17 votes

Forever chemicals are widespread in US drinking water

7 comments

  1. post_below
    Link
    The takeaway from this (I hope) is that we have public health backwards. As long as there's no proven harm, much of the time regulators give companies the green light. This despite decades of...

    The takeaway from this (I hope) is that we have public health backwards. As long as there's no proven harm, much of the time regulators give companies the green light.

    This despite decades of evidence that under tested chemicals incorporated into products at scale usually turn out to be damaging to health, the environment or both. Again and again this happens, yet so far we haven't learned.

    Would it slow the pace of new innovations, and therefore profits, if we required solid pure reviewed evidence of no long term harm instead of just no hard evidence of harm before something could be used? Of course. Human health, biodiversity and a livable environment are worth more than capitalism.

    I'm stating the obvious here because I so often see smart people react strongly when people question the status quo of industrialized capitalism. Whether it's food additives or industrial processes or any of a host of things. The impression I get is that people think all this stuff is based on hard science and those that question it are anti-science conspiracy theorists.

    But the opposite is true. We aren't approaching these things with a scientific mindset at all. You don't roll out your compelling but insufficiently tested theory on the public simply because there's no evidence yet that you shouldn't. You test it rigorously, then you come up with other ways to test it, then if you get the results you want you invite other people to prove you wrong.

    Unless the new thing is something that existed in our environment, in comparable quantities, during the majority of our evolution, the default assumption should be that it's harmful until proven otherwise. That might sound extreme, but if we look at the evidence we have so far (usually gathered after the damage has already been done) it seems to me to be common sense.

    13 votes
  2. vord
    Link
    Somehow in the 80's and 90's we got rid of CFC's in most products. This is not an insurmountable problem, and the fact it hasn't been addressed yet is shameful.

    Somehow in the 80's and 90's we got rid of CFC's in most products. This is not an insurmountable problem, and the fact it hasn't been addressed yet is shameful.

    11 votes
  3. [2]
    emdash
    Link
    And here's a good accompanying video to this article, on the same topic—produced by Vox a few months ago.

    And here's a good accompanying video to this article, on the same topic—produced by Vox a few months ago.

    7 votes
    1. reifyresonance
      Link Parent
      oh I live where this talks about, haha. good to know.

      oh I live where this talks about, haha. good to know.

      4 votes
  4. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Adding to this list: Robert Bilott’s book Exposure. Bilott was the lawyer who lead the case against DuPont.

      Adding to this list: Robert Bilott’s book Exposure. Bilott was the lawyer who lead the case against DuPont.

      7 votes
  5. [2]
    LukeZaz
    Link
    This article looks kinda shoddy to be honest. It spends half its time talking about how long these chemicals take to break down, most of the other half talking about regulating them, and dedicates...

    This article looks kinda shoddy to be honest. It spends half its time talking about how long these chemicals take to break down, most of the other half talking about regulating them, and dedicates only one sentence to the actually important factor: Is there an actual health risk?

    Personally, I don't find that sentence very convincing when all it has to say is "Scientists have found links between [some chemicals] and [scary medical conditions]." Links only matter if they're statistically significant, and I don't think anyone is going to care if the worst link they've got is the kind that barely manages a California cancer warning label.

    7 votes
    1. precise
      Link Parent
      I think the crux of the argument is that we should be testing these chemicals first before we use them en masse. There is a significant profit motive on the part of the chemical manufacturers to...

      I think the crux of the argument is that we should be testing these chemicals first before we use them en masse. There is a significant profit motive on the part of the chemical manufacturers to ensure that does not happen. I think @post_below's reply in this thread can say it better than I, though.

      10 votes