NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections 
Author Message
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

Here is a press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections
 To: National Desk, Environment Writer
 Contact Erik Olson or Sarah Silver of the Natural Resources Defense
         Council, 202-783-7800

   WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A Senate proposal to
curtail federal regulation of toxic pollutants in the U.S. drinking
water supply could result in the exposure of more than 100 million
Americans to numerous contaminants including PCBs, nitrates and
cancer-causing pesticides, according to the Natural Resources Defense
Council, a non-profit national environmental organization.
   The proposal, by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and several Senate
colleagues, is scheduled to be offered as an amendment to the
Environmental Protection Agency's Appropriations bill on Tuesday,
Sept. 8.
   "This plan constitutes a giant step backward in our effort to
provide safe drinking water for all Americans," said Erik Olson, NRDC
senior attorney.  "When found in drinking water at levels above
current standards, the chemicals affected by this proposal pose
significant public health risks."
   "The senator has taken a meat axe to a problem that requires a
scalpel.  This proposal began as an effort to assist very small
communities that found it hard to pay for the regulatory requirements
of the Safe Drinking Water Act," Olson explained.  "A bad idea to
exempt very small communities from some Safe Drinking Water Act rules
became a terrible plan to eliminate dozens of rules for every U.S.
public drinking water system."
   NRDC supports the development of a funding mechanism to allow
small communities to achieve the public health goals of the Safe
Drinking Water Act without pinching their local budgets.
   Domenici's proposal would place a moratorium on regulation of more
than 50 chemicals with known and potential human health risks.  It
would eliminate several regulations, on the books since the 1970s,
for a number of dangerous chemicals.  While Domenici's proposal would
allow EPA to re-regulate certain of these contaminants, this process
likely would take many years.
   Also, Domenici's proposal would erect roadblocks to EPA's
regulation of other major toxic and radioactive chemicals, such as
cancer-causing "disinfection by-products."  A recent study of actual
human cancer cases concludes that about 10,700 cases of colon and
rectal cancer per year may be linked to these chemicals in drinking
water.
  The following is a complete list of affected contaminants:

  DRINKING WATER CONTAMINANTS CURRENTLY REGULATED BY EPA SUBJECT TO
               DOMENICI-BROWN-NICKLES BILL MORATORIUM

 Contaminant                  Potential Health Risk to Humans
 -----------                  -------------------------------
 Acrylamide                   Cancer, damage to nervous system
 Alachlor                     Cancer
 Antimony                     Decreased life span
 Asbestos                     Tumors
 Atrazine                     Reproductive and cardiac damage
 Benzo-a-pyrene               Cancer
 Beryllium                    Cancer, damage to tissues
 Carbofuran                   Nervous and reproductive damage
 Chlordane                    Cancer
 Copper                       Stomach and intestinal distress;
                              Wilson's disease
 Cyanide                      Poisoning, tremors, convulsions,
                              death
 Dalapon                      Damage to kidneys
 DBCP                         Cancer
 Di (2-ethylhexyl) adipate    Damage to liver
 Dichlorobenzene o-           Damage to lungs, liver, kidney,
                              nervous system
 Dichoroethylene              Damage to liver, circulatory, and
  (cis-1,2-)                  nervous systems
 Dichloroethylene             Damage to liver, circulatory, and
  (trans-1,2-)                nervous systems
 Dichloromethane              Cancer, damage to nervous system,
                              heart, lungs
 Dichloropropane              Cancer; liver, lungs, and kidney
                              damage
 Dinoseb                      Thyroid problems, degeneration of
                              testes, others
 Dioxin                       Cancer
 Di (2-ethylhexyl)            Cancer; liver, kidney, and testicular
  phthalate                   damage
 Diquat                       Kidney and gastrointestinal problems/
                              dehydration, cataracts
 Endothall                    Damage to organs and reproductive
                              system
 Endrin                       Convulsions; tremors, ataxia, others
 Epichlorohydrin              Cancer; liver, lungs, and kidney
                              damage
 Ethylbenzene                 Kidney, liver, and nervous system
                              damage
 Ethylene Dibromide           Cancer
 Glyphosate                   Damage to reproductive system
 Heptachlor                   Cancer
 Heptachlor epoxide           Cancer
 Hexachlorobenzene            Cancer; liver, kidney, and ovary
                              damage
 HEX (Hexachloro-
  cyclopentadiene)            Damage to stomach and kidneys
 Monochlorobenzene            Kidney, liver, and nervous system
                              damage
 Nickel                       Heart, liver, other damage
 Oxamyl (vydate)              Decreased body weight
 Pentachlorophenol            Cancer; liver and kidney damage
 Picloram                     Damage to liver
 Polychlorinated
  byphenols (PCBs)            Cancer
 Simazine                     Cancer; shortened life, {*filter*}
                              problems
 Styrene                      Liver and nervous system damage
 Tetrachloroethylene          Cancer
 Thallium                     Damage to liver, kidney, and brain
 Toluene                      Lung, kidney, and nervous system
                              damage
 Trichlorobenzene             Convulsions, brain, liver, kidney,
                              adrenal damage
 Trichloroethane              Cancer; damage to liver, gastric,
                              nervous, and circulatory systems
 Xylene                       Liver, kidney, and nervous system
                              damage
 Barium                       Circulatory system damage*
 Cadmium                      Kidney damage*
 Chromium                     Damage to liver, kidneys, other
                              systems*
 Endrin                       Damage to nervous system and kidney*
 Lead                         Central nervous system damage; highly
                              toxic to infants and pregnant women*
 Lindane                      Damage to liver, kidney, and nervous
                              system*
 Methoxychlor                 Nervous system, liver, and kidney
                              damage*
 Nitrate                      Methemoglobinemia ("Blue-baby
                              syndrome")*
 2, 4-D                       Liver, kidney, and nervous system
                              damage*
 Silvex                       Liver, kidney, and nervous system
                              damage*

