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Are Chemicals Killing Us? Toxicologists Believe Media Overstates Risks

Can you believe the news media when they tell us that every day we are being poisoned by chemicals we routinely used to improve our lives? No we can’t, according to a survey of 937 members of the Society of Toxicology (SOT). This survey of toxicology professionals found that the public doesn’t get a full and balanced picture of chemical risks. For instance, these knowledgeable experts overwhelmingly reject the notion that exposure to even the smallest amounts of harmful chemicals is dangerous or that the detection of any level of a chemical in your body indicates a significant health risk. And they are nearly unanimous in rejecting the notion that “organic” or “natural” products are inherently safer than others. Here are some other interesting facts that came out of this survey.

  • 74% believe that cosmetics do not pose a significant health risk.
  • 90% believe “organic or natural” products are NOT inherently safer.
  • Only 77% believe the US regulatory system is NOT inferior to Europe’s.
  • 89% do NOT believe that “phthalates” are a high risk.
  • 97% think “Teflon” should NOT be rated as a high risk.
  • 91% believe “biphenol A” (BPA) should NOT be rated as a high risk.
  • 97% feel “parabens” should NOT be rated as a high risk.
  • 96% believe “triclosan” should NOT be rated as a high risk.
  • Only 14% rate “formaldehyde gas” as a high risk.
  • Only 6% believe that any exposure to harmful chemical is unacceptable.
  • 96% say that Greenpeace overstates the health risk of chemicals.
  • 80% said the Environmental Defense Fund overstates chemical risk.
  • 79% say the Environmental Working Group (EWG) overstates risks.
  • 80% say PETA overstates risks.
  • 90% say media coverage of risks lacks balance and diversity.
  • 74% believe the news media pays too much attention to individual studies rather than examining the overall evidence.
  • 73% believe the media pays too much attention to individual scientists rather than what the scientific community believes as a whole.
  • 68% believe the news media pays too much attention to studies put out by environmental groups.
  • 80% believe that leading national newspapers, magazines and television networks overstate chemical risk.
  • 97% say the media doesn’t distinguish between good studies and bad studies.
  • WebMD is the only news source rated as accurate by the majority of toxicologist.

What’s the take-home message? “Lousy studies make the news” according to one of the authors. Don’t rely on activists or the media to tell the truth about chemical risks. Schoon Scientific believes that consumer advocacy groups and news media are doing a very poor job and NOT providing the public with truthful information, but instead are exaggerating and distorting supposed chemical dangers and causing irrational fear, confusion and unfounded concerns. Click on the link below and download the pdf file to see more eye-opening statistics.

Source: stats.org

Report PDF file: http://stats.org/stories/2009/Survey_7.09.pdf