Category Archives: Chemophobia

Stirring up fluoride scares again

Fluoride safety debate bubbles up once again
Wendy Koch

Consumers hearing that some U.S. communities will no longer add fluoride to their drinking water, such as Florida’s Pinellas County, may wonder whether this cavity fighter is safe.

The short answer: Most health professionals say yes, as long as people don’t ingest too much of it.

Studies in the 1930s found tooth decay was less severe in areas with more fluoride in drinking water, prompting U.S. communities to add it to their water.

Yet the Obama administration is moving to lower its recommended amount in drinking water as newer research shows high levels can cause tooth and bone damage. (USA TODAY)

Marla Conehead discovers there’s, like, chemicals, in the earth’s crust – and they can be found in well water, too!

It’s elemental: Many private wells across U.S. are contaminated with arsenic and other elements
Marla Cone

In Nebraska, along the Platte River, it’s uranium. In Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, it’s arsenic. In California, boron. And in the Texas Panhandle, lithium. Throughout the nation, metals and other elements are tainting private drinking water wells at concentrations that pose a health concern. For one element – manganese – contamination is so widespread that water wells with excessive levels are found in all but just a few states. Arsenic, too, is a national problem, scattered in every region. In the first national effort to monitor well water for two dozen trace elements, geologists have discovered that 13 percent of untreated drinking water contains at least one element at a concentration that exceeds federal health regulations or guidelines. That rate far outpaces other contaminants, including industrial chemicals and pesticides. The most troubling finding involves the widespread contamination of private wells, which are unmonitored and unregulated. (EHN)

Misanthropic loons still trying to stifle crop development

Note the misinformation like “terminator technology” – hybrid seeds are generally infertile or revert to base stock after one generation – either way high-productivity hybrids are not suitable for seed saving, something which has absolutely nothing to do with biotechnology. Yes, some work was done to prevent illegal use of proprietary technology (like copy protection on music, videos and/or software that people shouldn’t but do steal – the same kind of thing that built the profits used for philanthropy by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ;-) ).

Either way “Big Agro” is the only way 9 billion people are going to be adequately fed on planet Earth, something farmer’s markets and superstitions like “organics” simply can not achieve. Retro nostalgia and primitive agriculture just won’t do the job. You could harvest between the ears of every greenie on the planet but you just won’t find enough crap to grow food for the current 7 billion population without using synthetic fertilizers and higher productivity crop plants. Get over it.

Battle Escalates Against Genetically Modified Crops
By Kanya D’Almeida

WASHINGTON, Oct 1, 2011 (IPS) – Home to a fast-growing network of farmers’ markets, cooperatives and organic farms, but also the breeding ground for mammoth for-profit corporations that now hold patents to over 50 percent of the world’s seeds, the United States is weathering a battle between Big Agro and a ripening movement for food justice and security.

Conflicting ideologies about agriculture have become ground zero for this war over the production, distribution and consumption of the world’s food.

One camp – led by agro giants like Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta – define successful agriculture and hunger alleviation as the use of advanced technologies to stimulate yields of mono-crops.

The other side argues that industrial agriculture pollutes, destroys and disrupts nature by dismissing the importance of relationships necessary for any ecosystem to thrive.

At the heart of this struggle is the debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which were given the green light in 1990 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated, “(We) are not aware of any information showing that GMO foods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way.” (IPS)

Oh yes, that wonderfully “successful” and totally pointless Montreal Protocol

  • Should you care? No
  • Does this indicate anything other than a cold Northern winter? No
  • Is the “ozone layer” stable at any time? No (see “That ‘ozone depletion’ thing
  • Do fluctuating stratospheric ozone levels indicate “loss”? No
  • Is this of any significance to humanity or the environment whatsoever? No
  • Is this just another “People bad, industry bad, chemicals bad” scam from misanthropes and would-be controllers of everything? You betcha!

