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January 2009

CPSIA: Nowhere to hide

I posted a blog entry on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 earlier, and now point you to my HND piece.

Finally, this matter is getting attention in the mainstream media, with a great article by good guy Jeff Stier in the New York Post. His article was linked to by the Consumer Reports blog, as an example of an "anti-CPSIA" story.

CR's take is that the law doesn't need to be rolled back but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does need to step in. However, there is very little the agency can do on the enforcement side--and I have a feeling that the CR staffers know this. If they don't, they are even more clueless than I thought.

By all logic, there is no explanation as to why "consumer" groups should be in favor of this law, since it will drastically hurt consumers. Here's the explanation: They are NOT really consumer groups at all. Rather, they are anti-industry zealots, who are using lead in toys--and any other issue--as a way to hurt industry. Throwing it back at CPSC--which was against this law, and told Congress, who would not listen--is completely disingenuous.

Good Morning America gets called out again

The Formaldehyde Council (FCI) has taken out the long knives against Good Morning America, and it's about time.

Here are some excerpts from the press release it issued today, entitled "Stories on Formaldehyde in Clothing and Kitchen Cabinets by Good Morning America are False, Distorted."

The first story, by reporter Andrea Canning and aired by GMA on Nov. 11, 2008, alleged that Victoria's Secret bras tested positive for formaldehyde and may have caused a severe allergic reaction in an Ohio woman who had brought a lawsuit. But subsequent legal discovery revealed that, in fact, the plaintiffs conducted no testing whatsoever, the company uses no formaldehyde in their products, and two independent labs determined that formaldehyde was "undetectable" in the clothing.

What's more, the plaintiff admitted to wearing the garment for four days straight, day and night, and had washed it herself with homemade cleaning agents. A basic and harmless skin patch testing can be done to pinpoint the cause of allergic skin reactions; yet the Ohio plaintiff had refused that test prior to GMA's reporting.

FCI brought all these substantiated facts to the attention of Ms. Canning and her producer, Michael Corn—both of whom failed to reply to proof that their story misled viewers, let alone issue a clarification.

A second story that aired on Dec. 31, 2008, on "future-proofing" a home to preserve its value included an interview with Wall Street Journal contributing editor Wendy Bounds. In that segment, Bounds warned viewers against purchasing cabinets that contained urea formaldehyde because "it's a carcinogen."

The truth is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's assessment of formaldehyde's hypothetical carcinogenicity requires extremely high and prolonged exposures over a lifetime. Realistically, this is not possible because given the strong odors presented by formaldehyde, no human being could tolerate those levels even temporarily.

When an FCI representative contacted ABC producer Anna Robertson to ask that she correct the reporting, she also refused—claiming, incredibly, that Bounds had made no connection between cancer and formaldehyde.

Here's my take on what's going on here:

Armed with zero knowledge of science, the typical journo drinks the simplistic leftie Kool-Aid whereby all industry is bad, and all claimed horror stories, regardless of the source, must be correct. Another way to describe this is "ideology."

You know, that's when you are about to be executed and you still yell "Thank you, Comrade Stalin." Or, If your name is Ethel Rosenberg, rather than save your own life, and not leave your sons orphans, you choose to die for the cause.

The irony here, of course, is that Communist countries—especially in Eastern Europe—created the worst industrial pollution of all time.

FCI should keep turning up the heat, as it sets an example for all the shrinking violet industries, and their timid trade associations.

Everyone's a victim part 13874562647

You've probably heard about Jeremy Piven's departure from a Broadway show, supposedly based on mercury poisoning.

Our friends at the National Fisheries Institute posted a rebuttal to his appearance on Good Morning America—a show that is rapidly developing a reputation as the environmental moron's favorite source. After all, they were among the first to break the now completely discredited "Formaldehyde in Victoria's Secret bras" story.

Maybe we should dub it "Good MOURNING America."

Haven't heard of the CPSIA? You will...and soon

CPSIA stands the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, signed into law by President Bush on August 14, 2008. There are many provisions of the law, but the main ones have to do with controlling lead and chemicals called phthalates in children's products.

And that's one of the difficulties. While there is plenty of data implicating lead as being damaging to kids—including this tragic episode in Minnesota—there is exactly NO data supporting the phthalates ban, except for some very questionable rodent studies.

