This past weekend news sources announced that Dow Chemical released information that their tests found the highest levels of dioxin in areas of the Tittabawassee River floodplain most frequently flooded. Two locations were tested with dioxin levels as high as 8,700 ppt at Smith's Crossing in Midland and 8,200 ppt in Imerman Park. Since my backyard is among the 'frequently flooded', how does the Dow information affect my personal fear factor?
Yesterday, while gardening in our backyard, we discovered this little frog has taken up residence in the little pond Frank recently built in our new flower garden. Don't know where froggy came from... probably the county ditch that runs along the property line and down to the river. Looks to me like he has all his 'fingers' and 'toes' too!
I mowed the lawn yesterday too - yes, even the half acre of floodplain - and no, I didn't suddenly start wearing a mask while I mow. Had to slow down to let a little garden snake slither past in front of me... and along the ditch line I saw a young groundhog waddle quickly to his home. When I finished mowing, multitudes of birds returned to the feeders out back. Funny, none of these critters suddenly developed two heads or any visible deformities of any kind.
As far as I can tell, there is no more danger to our health now than there was 40 years ago prior to Dow's efforts to clean up their act.
The Saginaw News August 13 edition also carried a letter to the editor from an epidemiologist that works for Dow Chemical. Since I couldn't find it in the MLive online version, I copied it for you. Please take the time to read what Dr. Collins has to say in his letter titled Dow: Study Results Valid. He took the time to explain the various workgroups involved in that study and expressed his confusion about why state and national spokespeople would criticize the study's validity. He also suggested the few critics should complain to the Journal of Exposure Analysis & Environmental Epidemiology, where the paper was published.
The Monday Saginaw News carried two more letters to the editor. You will find them both on this pdf. document. The first letter by Dr. Neill Varner, Medical Director of the Saginaw County Department of Public Health, discusses the correct usage of statistics and further recommends we be patient until results of the University of Michigan dioxin exposure study are complete and published.
The second letter was written by Dr. Philip Cole, an epidemiologist from University of Alabama-Birmingham, who was a principal reviewer of the latest chlorophenol study published by Dow. As part of a distinguished peer review group, Dr. Cole was startled that such an ethical and well performed study could be so misrepresented in media published throughout the state of Michigan.
A Few 'Must-Read' Articles:
Our institutional memory is short-lived - Ralph E. Wirtz, managing editor, Midland Daily News, 08/12/2005. Mr. Wirtz reminds us of the Dow Corning breast implant fiasco.
Trace Toxins and the Public Health - Mary Burney, ACSH, wrote a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2005. It was in response to an article in WSJ July 25 "Levels of Risk..." She said the article '...implies that detection of trace levels of some industrial chemicals is somehow related to an apparent increase in everything from prostate cancer to autism.' and further explains we are living longer and advances in medical technology are able to detect more diseases and conditions.
'Of course, you can't blame the public for having fuzzy ideas about where the dividing line lies between science and science fiction. The fuzziness is widespread...' - so says Todd Seavey, editor of HealthFactsAndFears.com and Director of Publications at the American Council on Science and Health in his satirical August 2 article The Year in Fear.