Questioning Controversial Claims | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 3 | p. 6, 76 | Letters
Issue Date: January 19, 2009

Questioning Controversial Claims

Department: Letters

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I WAS QUITE SURPRISED and disappointed in C&EN's review of the book "Poisoned Profits" (C&EN, Jan. 5, page 34). One would expect a critical and balanced assessment of a controversial book. Unlike many of the reviews that have appeared in the mainstream media, your reviewer questioned none of the claims in the book, which include blaming chemical exposure for the Columbine and Virginia Tech tragedies.

The book's premise is that one out of three American children suffers from a chronic disease and there has been a "steep upward trend" in the incidence of toxic effects in children. But a Washington Post reviewer, who claimed to have once aspired to become an environmental reporter, based on earlier work by the book's authors found that "a look at the data quickly shows" these contentions to be "overreaching, headline-grabbing," and "overblown" (Sept. 7, 2008). Absent from the C&EN review was any investigation of the accuracy of the book's claims and allegations.

The book's authors reluctantly acknowledge that Americans are living longer and healthier lives due in large part to the benefits of chemistry. In fact, chemistry has played a leading role in developing life-saving vaccines and new medical treatments, ensuring supplies of clean drinking water, and products like car seats and bike helmets that protect our children from injury.

The chemical industry recognizes that environmental health issues are a concern for parents and is working on programs that address children's health issues. Since 1988, American Chemistry Council members have reduced environmental releases by 78%. ACC and its members have strongly supported programs such as the High Production Volume Challenge, the Voluntary Children's Chemical Evaluation Program pilot, and the National Children's Study that, in conjunction with regulatory requirements, will provide the information that government, industry, and parents can use to make informed decisions that protect children's health.

Michael P. Walls
Vice President, Regulatory & Technical Affairs
American Chemistry Council

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