Alibi V.28 No.14 • April 4-10, 2019 

Letters

PFAs: Smoke ’Em If You’ve Got ’Em

Dear Editor,

According to a squib in the Alibi [“NewsCity,” v28 i9] “exposure to [PFAs] are known to cause a number of complications in humans including increased cholesterol levels, lower birth weights, cancer and thyroid hormone disruption.”

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), “high levels of certain PFAs may increase cholesterol levels (ATSDR’s emphasis).” They also “may” increase the risk of thyroid disease, and they “may” cause lower birth weights. The ATSDR goes on to say that “the decrease in birth weight is small and may not affect the infant’s health.” In addition, “studies do not clearly show whether PFAs cause cancer in people.” Also: the studies “are not consistent and may not have looked at other factors like smoking.”

Most of the studies that found adverse results from exposure to PFAs are animal studies, and according to the ATSDR, animal studies use doses at much higher levels than are found in the environment, and not all effects in animals may occur in humans. By way of summary, exposure to PFAs is not—n-o-t—not “known” to cause any health complications in humans.

Anyone who is worried about cancer is asked to consider the following. Seventy-eight percent of cancer is caused by smoking, diet, prolonged excessive drinking (especially of hard liquor), certain sexual practices, obesity and inadequate exercise. That is, 78 percent of cancer is caused by human behavior. By themselves, smoking and diet cause about 65 percent of cancer. The two best ways to protect oneself from cancer are to stop smoking (or not start) and to have a better diet.

Sincerely yours,

Steven Dapra,

Albuquerque

Editor’s Response

In March of 2009, the congressional Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight issued a report on the ATSDR that called for changes in leadership within the agency and stated that, “time and again ATSDR appears to avoid clearly and directly confronting the most obvious toxic culprits that harm the health of local communities throughout the nation. Instead, they deny, delay, minimize, trivialize or ignore legitimate concerns and health considerations of local communities and well respected scientists and medical professionals.”

PFAs are listed as persistent organic pollutants under the Stockholm Convention, due to their “ubiquitous, persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic nature.” Their production has been phased out by manufacturers such as 3M, DuPont, Daikin and Miteni in the US, Japan and Europe. But hey, if you’re cool with fluorosurfactants (polyfluorinated and perfluorinated) in your groundwater, we know where you can get some cheap land in Clovis.

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