 * Regulation of these contaminants date to late 1970s.

 -30-

[Note from NDA: I'm just forwarding the message; I don't work for NDRC.
My apologies for any spelling mistakes.]
--
   The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the University of
     North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Campus Office for Information
        Technology, or the Experimental Bulletin Board Service.
           internet:  bbs.oit.unc.edu or 152.2.22.80



Mon, 20 Feb 1995 10:13:19 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

Quote:

>>Like the irrational fear of radioactivity displayed by several
>>sci.med posters recently, fear of trace contamination with
>>manmade pesticides provokes irrational, disproportionately
>>severe responses. Personally, I would like to see some of
>>this energy directed toward more concrete threats, like that
>>of self-poisoning with unnecessary "health" nostrums and
>>megadose vitamins. The example of L-tryptophan, the cause
>>of EMS in thousands, leaps to mind.

>Certainly, because of one episode of contaminated L-tryptophan, it is
>reasonable to prevent millions of people who by their own choice take
>vitamins above RDAs from doing so.  In view of the cases of cynanide-laced

It is now recognized that the "peak E" story was a highly
simplified version of what actually happened. Now it is
recognized that L-tryptophan itself has EMS-inducing
activity (see, for example, Nature 1992;358:96). So your
attempt to slough the problem off as Denko's negligence
is, well, wrong.

Quote:
>On the other hand, even though {*filter*} cancer rates are rising alarmingly,
>though we know many of these "trace" pesticides are carcinogenic, and
>though we have no idea of how much of these "trace" contaminants accumulate
>into our drinking water, which we injest with far less knowledge or choice,
>it certainly makes sense to remove any protections against these
>contaminants.

Yes. Since we all agree that precious little data supports the
role of bad drinking water in carcinogenesis, we should just
break the bank of innumerable rural communities to regulate
the matter to death. Good logic.

Brian



Tue, 21 Feb 1995 03:56:19 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

Quote:

>Here is a press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

>   WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A Senate proposal to
>curtail federal regulation of toxic pollutants in the U.S. drinking
>water supply could result in the exposure of more than 100 million
>Americans to numerous contaminants including PCBs, nitrates and
>cancer-causing pesticides, according to the Natural Resources Defense
>Council, a non-profit national environmental organization.
>   "This plan constitutes a giant step backward in our effort to
>provide safe drinking water for all Americans," said Erik Olson, NRDC
>senior attorney.  "When found in drinking water at levels above

I'm glad to see Dominici doing something about the regulations.
It is estimated that Albuquerque (pop 500K) may have to pay
$250 million to comply. While that is an immense burden on
Albuquerque (for highly questionable gain), the proportional
burden pales in comparison to that of small, rural communities.
If required to implement the existing regulations, many
small communities would literally go bankrupt.

Like the irrational fear of radioactivity displayed by several
sci.med posters recently, fear of trace contamination with
manmade pesticides provokes irrational, disproportionately
severe responses. Personally, I would like to see some of
this energy directed toward more concrete threats, like that
of self-poisoning with unnecessary "health" nostrums and
megadose vitamins. The example of L-tryptophan, the cause
of EMS in thousands, leaps to mind.

