'On the First Day of Christmas ACSH Gave to Me ... the End of the NRDC'

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To kick off our "12 Days of Christmas" holiday list, highlighting the top stories that we've debunked this year, we start with ... the perennial nuisance, the National Resources Defense Council. Those folks made our 2016 list because they just love scaring people over nothing. Here are a few examples.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) gets so many things wrong that finding one of them is as difficult as looking for corn in Iowa, genetically modified or otherwise. Here are a few of many examples. 

  • The group used cheesy, but effective tactics to try to make the herbicide 2,4-D look highly toxic. It isn't. Not even close. In particular, it equated 2,4-D with Agent Orange, the defoliant that was used in the Vietnam War. The problem with their otherwise-stellar science is that not only does 2,3,7,8-TCCD (commonly called dioxin) not exist in 2,4-D, but it is impossible for it to be there. This is because dioxin was a contaminant that was formed in the manufacture of a similar herbicide called 2,4,5-T. During the war, the two were used together, so people were exposed to dioxin (1). But, 2,4,5-T is no longer used, so 2,3,7,8-TCCD cannot form. Nice try, guys. Consult a chemist next time instead of an art history major.

 

 

  • NRDC made a big stink about formaldehyde vapors leaching out of wood floors. Lumber Liquidators was unfortunate enough to be in the group's sight this time:  "Lumber Liquidators should not be let off the hook. Unfortunately, a Wall St Journal (WSJ) article ("Regulator Sees Little Cancer Risk ...," February 10, 2016) on the CDC report points out that the "pummeled Lumber Liquidators shares [and] hurt sales". But, the scare turned out to be a big fat nothing. It is not clear whether the group enjoyed the phony scare more than it did hurting a company's business. 
  • The group filed petitions urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban perchlorate, (antistatic agent) and long-chain perfluorocarboxylates, which are used in pizza boxes and bags. The group cautions: "They have a potential to harm fetal development, male reproductive systems, pre-and-post natal brain development and to cause cancer." Is there any evidence that it does? Not in this universe.
  • Nor do they seem to realize irony: They either don't know, of conveniently avoid that of endocrine disruptors they never shut up about, pot, is one of them. Science goes up in smoke!

We could keep long enough to wish you a happy holiday season.... for 2018.