Friday, August 30, 2013

Does smelling a perfume mean your health is comprised?

Please provide scientific support for this statement: "Smelling a chemical doesn’t necessarily mean that your health will be compromised (think perfumes)." Hahaha! Perfumes are made from petrochemicals and they have trade secrets. Read "Scent of Danger"

 “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; only the dose permits something not to be poisonous.” Paracelsus (1493-1541)

While toxicology has evolved into a complex discipline, to answer that question, it is important to understand its basic concepts. Only then can we better understand how decisions based in toxicology are used to protect populations from the harmful effects of chemicals.

For one: Toxicity is the relative ability of a substance to cause harm to a living organism.

The “relative ability” depends not only on dose (concentration) but also depends on route of entry (inhalation, oral, dermal etc.), duration of exposure (one hour, three days straight, thirty years), frequency of exposure(night time, all day etc.), intra-population differences, among others.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shale dwellers deserve better health reporting

Cabot Well - Montrose
A story came across the wire yesterday “Fracking Health Project Puts Numbers to the Debate.”  The story raises more questions than answers and feeds into the fear already gripping a portion of the population.

Out of the population of 200,000 residents of Washington County, PA, who live around 700 drilled wells, the project focuses its outcome on 27 self-reported symptom sufferers from one clinic. Were they clustered around one well? compression station? several wells? Were their symptoms confirmed through medical examinations? Or is this another rush to release information because of the said data’s importance (Cornell’s Elaine Hill’s PhD thesis comes to mind).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bemoaning the Petrochemical Industry aka Biting the Hand that Feeds You

In response to a June letter that appeared in the Syracuse Post Standard titled “Hydrofracking will worse harm caused by petro-chemical industry: Your letters” can be found here.

Dear Editor:

The ancient Greeks personified the human brain into two systems of thought, Apollo and Dionysus.  The two were a dichotomy, not rivaling, but intertwined. Apollo represented reason and Dionysus, emotion.  Through decades of research, Psychologists Paul Slovic and Daniel Kahneman (winner of a Nobel Peace prize), found that the ancient Greek thought process rang true.

They found that while the two systems are in conflict, they have the ability to work together to understand and perceive risk.  Reason, is slower of the two to process risk. It examines evidence, it calculates and considers. A reason-based decision is easy to explain as it is well thought out. The second system however, emotion, works quickly and is more rudimentary. Not so easy to explain emotion based decisions. People just feel that something is not right. Both systems are essential for our survival. However, according to the psychologist’s research, emotion based decision are normally irrational. The decisions rely on examples that are simple and easily recalled.

Don Hassig blog entry offers a good example. It offers a complete loss of perspective.