Assessing Real Versus Sensationalised Risks



 

water-bottle-baby-bottle.jpgSource of picture: www.sierraclubgreenhome.com

 

By John Richardson

WHEN the bisphenol-A (BPA) health scare erupted a couple of years ago I rushed out and changed all my baby boy’s milk bottles to ones made from polypropylene (PP).

“Did you know that there are concerns now being expressed in Europe about the plasticisers used in your PP bottles?” a senior industry source informed me the other week.

Oops, or as we say in Britain (please re-watch that old movie, Notting Hill to hear this phrase in action), oops-a-daisy.

There are also claims that epoxy resins used to coat cans of baby milk-powder – which you will obviously need to use whether you have stuck to polycarbonate bottles made via BPA or have switched to PP – leach a fair amount of BPA.

Environmentalists once characterised chlorine as the “Devil’s Molecule”, partly over concerns about the dioxin levels released during incineration of PVC waste.

“Crematoria are a bigger source of dioxin emissions,” claimed the same industry source and so perhaps we should all make a big push for more burials.

Death rates would have been a great deal higher in the developing world if it had not been for PVC pipes providing uncontaminated water.

There are many other arguments over the benefits outweighing the risks of chemicals and plastics.

One should obviously be sceptical for any positive claims that come from a company producing a particular chemical or polymer.

Nevertheless, as a journalist who used to work for the tabloid (sensationalist) national press in the UK , I am well-aware of how some reporters rarely let the facts get in the way of a good story. These are complicated, important and serious issues and worthy of a serious debate that’s unlikely to take place when the focus is on a good headline or sound bite.

And talking about a serious debate, what about the BP (or if you are American, “British Petroleum”) Gulf of Mexico disaster?

Once this story has dropped out of the 24-hour news cycle – as we’ve said before on the blog - will the public be willing to support much more stringent regulations on energy exploration and production if it means gasoline at more than $4 a gallon?

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