Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, December 20, 2004

Another Enviro-Myth Shattered

Dioxin has been in the news lately, with heart stopping before and after pictures of dioxin-poisoned Ukranian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko. As scarey as the images of Yushchenko's discolored, disfigured face are, they prove the point that Dioxin is just another case of environmentist hysteria, a misrepresentation that has cost the public, and public companies, millions of dollars for no justifiable reason.

Michael Fumento's recent column, picked up in Tech Central Station and numerous newspapers, lays out the case. In case you don't remember, Dioxin was the end-of-the-world chemical that was behind the Love Canal scare in upstate New York, that forced the depopulation and clean-up of Times Beach, MO, and created all the controversy over Vietnam era defoliant Agent Orange.

Fumento's link-loaded article breaks down the case, showing that hysteria ruled, but mere science often got in the way. For example, despite considerable internal pressure, the EPA's scientific advisors kept Dioxin from being named a carcinogen.

All you have to do is look at Yushchenko's face and you know that Dioxin is bad stuff -- but, Fumento points out, "Dutch researchers said Yushchenko's exposure, probably from poisoned food, was about 6,000 times higher than average. So why, as the Munchkin coroner said of the Wicked Witch of the East, isn't Yushchenko 'not only merely dead' but 'really most sincerely dead?'"

Soil samples and cancer patterns at Love Canal and Times Beach, and medical histories of Vietnam vets all prove that Dioxin risk has been grossly overstated. This not only caused unneeded expenditure of public funds, but it also caused unneeded worry among a significant part of our population.

By the way, a little know fact about Love Canal is that the company responsible for that chemical dump repeatedly warned the city not to build a road across it or put homes nearby. The city didn't listen, and the road-building disturbed the Dioxin and allowed whatever risk it did pose to reach the new homes that were permitted nearby.