Study: Government Agencies Don’t Tell The Public How Bad PFAS Really Are

Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of extremely persistent chemicals that are used in many consumer products and are ubiquitous in the environment.

Effects On Human Health

Take a quick informal survey of your peoples. Ask them if they know what PFAS are. Bet you come up with a lot of “What?” and “I don’t know.” Why? Because:

Study: Government Agencies Don’t Tell The Public How Bad PFAS Really Are, North Carolina Public Radio, 13 May 2022

The report* also noted that government agencies tend to overemphasize the uncertainty of health harm and hedge that PFAS ‘may’ cause health effects, according to “some studies.” This language is misleading, because nearly all studies link PFAS exposure to negative health outcomes for certain immune, liver, reproductive, and cancer outcomes such as kidney or testicular cancer.

“The experimental and observational evidence supporting the links between exposure to certain PFAS and adverse outcomes like reduced vaccine responses and liver damage is robust,” said co-author and East Carolina University professor Jamie DeWitt. “Agency websites and fact sheets that use weak language like ‘may cause’ and ‘some studies’ across health outcomes are misleading the public.”

Ten leading PFAS researchers listed in the paper are calling on government agencies to update their communications … and to better align with the science.

* Official Health Communications Are Failing PFAS-contaminated Communities, BioMed Central Environmental Health, 11 May 2022

This commentary briefly reviews scientific evidence concerning per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for health outcomes that concern members of affected communities and that have compelling or substantial yet differing degree of scientific evidence. It then features official documents in their own language to illustrate communication gaps, as well as divergence from scientific evidence and from best health communication practice. … Most health communications do not distinguish levels of evidence for health outcomes and overemphasize uncertainty, dismissing legitimate reasons for concern in affected communities.

Conclusions: Immediate action should be undertaken to review and improve official health communications intended to inform the public and health providers about the risks of PFAS exposure and guide community and medical decisions.

Biden said he’d “follow the science.” He’s so keen on it that he set up a Disinformation Governance Board to make sure that “the science” is disseminated and that misleading language is corrected or censored. What do we do when the misleading information originates in the body that’s tasked to control misleading information?

It looks like the government has signed on to “Doubt Is Our Product“, the famous tactic used by the tobacco industry:

Cigarette manufacturers knew that their product was hazardous to people’s health, but hired mercenary scientists who “manufactured uncertainty by questioning every study, dissecting every method, and disputing every conclusion”. In doing so the tobacco industry waged a campaign that “successfully delayed regulation and victim compensation for decades”.

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