Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study of environmental and health data in eight states
The Center for Public Integrity is a public interest investigative journalism organization. This group has recently obtained copies of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study of environmental and health data in eight states that was scheduled to be published in July 2007. The report revealed elevated rates of lung, colon, and breast cancer; low birth weight; and infant mortality in several geographical areas. It has not yet been published.
A few days before the study was to be released it was pulled. In addition, at the same time its lead author, Christopher De Rosa, was removed from the position he held since 1992. The Center for Public Integrity wants to know why.
The study is called “Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern.” It was developed by the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in response to a request by the International Joint Commission (an independent U.S.-Canadian organization that monitors and advises both governments on the quality of the boundary waters).
The report combines two sets of data: environmental data on known “areas of concern” (including hazardous waste dumps) and health data collected by county and sometimes smaller geographical regions.
The study does not try to address cause and effect. Instead, it shows areas for more study and data collection with the link between pollution and health.
Various drafts of this study have been reviewed by experts since 2004. Several experts who reviewed the study have recommended publication of the report.
The suspicion is that the findings were being suppressed because they were “inconvenient”. With any whisper of “injury” comes liability. Liability implies damages, legal processes, as well as costs of remedial action. The governments of both countries are so heavily aligned with the chemical industries that they do not want any evidence of injury to be released.
It is possible that the publication was halted due to orders outside the CDC. The Bush administration may be trying once again to shrink government by ensuring that a federal agency doesn’t do its job. Corporate interests are repeatedly being protected at the expense of our country’s citizens. This administration has regularly cut funds so that statistics that could possibly embarrass them politically are not found.
The CDC has stated that the report was held back due to internal and external reviewers identifying “numerous discrepancies and deficiencies.” They determined a careful review was necessary. Apparently, the CDC plans to release the report after the review is completed.
Some discrepancies include the fact that the county-level health data “reflected people’s illnesses from 1988 to 1997, while much of the environmental data used in the report came from the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory dated 2001 and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination system with 2004 data.”
The CDC did not clarify why these issues were not identified until July 2007 even though there were several years of review.
As many as 9 million people (including residents of Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee) may be at risk from exposure to pollutants. This would include pesticides, dioxin, PCBs, and mercury.
This is pertinent information, not only for the people directly involved in this geographical area, but for every U.S. citizen. We deserve to have this information and to know whether exposure to these chemicals is harming us.
About the author
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 40 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything!