It’s about whether we will use science or circuses to determine chemical safety.

For more on BPA, check out

BPA, semen quality study is Chinese junk

October 28, 2010

By Steve Milloy
October 28, 2010,

A Kaiser Permanente-sponsored study of 514 Chinese workers reports that urinary levels of chemical bisphenol A (BPA) were associated with decreased sperm concentration, total sperm count, sperm vitality and sperm motility. The study was published in the journal of Fertility and Sterility. It may as well have been published in the journal of Futility and Stupidity.

First, the statistical associations are quite dubious. None of the reported associations between urinary BPA levels and semen quality are statistically significant. None of the p-values were reported, so it can be presumed that they all exceed the standard significance requirement of P =< 0.05. The confidence intervals (i.e., margins of error) are all quite wide — i.e., 160-200+% greater than the size of the reported association.

Next, the statistical associations were supposedly adjusted for age, education, history of chronic disease, previous history of exposure to other chemicals and metals, employment history, marital status, age at first intercourse, smoking, drinking and study site. But all these “data” were self-reported by the workers and the researchers made no effort to verify or validate any of it. Assuming for the sake of argument, for example, that smoking, drinking, and “exposure to other chemicals and metals” are true confounding factors for semen quality, no information was collected on the levels of such exposures. No doubt there are many other risk factors for reduced semen quality, but they weren’t considered. The researchers claim that study subjects complied with a 7-day sexual abstinence requirement but how certain can they be?

Also, the study population was not randomly selected. Of the 888 workers eligible to participate, only 514 did. Were these 514 the less healthy ones who opted for a free medical exam?

This effort was not designed or conducted so as to study the relationship of BPA exposure to semen quality. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t.

BPA has been used for more than 50 years with no real-world indication that it has ever harmed anyone. That’s why the anti-chemcial activists are forced to stoop to the depths of such junk science.

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).

For more on BPA, check out’s Debunkosaurus.

Activists are dangerous, not BPA

October 26, 2010

By Steve Milloy
October 27, 2010 GreenHellBlog

A new study from Sweden reports that “cash receipts could be a major source of exposure to the long-used but newly controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA).”

Study author Tomas Östberg of the Swedish Jegrelius Institute reported in early October that receipts he analyzed contained an average of around 1.4 percent BPA. Östberg then leapt to the conclusion that, “Because there is a risk that this may be a health hazard, the use of thermal paper that contains bisphenol A should be minimized.” News of the study was picked up by European media, including the Stuttgarter Zeitung (Oct. 16), which advised readers in a headline to “Steer clear of receipts.”

Östberg’s study, however, is a long way from constituting evidence that cash receipts present any sort of risk to workers or consumers.

First, as Östberg obliquely admits, it is not at all certain that BPA presents any sort of health risk at all, even if it is present in receipts, albeit to a very small degree. It is important to keep in mind that BPA has been used commercially for more than 50 years, and despite all that use and exposure, there are no published scientific studies or reports of workers or consumers being actually harmed by BPA.

Though BPA has become the subject of much controversy recently, that has mainly been due to unsubstantiated claims of BPA being a so-called “endocrine disrupter” at low doses. None of these claims have been verified, validated or vindicated and only continue to resound because of constant repetition by anti-chemical activist groups and a sympathetic-to-ignorant news media. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority deem BPA to be perfectly safe at existing exposure levels.

Östberg’s study merely exploits the ongoing BPA controversy by reporting the presence of BPA in receipts — as if the existence of controversy makes BPA’s presence in receipts dangerous.

Östberg fails to mention two recent studies that essentially debunk his own. It’s not important that receipts contain BPA so much as how much of the BPA is typically absorbed from handling them.

A June 2010 study published in the journal Annals of Bioanalysis and Chemistry by Swiss food regulators reported that a person repeatedly touching thermal printer paper for 10 hours/day, such as at a cash register, would absorb 42 times less BPA than permitted by current safety regulations, which already have a very significant margin of safety. No workers or consumers would normally be exposed to even such infinitesimal amounts.

A February 2010 study from the University of Zurich’s Centre for Xenobiotic Risk Research reported that, “Dermal absorption (that is, absorption through the skin), is therefore at most a secondary absorption route for bisphenol A. The primary absorption route is still dietary intake. For this route, daily total amounts of bisphenol A around 10,000 times higher are considered harmless for adults.”

What can we conclude from these scientific studies? It is quite clear that the BPA-in-receipts controversy is just another scare contrived by anti-chemical activists.

But why not simply short-circuit the controversy and replace BPA with another chemical as some have tried with so-called “BPA-free” receipts?

Aside from the fact that BPA-free receipts are more expensive, while providing no discernible health or safety benefits, there is the issue of allowing anti-chemical activists to get away with using junk science and fear to smear a perfectly safe technology. Few chemicals have been as heavily scrutinized as BPA, after all, and still there is no direct evidence indicating it poses any risk to health whatsoever.

BPA is a test case for the activists. If they get away with establishing vanishingly small exposures to BPA as a health hazard, they will use the precedent to systematically eliminate other beneficial chemicals from society on an arbitrary basis. In the US, class action lawsuits involving BPA asking for billions of dollars in compensatory damages have already been filed.

Chemicals have helped give western society the highest and healthiest standard of living it has ever enjoyed. We have regulatory systems that ensure these chemicals are used safely. Those proven safeguards should not be abandoned in favor of wild allegations from irresponsible activists whose agenda is not to educate the public, but to cause maximal alarm and fear, to undermine public confidence in the regulatory process — and to make money for themselves.

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).

For more debunking of BPA scares, please visit’s Debunkosaurus.