Chemicals and Environment

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and was signed into law June 22, 2016. It created a mandatory requirement for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines, to do so in a transparent fashion, and to do so using risk-based chemical assessments rather than rely on simple epidemiological correlations. 

EPA selected the first 10 chemicals to undergo risk evaluation under the amended TSCA and to make those understandable for the public, the American Council on Science and Health is producing risk-based evaluations of each, which will then be compiled into a free downloadable book...

Americans love to sue people.

Each year, we file about 5,800 lawsuits per 100,000 people. To put that figure into context, America's lawsuit rate is higher than Canada (by 4 times), Australia (3.8x), Japan (3.3x), France (2.4x), and the UK (1.6x). We're a lawsuit-happy nation.

What do we sue over? Well, anything really. A former judge sued a dry cleaner for $54 million over a missing pair of pants. Although he lost the lawsuit, the financial hardship and stress of being sued caused the dry cleaners to close the store. Simply put,...

There is a real mess going on in Southern Florida. Lake Okeechobee, which is the second largest body of fresh water in the US, as well as other waterways, are being overrun by a massive bloom of blue-green algae. This bloom is threatening both tourism and health. The science here is very interesting because blue-green algae, are not algae; they are bacteria, capable of serving up some of the world's most toxic chemicals.

Although cyanobacteria, which can fix nitrogen and perform photosynthesis, play an important part in the earth's ecosystem, when blooms form, especially usually when the water is still,...

It's not often that I have a whole lot of positive things to say about the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). But there's no denying that they can make an effective scare video. And even though it's a bunch of BS, it sure is well done.

But for a group that makes a whole lot of money - more than 100-times what ACSH does - you might think that they could afford to find a decent scientist or two somewhere. I mean, their corporate officers sure do well enough...

And so do a bunch of other people...

...

Two weeks ago, we reported on a bizarre decision by the online news arm of the journal Science: The outlet had reprinted an article from a politically slanted environmentalist website that hyped concern over a particular chemical. The article fell quite short of the high standards we associate with the journal.

Now, Live Science has done something similar, but it's far worse. Normally a reliable source of information (and an outlet with which ACSH has a reprinting agreement), Live Science published an article that is a dream for anti-pesticide and anti-chemical fearmongers.

The...

CNN's Christiane Amanpour has a unique relationship with reality.

While she has made a very big deal of her adherence to the truth and nothing but the truth, the matter is a bit more complicated: Ms. Amanpour is an incredibly intelligent person who paints highly distorted views of the world -- mostly by selectively providing or withholding facts -- and presents them as objective journalism.

Most of her biases are political and therefore of no interest to us. However, a recent segment on Ms. Amanpour's TV program about the Flint water crisis was so incredibly misleading, that a corrective is in order.

Spreading Hysteria About...

Forty solid years after the Consumer Product Safety Commission implemented regulations for getting rid of lead-based paint, the US is still on the lead-based paint merry-go-round. Last week, I attended a Congressional hearing entitled “Oversight of the Federal Government’s Approach to Lead-Based Paint and Mold Remediation in Public and Subsidized Housing”, which hoped to figure out how the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can finally be rid of the pesky threat of lead-based paint in federal housing.

This comes after the HUD has already spent over $1.2 billion on these exact efforts and have made no measurable progress.

Everyone in the room agreed that lead is bad. So do we. It is a toxin that has been associated with adverse effects...

A significant effort is underway to assess the environmental repercussions on marine life in the Gulf of Mexico from the massive and historic Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

A just-completed, seven-year study maps where fish and other aquatic life live, and in what amounts, in order to give marine biologists a better understanding of the ecological damage that took place eight years ago, and to better prepare for future spills. The research covered all coastal areas of the Gulf, from western Florida, through southern Louisiana and Texas, to the eastern shores of Mexico as well as the Yucatan Peninsula and the northwestern shores of Cuba.

The research, led by the University of South Florida and conducted between 2011 and 2017, consisted of a dozen separate...

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and was signed into law June 22, 2016. It created a mandatory requirement for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines, to do so in a transparent fashion, and to do so using risk-based chemical assessments rather than rely on simple epidemiological correlations. 

EPA selected the first 10 chemicals to undergo risk evaluation under the amended TSCA and to make those understandable for the public, the American Council on Science and Health is producing risk-based evaluations of each, which will then be compiled into a free downloadable book...

News outlets just love to scare people. Scares get readers. Readers mean money. Most of the time the scares are overblown. Not this time. There are currently a whole bunch of reports about Giant Hogweed (which could fairly be called "Satan's Favorite Botanical") being spotted in a number of states, most recently Virginia. I recently wrote about the toxin in poison ivy (See Urushiol, The Poison In Poison Ivy). The chemicals in Giant Hogweed make poison ivy look like iceberg lettuce. Yes, they are that bad.

The news stories tell you to stay the hell away from the stuff....