Dispatch: Silly Scare Season

Related articles

ACSH staffers are amazed at the plethora of baseless scares making the news this week. Perhaps, as ACSH’s Jeff Stier predicts, this silly scare season is associated with activist rallying to promote legislation on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA reform), including an effort by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to enact a BPA ban — or attach such a ban to the Food Safety and Modernization Act, now under consideration in the Senate, after languishing there for over a year after House passage.

Fox News and WebMD, for instance, ran an off-the-wall story publicizing a study linking household cleaning products to breast cancer. The study, published in Environmental Heath, surveyed 787 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1988 and 1995, as well as 721 without breast cancer, to determine which household cleaning products they used and what they believe causes breast cancer.

“I can’t believe I am seeing this on WebMD,” says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “Don’t they have any standards? This is pure speculation.” ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross agrees, and points out that “this is typical of the touchy-feely blogosphere, but what is bothersome is that Fox News and WebMD are running it. Even an assiduous housewife would have a hard time remembering how much cleaning product she used a year ago, but this study relied on recollections about 20 years ago!”

Equally baseless is the adoption of BPA-free receipt paper by the public library system in Eugene, Ore., out of fear that BPA in the carbonless copy paper could somehow affect human health. “Despite the tight economic situation throughout this country, they are needlessly spending 5 percent more on BPA-free paper based on empty fears,” adds Dr. Ross.

The librarians should have read our Dispatch article debunking fears that BPA in receipts cause impotence in men.