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BARRIERS TO A CREDIBLE HEALTH STUDY.
From: DIANE HEBERT
Subject: Inconclusive By Design
Date: Fri, 09 Aug 2002 11:37:36 +0000
INCONCLUSIVE BY DESIGN
Waste, Fraud and Abuse in Federal Environmental Health Research
Environmental Health Network National Toxics Campaign Fund
Authors: Sanford Lewis, Brian Keating, Dick Russell
Instead of systematically applying precautionary public health principles
consistent with their legal and ethical duties, the federal agencies have
engaged in politically-driven whitewashes. They have become virtual
propaganda tools of polluting industries - making public reassurances
instead of public protection their foremost focus. One result has been an
increase in public complacency and government inaction at many sites where
further precautions to reduce toxic exposures are merited.
The methods of distortion in the agencies investigative techniques have
varied from site to site, but underlying most of their activities is a
single theme. The studies in which they are engaged often may appear to be
formal and scientific, but behind this veneer are 'Inconclusive BY design'.
The misdesign of many studies has been due to one or more of the following
INADEQUATE CONTACT WITH POPULATIONS BEING STUDIED, INCLUSING REFUSALS TO
STUDY THE SICKEST POPULATIONS IN THE RELEVANT POPULATIONS;
RELIANCE UPON TESTING TECHNIQUES ENTIRELY INAPPROPRIATE TO THE TYPE OF
EXPOSURE THAT IS INVOLVED;
RELIANCE UPON STATISTICAL METHODS OF INQUIRY WHICH ARE ENTIRELY UNSUITED TO
THE SMALL AND MOBILE POPULATIONS RESIDING AROUND WASTE SITES;
CONTRACTING WITH RESEARCHERS WHO ARE KNOWN TO BE BIASED AGAINST FINDING ANY
CONNECTION BETWEEN TOXIC POLLUTION AND DISEASE;
STUDYING THE WRONG TYPES OF ILLNESSES,E.G, FOCUSING ON DEATH STUDIES WHERE
HEALTH PROBLEMS EXPERIENCED TO DATE HAVE BEEN NONLETHAL, SUCH AS RESPIRATORY
ILLNESSES OR REPRODUCTIVE PROBLEMS.
THE COMBINATION OF THESE RESEARCH DESIGN FLAWS HAVE BECOME VIRTUALLY
Quite predictably, no finding of an association between disease and exposure
is drawn in studies and assessments which currently cost over $30 million
per year in tax monies.
The inconclusive results of studies are used by polluters and governments to
quell public concern and justify cutting corners on remedial expenditures
needed to end public exposure to toxics. Thus, in addition to wasting
millions of dollars of taxpayer's money, they are jeopardizing public health.
More rigorous public health evaluations have indicated that many of these
communities should be subject to precautionary measures to reduce public
exposures to chemical wastes.
Specific examples of problems with studies at various sites are discussed..
ATSDR HEALTH ASSESSMENTS DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD
An August 1991 critique by the General Accounting Office concluded that
ATSDR assessments were often incomplete, and of limited usefulness.
Many of the assessments were so weak they did not provide enough information
to reasonable determine whether further study was merited!
ONE OF THE MOST HEINOUS AND PERVASIVE DEFECTS OF THE HEALTH ASSESSMENTS
PROGRAM HAS BEEN A LACK OF ATSDR CONTACT WITH LOCAL RESIDENTS. THE RESULT
HAS BEEN AN APPALLING ABSENCE OF EVEN THE MOST BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF LOCAL
IN COLUMBIA, MISSSISSIPPI, FOR EXAMPLE A HAZARDOUS WASTE SITE FLOODS INTO
HOMES EACH SPRING. THE WATER CAUSES BLISTERS ON THE LEGS AND FEET OF LOCAL
RESIDENTS, MANY FAMILIES HAVE COMPLAINED OF STOMACH, KIDNEY AND LIVER
PROBLEMS, AND REPRODUCTIVE DIFFICULTIES.
ATSDR'S HEALTH ASSESSMENT TEAM AFTER FAILING TO INTERVIEW ANYONE LVING AT
THE SITE, CONCLUDED THAT THERE WAS NO HEALTH RISK IN THE COMMUNITY!
Now go back and look at the MDCH proposal.