NASA Leads Study Of Unprecedented Arctic Ozone Loss

WASHINGTON — A NASA-led study has documented an unprecedented depletion of Earth’s protective ozone layer above the Arctic last winter and spring caused by an unusually prolonged period of extremely low temperatures in the stratosphere.

The study, published online Sunday in the journal Nature, finds the amount of ozone destroyed in the Arctic in 2011 was comparable to that seen in some years in the Antarctic, where an ozone “hole” has formed each spring since the mid 1980s. The stratospheric ozone layer, extending from about 10 to 20 miles (15 to 35 kilometers) above the surface, protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

The Antarctic ozone hole forms when extremely cold conditions, common in the winter Antarctic stratosphere, trigger reactions that convert atmospheric chlorine from human-produced chemicals into forms that destroy ozone. The same ozone-loss processes occur each winter in the Arctic. However, the generally warmer stratospheric conditions there limit the area affected and the time frame during which the chemical reactions occur, resulting in far less ozone loss in most years in the Arctic than in the Antarctic. (NASA News)

Apparently it’s ‘safer’ to let people burn

Another ‘detectable trace presence must equal massive harm’ waste of space. Hydrocarbon-based foam and plastic products are hygienic and safe. To make them safer still flame retardants are used. The alternative to our exposure to traces of synthesized compounds is exposure to much more of the truly toxic products of moulds, pathogens and pests which make up our natural environment. Curiously, the chemical hand wringers neglect to mention that the more synthetic Man’s environment has become the longer we live relatively disease-free lives. Constructed dwellings are better than dank caves, mattresses an improvement on a pile of grass and animal furs and so on. In the same vein, trivial exposure to flame retardants would seem distinctly preferable to burning to death. Some people appear to have very strange definitions of “unsafe”.

Are Flame Retardants Safe? Growing Evidence Says ‘No’
Elizabeth Grossman

New studies have underscored the potentially harmful health effects of the most widely used flame retardants, found in everything from baby blankets to carpets. Health experts are now calling for more aggressive action to limit these chemicals, including cutting back on highly flammable, petroleum-based materials used in many consumer products. (e360)

Ooh! Lookout, there’s chemicals in stuff!

SciAm has chosen to run a patently absurd chemical scare piece. What they neglect to mention is that the hapless “Susan” has placed her fetus at greater risk from the exertion of jogging than from any and all of the “toxins” cited, excepted perhaps the herbal tea. How? By raising the temperature of the early developing fetus she risks malformation (commonly cleft [hare] lip and/or cleft palate), although she’d either have to be grossly unfit or pushing herself excessively to cause such a temperature increase. The herbal tea is more of a worry having basically zero quality control and largely unknown constituents. Epic fail from SciAm.

Toxins All around Us
Exposure to the chemicals in everyday objects poses a hidden health threat
By Patricia Hunt

Susan starts her day by jogging to the edge of town, cutting back through a cornfield for an herbal tea at the downtown Starbucks and heading home for a shower. It sounds like a healthy morning routine, but Susan is in fact exposing herself to a rogue’s gallery of chemicals: pesticides and herbicides on the corn, plasticizers in her tea cup, and the wide array of ingredients used to perfume her soap and enhance the performance of her shampoo and moisturizer. Most of these exposures are so low as to be considered trivial, but they are not trivial at all—especially considering that Susan is six weeks pregnant. (SciAm)

EU anti chemical madness causing yet more problems

EU ban on bracken pesticide is blasted
Scott Kirk

A EUROPEAN Union ban on a pesticide to control bracken has been criticised by leading conservation charities.

Millions of pounds has been spent removing bracken from the Lake District fells because it is a haven for disease carrying ticks, which can spread Lyme disease to humans and Louping Ill to grouse and sheep.

Bracken has spread significantly during recent years sometimes at the expense of other plants and wildlife.

The most effective weapon against it has been a pesticide called Asulam, which targets just the bracken, leaving other vegetation free to grow.

