]]]]]]]]]]]]]     CLEAN AIR, DIOXIN, AND OTHER PANICS     [[[[[[[[[[[
                                                          (7/24/1989)
    [published, Citizen News, New Fairfield, Connecticut, 7/19/89]
                     by Gerald and Natalie Sirkin

                [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 06784LOEB]

     President Bush has launched a large-scale clean-air program to
establish himself as the "environment president."  He also wants to be
the "education president," but that requires billions of dollars the Gov-
ernment doesn't have.  What makes the clean-air program the politicians'
dream is that it takes no government money.  It will be paid for initial-
ly by businesses, which will then pass the cost on to their customers. In
effect a hidden tax on consumers will pay for the politicians' splurge of
care and compassion.
     The Bush clean-air program includes regulations to reduce acid rain,
extensive new powers to regulate toxic emissions, tighter standards on
automobile pollutants, and a requirement for auto makers to produce cars
that run on "alternative fuels."
     Since 1970, this country has spent at least $500 billion on control-
ling pollution and currently spends between $75 and $150 billion a year.
We have achieved a substantial reduction of man-made pollutants; but as
we get down to the remnants, the cost of further reductions rises geomet-
rically.  Politicians are likely to pursue the last one percent of pollu-
tion however small the benefit to health, however high the cost, as long
as they do not have to bear the blame for that cost by raising taxes and
as long as the toxic hysteria continues.

GREAT PANICS OF THE PAST
     Environmental regulation has proceeded in spasms, impelled by a ser-
ies of panics generated by "ecotheologians"  with the help of sensation-
seeking media.  Their history is readably and reliably reviewed in "Toxic
Terror" by Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, founder of the American Council of
Science and Health (Ottawa, Illinois:  Jameson Books, 1985).
     Today's style of environmentalism was born with the campaign against
the insecticide DDT in the early 1960s.  The campaign was successful, DDT
was banned, but the charges against DDT were false.  It did not cause
illness in humans or threaten birds and other wildlife.
     In one study, substantial daily doses were fed to human volunteers
in a Federal prison for twenty-one months.  No evidence of ill effects
was observed during the experiment or afterwards.  Workers who handled
DDT for years showed no ill effects.  Studies of people exposed to DDT
during the 25 years it was in use, found no evidence that it caused can-
cer or other chronic diseases.  In fact, during those years, deaths from
liver cancer, the type most predicted by anti-DDT ideologues, decreased
by 30 percent.
     The banning of DDT actually caused illness and death by enabling the
return of malaria after DDT had practically obliterated it.
     Then came Love Canal.  Over the protests, warnings, and pleas of the
Hooker Chemical Company, the town of Niagara Falls insisted on taking
possession of the Company's chemical-waste deposit area, developing it
for housing.  Twenty years later residents began complaining of chemical
odors.  The local newspaper began running stories on toxic exposure and
illnesses.  Hooker, despite earnest efforts to prevent development of the
site, was pilloried and prosecuted, while the greed and stupidity of the
Niagara Falls government went unnoticed.  Hasty and incompetent studies
reported alarming sickness.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
        leaked a study of chromosome-damage.  Panic followed.  President Carter,
declaring a state of emergency, ordered the evacuation of all 2500
residents.
     What was it all about?  Nothing.  Scientific investigations since
the panic find no chromosome damage, no incidence of cancer or other
chronic diseases that distinguish Love Canal residents from the State's.
     Then there was the time in 1984 when Americans went berserk because
traces were found in some foods of ethylene dibromide (EDB), an insecti-
cide that inhibited the growth of dangerous molds.  The EPA spread the
panic with grossly exaggerated data about cancer risk from EDB, and the
National Resources Defense Council (the Alar-scaremongers) forced a ban
on EDB by filing a lawsuit.  Yet the trace amounts posed no threat at
all.  For 50 years workers in the manufacture of EDB, were exposed to
vastly more of it than consumers but had no higher incidence of cancer
than the rest of the population.

DIOXIN PHOBIA
     Dioxin is in the news these days because fear of dioxin emissions is
a basis for opposing trash incinerators.  It is also in the news because
of the charge that Agent Orange, the dioxin-contaminated defoliant used
in the Vietnam War, caused cancer and birth defects among veterans and
their children.
     What do we know about the health effects of dioxin?  No human has
ever died or become chronically ill from environmental exposure to it in
the U.S., as far as we know, though it is a potent animal carcinogen.
     Our most striking information comes from some accidents in chemical
plants.  In Seveso, Italy, an explosion in a chemical plant in 1976 re-
leased one to four pounds of dioxin over a densely populated area. Birds,
rabbits, chickens, and plants died soon after.  Adults and children com-
plained of nausea and chloracne, an acne-like skin disorder.  Fifty thou-
sand people were then evacuated and detailed studies, still in process,
were immediately begun.  Birth defects, miscarriages, and infant deaths
in the affected group do not significantly differ from those in the popu-
lation.  No cancer has yet been uncovered.
     An accident in a Monsanto Chemical plant in West Virginia in 1949
exposed workers to dioxin.  Except for the initial brief outbreak of
chloracne, no increased rate of illness was found among the exposed work-
ers in 40 years.
     Agent Orange investigations continue, yielding the same results.  If
the dioxin in Agent Orange created chronic diseases, the place to find
them would be among the 1200 Air Force veterans who sprayed the defoli-
ant, but two extensive studies find no significant health differences
between them and non-exposed veterans.
     If the worst cases of dioxin-exposure don't produce observable in-
creases in rates of chronic diseases, we can be sure that the trace
amount emitted by an incinerator is nothing to fuss about.  A test of
emissions at the Bridgeport incinerator indicates that dioxin is emitted
at the rate of one pound in 2500 years.  Compare that with the emission
of one to four pounds in the explosion at Seveso, from which no chronic
disease has yet resulted.

MORE PANICS OF THE PRESENT
     The radon fear is still rife in high-radon areas.  The EPA, which
spread the fear with its predictions of radon-created lung cancer, has
done nothing to alleviate that fear now that studies have falsified its
predictions.  Lung cancer rates are not higher in high-radon areas than
in low.  On the contrary, lung cancer rates tend to decrease markedly as
the average radon level increases!  This phenomenon--the beneficial ef-
fect in small doses of a "toxic" substance--is called "hormesis" and oc-
curs with radiation and with various chemicals.
     Acid rain is still a big question mark, though we are about to force
electric power companies and other manufacturers to spend billions to re-
duce acid-creating emissions.  We do not know how much of the acidity is
caused by emissions, we do not yet know the best way to reduce the emis-
sions, we are not even certain that acid rain is a significant problem.
The remedy for a major source of emissions is to substitute nuclear power
for the burning of coal and other fuels, but the ecotheologians do not
speak of it because the public might remember that it is these same eco-
theologians who are trying to destroy nuclear power.
     The most dangerous pollutant in our air is environmental madness.  A
recent poll of Americans finds that 80 percent (up from 45 eight years
ago) believes that environmental standards cannot be too high and envi-
ronmental improvements should be made regardless of cost.
     Calm and reason must be restored before we wreak further damage on
our economy in mad pursuit of zero risk.  From Congress we do not expect
much help.  We do expect a president to lead calmly and reasonably, but
President Bush has joined the frenzy.

                    Copyright, N & G Sirkin, Sherman, Connecticut, 1989


                         *      *      *


Return to the ground floor of this tower
Return to the Main Courtyard
Return to Fort Freedom's home page