December 27 2012
Top Ten Chemical Scares of 2012
This past year, there must have been thousands of green-group-inspired news stories hyping risks regarding numerous chemicals. Regulators too have engaged in efforts to demonize various products unfairly, placing them on “concern” lists and demanding that companies expend enormous amounts of money to study, test, and re-study chemicals that have been safely used for decades. Below is my top-ten list of 2012 green alarms along with links to stories that debunk the junk claims.
10. Silly silicone hype and needless regulatory muddling. The U.S. Environmental Protection agency (EPA) wants companies that make silicones to spend tons of money to collect and submit data on trace silicone residue from water released from wastewater treatment plants. But silicones—already well studied and used safely for decades—are largely inert chemicals, posing no significant risks, which makes EPA demands little more than expensive bureaucratic busywork. See Julie Gunlock’s excellent review of the issue as well as Jeff Stier’s superb analysis. Find more info here.
9. Kitchen Cabinet Fever. Greens want you to believe that dangerous chemicals used to make adhesives found in kitchen cabinets, plywood, and many other construction products will make you sick because they contain formaldehyde. But what’s really sickening is their lack of scientific rigor. Check out my blog post on formaldehyde for more information.
8. EPA’s All-Wet Lead Paint Rule. The EPA has placed highly unreasonable burdens on small businesses and home owners who want to renovate homes containing lead paint. See my article on Pajamas Media and post on Open Market to learn why this expensive rule won’t do anything to improve public health and safety. Also, recommended reading on a related issue is Emily Willingham’s analysis on green claims about dangerous levels of lead in Christmas decorations.
7. “Disruptive” Cleaning Supplies. Supposedly, Americans’ “obsession” for having sanitary, germ-free homes may well kill us by filling our homes with chemicals that disrupt our hormone systems and impede the development of our children. Now seriously folks, take a look at this fact sheet on endocrine disrupters, and you will see that synthetic chemicals are simply not potent enough to have any such effects!
6. “Obesity-inducing" plastics. If you’re cleaning supplies don’t disrupt your hormonal system, plastics promise to leach chemicals into our food that will make you fat, so say the greens. Greens even go as far as to suggest that trace chemicals are a significant contributor to the national obesity problem—never mind that people are eating more calories than ever before. See my article on these absurd claims about so-called chemical “obesogens” as well as my blog post related to obesity-related junk-science. And check out Julie Gunlock’s eloquent critique as well.
5. “Mischievous” Make-up. Groups claim that the use of chemicals in makeup and other personal care products imperil women’s health. In reality, these products are quite useful in ensuring cosmetics are safe to use. See Dana Joel Gattuso’s study on the topic as well as her op-ed for more information.
4. “Poisonous” Apples. Every year, the Environmental Working Group issues a “report” condemning healthy foods that have inconsequential amounts of trace-level pesticides, most of which washes off with water. See my op-ed on why moms should feel good—rather than worry—when they give their kids healthy foods like apples.
3. “Killer” Couches. During 2012, the Chicago Tribune began a misinformation smear campaign against some very valuable safety products: flame retardants, particularly those used in furniture. In addition to sloppy reporting, these “journalists” appear to have an ax to grind and may in the end imperil public health by undermining these products. See my blog post on the topic as well as the American Council on Science and Health’s excellent study on flame retardants. See also Todd Myer’s blog post on Washington State’s misguided flame retardant ban.
2. “Toxic” School Supplies. Capitalizing on the back-to-school season in September, anti-chemical activists gained many headlines by issuing a press release and “study” suggesting that moms who buy their children plastic backpacks imperil kids’ health. See Julie Gunlock’s enlightened piece on this hogwash as well as Jon Entine’s superb op-ed on Forbes.com.
And the #1 most absurd, unhelpful and potentially dangerous hyped chemical risk of 2012 … drum roll please ….
1. “Toxic” soup and veggies. What seems to be the environmental activists’ favorite villain—the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) suffered from the most hits. Used to line food containers—such as soup and vegetable cans—and to make hard, clear plastics, greens suggest that BPA is an “endocrine disrupter”—a chemical that affects human hormone systems. Supposedly, it impacts human development starting in the womb and eventually leads to everything from breast cancer, heart disease, obesity, and more. But as IWF scholars have explained many times on the Inkwell and elsewhere, women should be wary of such hype. For a list of stories on BPA, follow this link.
For more information on chemical risks, see SafeChemicalPolicy.org.