Phthalates are used to soften plastics, and can be found in scores of children's products, where they have been used for years with absolutely no ill effects.

Come February 10th, though, many products will probably disappear from store shelves. Be prepared for higher costs, lots of inconvenience, for no good reason at all.

Notably, the Consumer Product Safety Commission—the agency in charge of enforcing this law—has its own science proving the safety of phthalates, and is not at all happy about this latest congressional boondoggle. It is by no means standard procedure for an agency to bad mouth the law that it has to enforce, but when the law is this awful, it does happen.

Shame on Congress for not listening to anyone, and shame on the industry for not doing a good enough job of getting the message out to the public.

Read all about it right here.

Another greenie journo betrays her ignorance

It was Karl Kraus who said this about journalists...

Journalist: a person without any ideas but with an ability to express them; a writer whose skill is improved by a deadline: the more time he has, the worse he writes.

As we have noted before, beware of Greenies bearing gifts. The latest nonsense comes from the GreenDay contributor Marisa Belger:

Purchase furniture made without toxic chemicals. Your couch may look harmless, but unless you know exactly how it was manufactured, there's a good chance that it's off-gassing (emitting substances into the air) harmful chemicals into your home. The most common off-gassed substances are VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, which actually sound as scary as they are—they've been connected to cancer and birth defects—and can be found in substances like formaldehyde, flame retardants, finishes, adhesives and foam cushions.

There are many things wrong with the above statement, such as the dose makes the poison. Assuming that a piece of furniture actually were contaminated with enough VOC to be carcinogenic in less than 100 years, the odor would be so overpowering that the consumer never would have bought it in the first place.

Moreover, it is probably not possible to create furniture without using some sort of chemical, and her posting in no way demonstrates that the recommended brands are any freer of chemicals than standard retail fare.

Don't you just love people who know nothing at all about chemicals bloviating about the hazards?

Hat tip--Eric McErlain

Protecting you from deadly infections

Infection control guru Larry Muscarella has done it again. Although you might think that a discussion of automated endoscope reprocessors (AER) is really "inside baseball" kind of stuff, the truth is that it is really INSIDE YOU kind of stuff. AERs are used to clean and disinfect the various kind of flexible scopes that are placed deep inside your body for medical procedures.

If they are not processed effectively, you can get an infection, and if you are a sick immuno-compromised patient, you can die. In fact, I have written about such cases.

He took a look at how a supposedly unbiased third-party institute's evaluation of a new AER is anything but unbiased. You might ask: Who is looking out for you? Good question. Right now, it is not the NGOs (so-called non-governmental organizations such as the institute discussed here) or sadly, even the federal regulatory agencies.

Rather, it is independent guys like Larry, who are willing to take on the system. Download Larry's report here (1.2 MB pdf).

Formaldehyde phobia strikes again

This time its about overblown complaints regarding TSA uniforms, that surfaced a few days ago. The trouble (for the complainers) is that TSA got the uniforms tested, and, well....the level is FAR below allowable standards. What's more, the new uniforms are logging fewer complaints than the old ones.

Must have been a slow news day.

My buddy Eric McErlain has the scoop over at Formaldehyde Facts.

Curing mice but not humans

Ever wonder where the billions upon billions of dollars have gone in cancer research, with precious little to show for all the expenditure?  The answer is simple:  We have found dozens of ways to cure mice of cancer, but these cures almost never work in humans.

More than that, we are being victimized by scores of regulations against chemicals that have been based solely on rodent studies. As it happens, in most cases, when the epidemiology is done, we learn that the effects of that chemical on humans bear little resemblance to the effect on rodents.

Finally, people are speaking up.

Check out my latest HND piece.

Aren't you proud of your US Senate?

When the 111th Congress opens on Tuesday (6th), all eyes will be on Roland Burris, the senator designate for the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. Of course, his appointment is under a cloud since it was made by "embattled" Governor Blagojevich.

Burris is only one player in a burgeoning cast of appointees and questionable recount "winners" that are making this such an entertaining new year.

Blame it all on the seventeenth amendment. For a walk down memory lane, with some cool historical/hysterical facts as to how we got here, check out my essay.