Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health,
wrote in an op-ed
in the Wall Street Journal on 12 December 2000, that "contrary
to EPA assertions, there is no credible evidence that PCB exposure
in the general environment, in fish, or even at very high levels
in the workplace, has ever led to an increase in cancer risk."
says she asked the National Cancer Institute "Does NCI
have any evidence that eating fish from the Hudson River contributes
to the toll of human cancer?" and then quotes the National
Cancer Institute's director of communications, Susan Sieber,
as having said that the NCI knows of "no evidence"
that eating fish from the Hudson River posed a human cancer
is not the only industry apologist writing misleading op-eds
on the health risks of chemicals.
Try: Michael Fumento in Forbes
or the WSJ, Gregg Easterbrook
in The New Republic or Steven
Safe in the WSJ or the New
England Journal of Medicine.
would seem to do it. Eating fish from the Hudson River must be safe...
until one looks more carefully at what Whelan asked, how
Sieber responded, and what evidence there actually is about the
health risks of PCBs.
asked about evidence on the cancer risks of eating fish from the
Hudson River. There have been none from the Hudson River
that prove cancer risks. But there have been studies elsewhere
of PCBs, consumed in fish as well as accumulated through other diets,
that show significant health risks, both to cancer as well as to
other health endpoints. Whelan's question was cleverly worded and
the answer then misleadingly conveyed. These studies done elsewhere
are directly relevant to the health risks of people eating PCB-contaminated
fish in the Hudson. Whelan's sleight-of-hand to avoid acknowledging
these other studies is nothing short of deceitful.
from the National Cancer Institute itself, in collaboration with
the Centers for Disease Control, established in 1997 a very strong
cancer risk for PCB exposure. This paper, summarized elsewhere
within www.OurStolenFuture.org, reveals that PCBs interacting
with Epstein-Barr virus elevate the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma,
a hormone-related cancer, by over 20-fold. NHL is one of the cancers
that has been increasing steadily in the United States over the
past 2 decades. By itself, the virus appears to have little impact
on NHL risk. PCBs by themselves elevate the risk only modestly (but
significantly). Together, however, the impact on risk is dramatic.
dismissal of PCB-related health risks also ignores significant PCB
impacts on cognitive
system function of children exposed in the womb. Her debating
technique of ignoring these impacts may be effective for readers
who have heard only about the cancer risks of environmental contamination,
but it is dishonest. The studies have been published in major scientific
outlets, including Science, the New England Journal of
Medicine, and Environmental Health Perspectives. Any
public health science expert working on contamination cannot help
but be aware of them. Whelan's failure to mention them confirms
her biases as a GE apologist, not a disinterested commentator on
public health science.
two links in the preceding paragraph are to two specific, recent
studies. More general coverage of contamination effects on neurological
and immunological development can be found at "Brain
and Behavior" and "Disease