It has been used for decades, but was banned by the EU’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health over concerns about its safety when used on spinach and other food crops. The EU has been re-registering pesticides to adhere to higher food standards, and Asulam failed in one of the tests. (Westmorland gazette)

Breast Cancer Fund Study: Science Or Class Warfare?

Breast Cancer Fund Study: Science Or Class Warfare?
Trevor Butterworth

As I’ve noted here on Forbes, the mainstream media has a pretty amazing knack for ignoring key research when there’s a controversy. So, this summer, we’ve seen a whole series of important studies on the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) come and go with next to no coverage, even though the subject has, up until now, generated hundreds of news stories.

Oh, wait, do you think it might be because the studies found that there was no risk? Hmmh… let me think about that for a moment.

Continue reading

Trevor Butterworth: Why You Should Trust The FDA (And Not Dr. Oz)

Why You Should Trust The FDA (And Not Dr. Oz)
Trevor Butterworth

If the reaction in the news media to Dr. Oz’s absurd claims about the dangers of arsenic in apple juice has been enormously heartening (essentially the media’s collective “Dr. Oz says this, but the FDA says that” narrative leaves the celebrity cardiothoracic surgeon looking like an unscrupulous and unethical quack), the disheartening part is that too many people will still choose to believe a television doctor who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow in terms of chemistry, over the massed ranks of PhD’s and toxicologists at the Food and Drug Administration.

This abysmal state of affairs was summed up by some fool on The View mouthing off about how we all should be grateful that Dr. Oz is looking out for our kids – as if the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent on a vast array of regulatory agencies simply didn’t occur. (Forbes)

Jon Entine: Styrene in the Crosshairs: Competing Standards Confuse Public, Regulators

Styrene in the Crosshairs: Competing Standards Confuse Public, Regulators
Jon Entine, September 14, 2011

Science v. Politics—When a popular chemical is in the regulatory crosshairs, the debate invariably passes through advocacy and industry grinders. Crusaders and apologists go head to head. Hysteria builds. Minds fog. Legislators panic. Bad regulations get passed or reasonable ones get shelved. The public loses.

It’s a stale script, but it unfolds time and again. The latest case involves styrene. While it is natural occurring, it’s also produced synthetically. It’s found in many products, including latex paints, carpet backings, bathtubs, shower stalls and most commonly as an ingredient in polystyrene containers that come in contact with food. Think Chinese take-out food.

In June, the Department of Health & Human Services’ National Toxicology Program (NTP) classified styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” in its mandated 12th report to Congress. What this listing means is very different from how it is being framed by advocacy groups and the media—and this knowledge gap threatens to wreck legislative havoc across the country. (STATS)

Asbestos industry strikes back at critics in high-stakes PR battle

Asbestos industry strikes back at critics in high-stakes PR battle
Andy Blatchford, Today, Canadian Press

MONTREAL – A prominent asbestos merchant is headed to Parliament Hill as part of a broader counter-offensive to salvage the reputation of his beleaguered industry.

Baljit Chadha is fighting back this week after Canada’s asbestos sector has absorbed a public-relations pummelling, both here and abroad, in recent months.

The public-relations battle comes at a critical time.

The Quebec government is considering whether to help Chadha save one of Canada’s last two asbestos mines, in the town of Asbestos, with an Oct. 1 deadline looming on a decision.

Chadha is now determined to dispel what he describes as myths about the contentious mineral, which he argues has been unfairly vilified by a highly organized “anti-asbestos lobby.” (The Tylee)

More chemophobic nonsense from the land of fruits and nuts

New evidence adds to case against bisphenol A

Awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature or veto is legislation (AB1319) that would ban the toxic chemical bisphenol A from baby bottles and sippy cups. BPA is a compound that mimics estrogen and has been linked to an array of hormonal and behavioral problems – including early puberty, hyperactivity, breast and prostate cancer, infertility and obesity. (SF Chronicle)

BPA: What to make of pollutant-laced kids’ foods
New study fails to place its limited data in perspective.
Janet Raloff

The San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund has just released some provocative data on the presence of bisphenol A — a hormone-mimicking pollutant — in every brand-name canned food it tested. (Science News)

The Reef! The Reef!

