For regulatory science, from Covid-19 to environmental regulations, today’s mantra is to “follow the science.” If only we had more and better science, they exclaim, we would know the correct answers and better protect public health. But “more” and “better science” often result in the opposite effect – i.e., less protection of public health. By trying to do “perfect science,” we often get in the way of good results in the protection of public health.
Perfluorooctanoate is a simple 8-member carbon molecule that has fluorine, rather than hydrogen, atoms. The result is a chemical that resembles simple forms of fat that occur naturally in our bodies – but does not break down significantly.
The actor, who played the Hulk in The Avengers movie series, spoke on Capitol Hill on an incredibly important public health topic. What expertise does he have in that area? Well, none. But he is a 9/11 truther who rejects the scientific consensus on GMOs while spreading conspiracy theories about the Zika virus.
There is wide divergence on the safety assessment of these chemicals, thus making communication with the public extremely difficult.
Safe or low-risk doses for PFOA, and related chemicals by various governments, are currently widely disparate. Fortunately, recent findings in humans may reduce some of this disparity. Efforts to use this newer information should allow for harmonization -- or at least more consistency -- in government positions.
Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, is a chemical commonly found in household products. Its purpose is to resist stains, grease, and other assaults. And it's been in the news for several years. In many workplaces and communities, PFOA has become a household name while triggering fears of adverse health effects and expensive, never-ending environmental cleanups. What’s going on? Let's take a look.
PFOA, a chemical used to make non-stick substances, was dumped into the Ohio River between the 1950s and 1990s. A New York Times Magazine article serves as an expose of this practice, targeting DuPont as a bad actor. The newspaper uses this as an excuse to call for revision of federal government legislation.
Fear of chemicals (chemophobia): superstitious, baseless, energy- and resources-draining. Thankfully, an occasional voice of tranquility amidst hysteria appears. Thanks, Dr. Joe (and Boo, Sen. Feinstein!).
Is chemophobia the fear of chemicals promoted by the forces of ignorance among the majority of Americans who are scientifically-naive on the threshold of winning the war? The past week gives disturbing indications that science is on the retreat.