The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, July 18, 2005

Define Soaking 

This is an absolutely shameless example of the media copying a special interest group's press release without doing any investigation of their own:

Unborn U.S. babies are soaking in a stew of chemicals, including mercury, gasoline byproducts and pesticides, according to a report released Thursday.

Although the effects on the babies are not clear, the survey prompted several members of Congress to press for legislation that would strengthen controls on chemicals in the environment.

The report by the Environmental Working Group is based on tests of 10 samples of umbilical-cord blood taken by the American Red Cross. They found an average of 287 contaminants in the blood, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides and the Teflon chemical PFOA.

"These 10 newborn babies ... were born polluted," said New York Rep. Louise Slaughter, who spoke a news conference about the findings Thursday.
...
Slaughter had similar tests done on her own blood.

"The stunning results show chemicals daily pumping through my vital organs that include PCBs that were banned decades ago as well as chemicals like Teflon that are currently under federal investigation," she said in remarks prepared for the news conference.

"I have auto exhaust fumes, flame retardant chemicals, and in all, some 271 harmful substances pulsing through my veins. That's hardly the picture of health I had hoped for, but I've been living in an industrial society for over 70 years."

It's amazing how much this Reuters story on MSNBC looks like this page from the EWG's website isn't it? I had to go here to even get a mention of what the actual concentrations in the blood were. What is of course conspicuously absent is any analysis of those concentrations compared with currently accepted safe numbers, or numbers known to actually cause health problems. The majority of the article, and the EWG website devoted to this study talks about the terrible places where these chemicals come from and how they can kill you (in high enough concentrations of course), then simply talk about how those chemicals have been "detected" in the umbilical cord blood. Talk about absolutely junk science.

This is environmental scare tactics at its worst, and MSNBC and Reuters ought to be ashamed for simply regurgitating it without doing any actual leg work on their own. Soaking in chemicals indeed... I would like to see the analysis of Rep. Slaughter's head to see if any common sense is detected.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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