Chemical Report More Balanced Than Usual

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An article in The New Yorker by Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Jerome Groopman quotes ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan extensively. In the article, titled "Plastic Panic: How worried should we be about everyday chemicals? Dr. Groopman examines the charges against BPA and phthalates and concludes the evidence of their health consequences is "far from conclusive."

Dr. Whelan s comments included:

People fear what they can t see and don t understand. Some environmental activists emotionally manipulate parents, making them feel that the ones they love the most, their children, are in danger. Whelan argues that the public should focus on proven health issues, such as the dangers of cigarettes and obesity and the need for bicycle helmets and other protective equipment ¦ Just because you find something in the urine doesn t mean that it s a hazard, Whelan says. Our understanding of risks and benefits is distorted. BPA helps protect food products from spoiling and causing botulism. Flame retardants save lives, so we don t burn up on our couch.

This is among the most balanced of articles I have seen on the subject of BPA and other chemicals, but it could still have been more balanced, says ACSH s Jeff Stier.

ACSH staffers were also pleased that Groopman helped to explain what Dr. Whelan says is a misguided focus on manufactured chemicals by mentioning ACSH s Holiday Dinner Menu, which makes the point that no human diet can ever be free of natural "carcinogens," defined as chemicals that cause cancer in rodents in extremely high doses.