And so continues the wailing of our eternal disaster merchants.

The Great Barrier Reef, that great chain of islands, reefs, shoals and atolls stretching near 2,000 miles and some 40 miles wide in parts (and possessed of its own pain-in-the-butt people-hating bureaucracy operating under the acronym GBRMPA, pronounced ‘Gabroompa’), which has proven indestructible through ice age and interglacial, surviving sea level change of hundreds of feet and a current sea surface temperature span of some 10 °C, is allegedly at risk (again/still) at the puny hand of Man.

This time they are recycling the agricultural chemical scam, probably as a result of Coalition discussion papers on greatly expanding agriculture in Australia’s water-rich north through irrigation infrastructure and development.

If it’s not gorebull warbling it’s development, tourism, chemical outwash, silt, Crown-of-thorns starfish, boat anchors or space aliens (I might have made up that last one) but eternally there’s some fool crying danger to “The Reef! The Reef!”.

Silliest part of all this is that there’d be no buildup of chemicals, silting problems and far less chance of the GBR lagoon warming far enough to cause coral bleaching if we blew some decent shipping channels through the damned thing and let the Pacific flush the lagoon rather than leaving it trapped there like a stagnant puddle.

Study finds unsafe toxin levels in reef
September 22, 2011 – 1:57PM

Tests have revealed high levels of toxins at the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Supplied
The Great Barrier Reef is being contaminated by farm chemicals up to 50 times the levels deemed safe, World Wildlife Fund Australia says.

Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management scientists have found three chemicals – atrazine, diuron and metachlor – were at toxic levels exceeding national standards for contamination of freshwater ecosystems at eight sites along the Great Barrier Reef coast.

The discovery comes as the national chemical regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, considers whether to allow the continued use of diuron. (Brisbane Times)

But would people bother to smuggle poisons if effective pesticides remained on the market locally?

12 Held in Sale of Pest Poisons, One 60 Times as Potent as the Legal Limit
WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM

The investigation began with a vial of blue-green liquid. Roughly two inches tall, it came in a yellow and blue box covered with Chinese characters and, in English, the words “The cat be unemployed.”

It was rat poison, illegal and highly toxic.

The pesticide, which was apparently smuggled into the United States from China, contained one deadly ingredient in a concentration almost 61 times as great as what federal regulations allow, according to court papers. (NYT)

Assault on useful compounds and pesticides continues unabated – WaPo still enviro propaganda rag

WaPo should know but apparently does not that methyl bromide is a particularly useful soil fumigant and pesticide. Were ship’s cargo holds properly fumigated as a matter of course you likely wouldn’t have pests like the Asian Longhorn beetle in North America, for example. “Ozone depletion” is and always has been a nonsense. Check out ozone’s natural seasonality here and note that the heavily irradiated tropics rarely have as much “ozone protection” as the weakly irradiated polar regions and yet life thrives in the tropics. Even if humans did influence the seasonal change in polar stratospheric ozone levels (and there is no empirical evidence that we do) there is no known negative consequence from that. It’s just another of Ozone Al’s fabricated “emergencies”.

Golf courses hurry to use last of methyl bromide supplies before phaseout
Darryl Fears

Like other golf courses across America, the Chevy Chase Club in suburban Maryland is caught up in the ancient battle between man and weeds. The club recently informed its members of a major offensive against ugly patches of invasive grass that impede a ball’s roll toward the hole on their velvety greens.

But its preferred method of killing weeds involves a controversial pesticide called methyl bromide, which the Environmental Protection Agency barred most organizations from using years ago. (WaPo)