Planet in Peril

Related articles

A November 8, 2007 "Planet in Peril" piece hosted by CNN's Anderson Cooper featured ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan responding to anti-chemical hype:

COOPER: Elizabeth, let's start with you. You think a lot of this is overblown. Most of it -- the presence of chemicals doesn't necessarily mean...

ELIZABETH WHELAN, PRESIDENT/FOUNDER, AMERICAN COUNCIL ON SCIENCE AND HEALTH: Exactly. People are going out, getting their blood tested, and they find trace levels of chemicals. And they say, "Oh, I'm at risk of disease." And there's no evidence of that at all.

You've got to remember that our ability to define chemicals, for example, in blood has become so sophisticated we can find traces of anything in anything. And the fact that you've identified it in blood does not mean it poses a hazard...

Take something like phthalates. OK, phthalates are plasticizers, and they're used in medical equipment and in rubber duckies and other toys. And there's no evidence at all that these pose any hazard to human health. There is evidence, in animal studies, that high doses can cause, for example, cancer in rodents. The relevance of that to human risk, I think is nothing, zero...

COOPER: There isn't much -- from what I understand, there isn't really much testing of chemicals as they come on the market on the possible effects on humans.

WHELAN: But you have to remember when you're talking about chemicals, we're surrounded by natural chemicals. And they haven't been tested either. Our food is comprised of natural chemicals, many of which cause cancer in rodents; yet we're not concerned about that.

So this focus on trace levels of synthetic chemicals as a cause of disease to me seems misplaced.

COOPER: Bottom line, you say there are more important things?

WHELAN: Far more important things.