Great Lakes Reports Flawed, Institute Says | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: September 10, 2008

Great Lakes Reports Flawed, Institute Says

Committee cites problems with data and conclusions of CDC study
Department: Government & Policy

Two drafts of a federal report examining health and pollution data from around the Great Lakes have serious shortcomings, according to an Institute of Medicine (IOM) review released in early September.

"We found problems in how each draft was developed, which data were used, and what conclusions the authors drew," said Robert B. Wallace, the University of Iowa professor of internal medicine and epidemiology who chaired the IOM committee that reviewed the two drafts. "The problems we found in the drafts would limit the ability of officials and others to draw conclusions from them about whether any health risks are associated with living in or near certain places around the Great Lakes."

One version of the draft report by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention was leaked in 2007 and posted on the Web by an investigative journalism group. CDC issued a revised draft earlier this year.

IOM agreed with many of the concerns raised by CDC managers about the 2007 draft, saying it "could lead readers to assume links between contamination and health problems regardless of whether they actually exist."

Meanwhile, the 2008 version provides only a summary of information about releases of contaminants "and does not add substantially to the understanding of pollution around the Great Lakes," the IOM review said.

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