Brian



Mon, 20 Feb 1995 21:27:26 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

Quote:


>>Here is a press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

>>   WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A Senate proposal to
>>curtail federal regulation of toxic pollutants in the U.S. drinking
>>water supply could result in the exposure of more than 100 million
>>Americans to numerous contaminants including PCBs, nitrates and
>>cancer-causing pesticides, according to the Natural Resources Defense
>>Council, a non-profit national environmental organization.
>>   "This plan constitutes a giant step backward in our effort to
>>provide safe drinking water for all Americans," said Erik Olson, NRDC
>>senior attorney.  "When found in drinking water at levels above
>I'm glad to see Dominici doing something about the regulations.
>It is estimated that Albuquerque (pop 500K) may have to pay
>$250 million to comply. While that is an immense burden on
>Albuquerque (for highly questionable gain), the proportional
>burden pales in comparison to that of small, rural communities.
>If required to implement the existing regulations, many
>small communities would literally go bankrupt.
>Like the irrational fear of radioactivity displayed by several
>sci.med posters recently, fear of trace contamination with
>manmade pesticides provokes irrational, disproportionately
>severe responses. Personally, I would like to see some of
>this energy directed toward more concrete threats, like that
>of self-poisoning with unnecessary "health" nostrums and
>megadose vitamins. The example of L-tryptophan, the cause
>of EMS in thousands, leaps to mind.
>Brian

Certainly, because of one episode of contaminated L-tryptophan, it is
reasonable to prevent millions of people who by their own choice take
vitamins above RDAs from doing so.  In view of the cases of cynanide-laced
tylenol and benzine contaminated Perrier, I think we should ban all pain
killers and carbonated water also.

On the other hand, even though {*filter*} cancer rates are rising alarmingly,
though we know many of these "trace" pesticides are carcinogenic, and
though we have no idea of how much of these "trace" contaminants accumulate
into our drinking water, which we injest with far less knowledge or choice,
it certainly makes sense to remove any protections against these
contaminants.

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Tue, 21 Feb 1995 01:49:03 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

[Stuff about L-Tryptophan deleted]b

Quote:

>>On the other hand, even though {*filter*} cancer rates are rising alarmingly,
>>though we know many of these "trace" pesticides are carcinogenic, and
>>though we have no idea of how much of these "trace" contaminants accumulate
>>into our drinking water, which we injest with far less knowledge or choice,
>>it certainly makes sense to remove any protections against these
>>contaminants.

> Yes. Since we all agree that precious little data supports the
> role of bad drinking water in carcinogenesis, we should just
> break the bank of innumerable rural communities to regulate
> the matter to death. Good logic.

> Brian

--

That last bit is not very constructive.

People with concerns about contamination of water, however irrational
those concerns, need to have those concerns recognized and dealt with.

First, those "carcinogenic" contaminants have for the most part never
been shown to cause cancer in humans.  Furthermore they probably never
will be because there will never be a significant number of humans
exposed to any of these materials in sufficient concentration
to even gather evidcence of human
carcinogenesis.  And that is the point I think we need to make in
dealing with these issues.  

There are two pieces of real evidence:  
animal models and human exposure data.

For most, if not all, of the "carcinogens" found in drinking water the
animal models give us some value of risk of cancer, given a certain
exposure and *assuming* that we can transfer the numbers from the
animal model to human exposure.  When you do this you find that for
the most part the risk of human cancer is vanishingly small.

The numbers from the animal models are then to some extent confirmed
by human exposure data.  This comes either from the days when
industrial workers who handled the pesticide or farm workers who
applied it were exposed to orders of magnitude more than would be
allowable today, or from industrial accidents or inadvertent
exposures.  (Dioxin exposures are the most well studied.)  When these
exposures are factored in with the risks from animal models they
predict what would be the expected increase in cancer in the exposed
populations.  For pesticides, these studies either show that the
actual rate of cancer in the exposed populations is no higher than
that predicted by chance, or they show such a slight increase that it
is not clear if this is statistically significant.  From data like
this we cannot accurately predict just how many cancers will be caused
by the exposure, nor can we gaurantee that there is *no* risk that
someone will develop a cancer due to the exposure to the compound in
question.  We *can* however, put an upper limit on the risk and say
that:

"The risk of increased cancer due to this exposure in the affected
population will be *less than* (some number).

Now, it may be argued that if someone in the exposed population *does*
get cancer, they don't care if it's statistically significant or not;
it's certainly significant to them.  But two points must be made here:

First, should Albuquerque spend $250 million to eliminate, say, less
than two excess cancer deaths per year?  (Just to pick a number.)  Or,
would that $250M be better spent elsewhere, say, nutrition, or
prenatal care, or immunizations, or drunk driver programs, or public
transportation to reduce air pollution, or child abuse prevention, or
medical research or . . .   I'm sure you can fill in a *lot* of ideas
that would save more than two lives per year for $250M.

Second, it can be argued that you wouldn't have to spend any money to
remove these contaminants from drinking water if they weren't there in
the first place, so why not just ban the pesticides or whatever other
contaminants you may find and eventually they just won't be there.  I
would agree with this if, for example , you were talking about
contamination by a product or byproduct that had absolutely no benefit
to society, (fill in your own pet peeve:  cigarette smoke, silly
putty, . . .), but the pesticides you are talking about do have a
benefit to society  in increased cooking.net">food production, and other
contaminants from our industrial society also have very real economic
benefits.  (*Please* do not start in on me about farming without
chemical inputs.  That topic has been beaten to death.)

We simply cannot afford to continue to seriously impair our economy by
spending vast sums of money to reduce very, very small risks.  We
*have* to prioritize our problems and spend those funds on the
problems which will give the greatest return on our investment in
improved health of the population.  Spending that $250M on eliminating
those two excess cancer deaths per year, even assuming that all of our
models and assumptions were right, *DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE CHEMICAL
INDUSTRY THINKS A HUMAN LIFE IS WORTH $125M DOLLARS.*  Please do not
try to hang that one on me.  My point here is that there are *a lot*
of better ways to spend $250M that will save orders of magnitude more
lives per year than two.

I hope that the person concerned about pesticide exposure is helped by
this.  The numbers I am using are in the ballpark of those which I
have seen calculated for actual cases.  For the most part the numbers
are available, and I urge people with concerns to seek out the actual
data and place the risks in perspective before making up their minds.

______________
[            ]
[  S O A P   ]
[            ]    There, I'm down/off now.
--------------

Electric Monk                    (Bruce Gaede)

"...and then time started seriously to pass."
--Douglas Adams, _Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency_



Tue, 21 Feb 1995 15:30:02 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections
Quote:

>Here is a press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
>   Also, Domenici's proposal would erect roadblocks to EPA's
>regulation of ...  cancer-causing "disinfection by-products."

                                    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
That's bureaucrat-speak for what's left of typhoid and cholera germs
when the chlorine in chlorinated drinking water kills them.

Just so we all know what's being talked about here.

Looking up the numbers for how many millions of people have died of
typhoid and cholera is left as an exercise for the reader.

Looking through that entire press release, I didn't see a thing
about the actual amounts.  Doubtless it's more hand-wringing over
parts-per-trillion.
--
  Caution: Thermostellar device.          Mike Van Pelt
       Handle with care.                  LSI Logic/Headland Products

     Philosophy students.                 sun!indetech!hsv3!mvp



Wed, 22 Feb 1995 09:19:39 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

Quote:

>severe responses. Personally, I would like to see some of
>this energy directed toward more concrete threats, like that
>of self-poisoning with unnecessary "health" nostrums and
>megadose vitamins. The example of L-tryptophan, the cause
>of EMS in thousands, leaps to mind.

About 35 people died and 1500 got sick.  (I got this information from
a published interview with Richard Wurtman of MIT.)  Of course the fact
that the numbers were small doesn't mean the incident was
insignificant.  But the fact that you feel the need to exaggerate the
figure as well as your use of unjustified pejorative terms such as
"self-poisoning" is indicative of your inability to discuss this issue
rationally.

We can also note that the people who suffered from poisoning from the
contaminated tryptophan had made a deliberate decision to take a risk,
based on the information available to them.  I don't have an opinion on
this question of supposedly contaminated water, but people don't have
that much choice about what water to drink.  The two issues are
scarcely parallel.

--
It is a poor sort of skepticism which merely delights in challenging
those claims which conflict with one's own belief system.  
                                                          --Bogus quote



Wed, 22 Feb 1995 16:36:00 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

[...]

