Ross Radio, ACSH School, Important Hearing, Dredge Report

Related articles

Dr. Ross on the Airwaves
ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross will join Vicki McKenna on her radio show, NewsTalk 1310 WIBA, at 5:06 pm (EST) to talk about the Wisconsin State Senate's passage of a BPA ban. Tune in at 1310 AM where her show broadcasts, or listen online at

ACSH in School
ACSH staffers were alerted yesterday that our original publication A Citizen's Guide to Terrorism Preparedness and Response is being used as a text for the graduate course “Terrorism: Biological, Chemical, and Psychological Warfare” in NYU's Department of Environmental Medicine.

“This was a more comprehensive version of our New Yorker's Guide to Terrorism Preparedness and Response, written after 9/11,” says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “Both versions are still available and still as relevant as they were when they were originally published. It's an ACSH classic.”

If you would like to order copies of this ACSH classic, please call Judy at 212-362-7044 (ext. 235) or place an order through our website.

Hearing Loss, Then and Now
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that the rate of hearing problems at ages ranging from forty-five to seventy-five has been dropping for years.

“This is really interesting,” says Dr. Whelan. “Those in the baby boomer generation are not losing their hearing as much as their parents. Apparently, they used better hearing protection at loud jobs and had more immunizations and antibiotics against diseases that cause hearing loss. There was also a decline in smoking from one generation to the next, which is definitely a factor in hearing loss.”

“One caveat is that this is a study that was done in a small area in Wisconsin where participants were almost entirely white,” says Dr. Ross. “A bigger study should be done with a more diverse population, including more women and non-whites. Despite this good news, I could conjecture that the current practice of having music in our headphones many hours per day could reverse this trend in the future. The take-home message is that the volume of music should always be reasonable.”

Daily Dose of Data Dredging
A study published yesterday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by scientists at UC Berkeley claims that women with high levels of the common flame-retardant chemicals polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, in their blood took longer to get pregnant than women with low levels.

“They studied ten-year-old blood samples taken from 223 pregnant women in the Salinas area who enrolled in a long-term study examining environmental exposures, particularly pesticides, and reproductive health,” explains Dr. Ross. “I've said it before, I'll say it again: When you don't have a study outlined in advance with any kind of controls, you take these specimens and assay them for every chemical known to man, and eventually you will come up with something that is 'statistically significant' but means absolutely nothing in the real world. That is called data-dredging, and it is the worst kind of junk science. This is a horrendous study. It's like saying, 'I'm going to throw a coin in the air 1,000 times, and as soon as I get five heads in a row, I'm going to publish it.'”

“I hate to say this, but chemophobia is getting worse,” says Dr. Whelan. “This case is disturbing because it's published in a peer-review journal by scientists at a prestigious university. Anti-chemical momentum is building, and although there are only a handful of scientists in this camp, the majority of scientists who disagree do not speak up. Flame-retardants save lives, but the authors of this dubious article obscure that reality in order to jump to the conclusion that sitting on a couch with PBDE flame-retardants will make you infertile. It's another example -- just like BPA -- where activists want to ban something they think is dangerous on the basis of bogus data, but they never ask what will replace it and what are the risks -- the unintended consequences -- of banning it.”

For more information, see ACSH's publication on PBDE flame-retardants.

Curtis Porter is a research intern at the American Council on Science and Health (