February 16, 2007
In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency issued warnings to pregnant women. They said that trace levels of methyl mercury in fish could harm developing babies' nervous systems. CEI warned the public that this was fishy advice—based largely junkscience. The EPA-FDA recommendations are particularly bad because they discourage consumption of a very healthy food choice.
Today's Washington Post offers yet another wrinkle to this story. It reports that women who ate more than EPA's recommended maximum levels of fish during pregnancy gave birth to children with better developed nervous systems and higher IQs than women who ate less fish. If the researchers in this study are...
February 15, 2007The New York Times reports today that many consumers are turning to “green” cleaning products. If people are willing to pay more for these products—that's their choice. But the only thing they are like to get is a warm fuzzy feeling. There is no evidence that these so-called “green” are any healthier or better for the environment.
According to a University of California, Berkeley study produced in 2006, some household cleaners might, in theory, pose a health risks. But everything in life poses risks—including the so-called green products. William W. Nazaroff, Berkeley researchers to led the report, told the New York Times: “I haven't seen any good evidence supporting the idea that something that is being sold as green is really good for the people who are using the products â€¦ There are good...
February 14, 2007Today, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) reportedly will introduce the Toxic Right-to-Know Protection Act, which would reverse recent EPA reforms to the Toxics Release Inventory. The program mandates that industry report “chemical releases” to the EPA and to the public. These lawmakers seem to believe that the EPA changes deprive the public of useful information.
February 13, 2007An Associated Press story today warns that the roses you get for Valentines Day could be lethal. In places like Columbia, they are “sprayed, rinsed and dipped in a battery of potentially lethal chemicals” and “unlike edible fruits and vegetables they are not tested for chemical residues." But there is an easy answer to that: Don't eat the roses! As for trace level contamination from a few sniffs a day, fear not. Such low level exposures pose negligible risks. Chemically caused cancers largely result from long-term chronic exposures to certain chemicals. There is no evidence—or even a good reason to even believe—that people are getting cancer from ornamental flowers! In fact, despite the fact that we are regularly exposed to trace levels of an increasing number of man-made chemicals, people have been living longer and healthier lives, and cancer rates have been...
February 2, 2007This is depressing. Wal-Mart has decided to take the politically correct road—working to eliminate its so-called “carbon footprint.” What on earth does that mean? Are they going to get rid of the automotive section? Must we shop in the dark? That won't do—pretty much every item in the store has a “carbon foot print.” What this really means is that Wal-Mart's customers will be paying higher prices so that the company can appear more "socially responsible."
Hogwash! This move is nothing more than a miscalculated marketing scheme that will do nothing other than undercut the people Wal-Mart primarily serves: Americans with tight budgets. I am a regular at Wal-Mart, and there I mostly see my working class and small business neighbors who struggle to pay high taxes and high mortgages in Fairfax County, Virginia.
These are not the people who have the luxury to go around worrying...
January 31, 2007California usually leads the nation in the formulation of bad public policy—which policymakers in other states often see as a model. But this week, they actually did something worth emulating. They lifted a state ban on residential use of vinyl plumbing pipes, which are made with chlorinated polyvinyl chloride or CPVC.
Unfortunately, it took the state more than a decade to lift this expensive, nonsensical mandate. The state's change of heart came after its housing department conducted a study debunking claims that the pipes are dangerous, which were posited by a coalition of environmental activists and plumbers' unions. In reality, the CPVC pipes are quite safe, energy efficient, and environmentally sound. They also cost much less—about a third of the alternative metal piping.
These pipes are also very easy to install. CPVC installs...
January 12, 2007This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied the marketing of yet another wood preservative, meaning consumers will continue to have few choices when it comes to buying wood products for decking, fences, and other outdoor structures. Wood preservatives are the chemicals used to make pressure treated lumber—lumber that is resistant to insects and decay.
The ostensive reason for prohibiting the product—acid copper chromate or ACC—was to prevent consumers from suffering allergy-related skin irritations and reduce potential cancer risks for workers. Yet ACC has been used safely for decades. It was once one of the most widely used chemicals for residential uses, and it is still used in industrial applications. The same cannot be said about the alternative products that began wide use in 2004, and which pose serious other problems for consumers (see below).
December 20, 2006The New York Times reports today that Boston has announced a plan to comply with “green building” codes for city projects. And, no, we are not talking about holiday decorations. The city, like many other cities that have made this commitment, is supposed design construction projects in ways that save water, energy, and other resources.
You would think such standards would always be good for the environment and city budgets.
But think again. It appears that much of the time, green building standards are more political than practical. All too often, they are counterproductive and raise costs for taxpayers. CEI details such problems in a paper on the topic Todd Meyers.
December 13, 2006Today, the European Parliament voted a final time on the new regulation of Europe's chemical industry. With this vote the proposal is almost certain to become law when the European Council of Ministers votes next week.
Called REACH—which stands for registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals—this legislation is based on the precautionary principle, and it represents the most substantial application of this principle ever. The principle essentially allows regulators to limit the freedom to sell technologies simply because a technology might have adverse impacts. Regulators need not demonstrate any actual harm before taking existing products off the market or to preventing introduction of new ones. They can just do it.
Imagine a world in which all laws are based on perceived potential for harm. In this world you could be put in jail because you ...
October 24, 2006In a changing world, it seems that at least one thing is certain: If current trends continue, environmentalist predictions about the future will continue to be wrong. Yet unfortunately, policymakers continue to heed their warnings, passing foolish regulations to ward off the “impending catastrophes.”
A new report issued by the World Wildlife Fund says that if current trends continue, the earth will be too small to sustain humanity. “Pressures on the earth's natural systems are both predictable and dire,” according to the Living Planet Report 2006.
Environmentalists have been making such wrongheaded—anti-growth, anti-technology—predictions at least since Rachel Carson launched the movement with her 1962 book Silent Spring. There she warned of an impending cancer epidemic that would result unless we stopped using many manmade chemicals. It didn't happen.
Paul Ehrlich warned...