Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bugged, Literally, By Latest Eco-Hysteria

Here's the headline from the latest OH MY GOD! story posted on the Society of Environmental Journalist's daily journal of eco-hysterical news coverage:

Lurk! To lie in wait, as in ambush; to sneak; to exist unobserved or unsuspected. What a fabulous choice of words; let's send this headline writer a big fat blue ribbon.

Try as they might, the writers at Environmental Science & Technology just couldn't keep up the hysteria (with my emphasis):
Millions of children get exposed to pesticides while attending daycare, concludes the first nationwide study of insecticide residues in U.S. daycare centers. The study, published today on ES&T’s Research ASAP website (DOI: 10.1021/es061021h), found low levels of organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides. Although the health impacts are unclear, the results raise questions about the risks children face from these chemicals.
What kind of questions are raised? Oh, how about actual concentrations? How about even a remote statistical correlation between any of the compounds detected and any disease? We read on, wondering if there might actually be some kind of point here ....
“We found at least one pesticide in every daycare center,” says lead author Nicolle Tulve, a research scientist with the U.S. EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory. Tulve says that the concentrations were quite low. She did not comment on whether these concentrations might be harmful but notes that no health advisories or national standards currently exist for such exposures.
I'm beginning to wonder if there's a story here ... maybe a "your tax dollars wasted" kind of story ... but it turns out that the story just peters out with a couple of quotes from hand-wringers, never making a single significant point except:
[Paul] Lioy [deputy director of the Enviornmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute at Rutgers University] also notes that pesticides are not all bad. These chemicals kill roaches, which can cause allergies in some children.
Well, about time! Pesticides exist for a reason, and pests are called pests for a reason! Besides cockroaches, pesticides kill spiders, some of which have poisonous bites, fleas (remember bubonic plague?), centipedes, scorpions and all sorts of crawly dangers more real than the fear of very low concentrations of very thoroughly tested chemicals.

Also not mentioned in the story: Moms and dads use pesticides at home; restaurants use them; governments use them; doctors use them. Is there any evidence that day care exposure is any greater than what these kids are experiencing elsewhere ... or is there just this exciting emotional pull with day care that grabs reporters' attention?

Methinks the latter.

Related Tags: , , , ,