Quote:
>We simply cannot afford to continue to seriously impair our economy by
>spending vast sums of money to reduce very, very small risks.  We
>*have* to prioritize our problems and spend those funds on the
>problems which will give the greatest return on our investment in
>improved health of the population.  Spending that $250M on eliminating
>those two excess cancer deaths per year, even assuming that all of our
>models and assumptions were right, *DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE CHEMICAL
>INDUSTRY THINKS A HUMAN LIFE IS WORTH $125M DOLLARS.*  Please do not
>try to hang that one on me.  My point here is that there are *a lot*
>of better ways to spend $250M that will save orders of magnitude more
>lives per year than two.

>I hope that the person concerned about pesticide exposure is helped by
>this.  The numbers I am using are in the ballpark of those which I
>have seen calculated for actual cases.  For the most part the numbers
>are available, and I urge people with concerns to seek out the actual
>data and place the risks in perspective before making up their minds.

>______________
>[            ]
>[  S O A P   ]
>[            ]    There, I'm down/off now.
>--------------

>Electric Monk                    (Bruce Gaede)

        It seems at times that the American public is prone to
        hysteria, especially when its something for which
        there is some, but hardly conclusive, evidence.  I don't
        know if this is because most people get their information
        filtered through the non-technically-trained press, but
        I like to think so.

        Think about the incredable bru-ha-ha about the
        GREENHOUSE EFFECT [evil music], during the most recent
        drought in the US.  Everyone was convince that CO2
        emmissions had caused the whole thing and it was time
        to regulate, regulate, REGULATE!  This year, thanks
        to El Nino, most of the nation has gotten more rain than
        it wants.  Here in central Texas, all the lakes and resvoirs
        are over-full.  In other words, the GREENHOUSE EFFECT
        (evil music) was so much hype.  I'm not denying the
        existence of a Greenhouse effect, I'm saying we know
        little about the realities of our climate, and reducing
        it to one model and proposing legislation on that is
        ludicrous.

        As for carcinogens in drinking water, recent experiments
        have shown that low levels of dioxins-- yes big bad, let's
        close down Love C{*filter*}before all the kiddies die, dioxins--
        in the diet can *stop* the growth of {*filter*} cancer in rats,
        and cases has caused it to go into remission.

        What does this mean?  Are dioxins the next wonder drug?
        Who knows.  What we *can* glean immediatly from this is that,
        on the whole, we have sketchy data at best to work with
        when trying to figure out complex systems, and that to pass
        sweeping legislations based on that sketchy data is fool-
        hardy and wasteful.

        Living better through chemistry,
        Mike "Pi" Freeman



Sat, 25 Feb 1995 00:15:00 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

Quote:


>[Stuff about L-Tryptophan deleted]b

>>>On the other hand, even though {*filter*} cancer rates are rising alarmingly,
>>>though we know many of these "trace" pesticides are carcinogenic, and
>>>though we have no idea of how much of these "trace" contaminants accumulate
>>>into our drinking water, which we injest with far less knowledge or choice,
>>>it certainly makes sense to remove any protections against these
>>>contaminants.

>> Yes. Since we all agree that precious little data supports the
>> role of bad drinking water in carcinogenesis, we should just
>> break the bank of innumerable rural communities to regulate
>> the matter to death. Good logic.
>> Brian
>--

>That last bit is not very constructive.
>First, those "carcinogenic" contaminants have for the most part never
>been shown to cause cancer in humans.  Furthermore they probably never
>will be because there will never be a significant number of humans
>exposed to any of these materials in sufficient concentration
>to even gather evidcence of human carcinogenesis.  And that is the point
>I think we need to make in dealing with these issues.

I agree that the last bit wasn't constructive.  As a chemical engineer, I
have been sensitized to people's concerns about chemical risks.  And
there are several instances where an activity is a high-risk activity for
cancer; most prominently with smoking.  However, from a purely technical
point of view, there will not ever be an ethical way to prove that
smoking _causes_ cancer--it will simply be highly correlated, and it
_could_ be that the Martians beam cancer rays into people who smoke
because they show up better in IR, or whatever.

In the case of traces (ppm levels) of contaminants in drinking water, there
are two major fears that need to be addressed.  First, people do not have
much direct control over what comes out of their tap--they get what they
get, for the most part, and my understanding is that buying bottled water is
rather expensive for the long haul.  Second, children tend to be at greater
risk for exposure to these things, and children drink tap water.  Parents
tend to get kind of {*filter*}ly (at best :) when presented with nebulous threats
to their children.

Quote:
>There are two pieces of real evidence:  
>animal models and human exposure data.
>For most, if not all, of the "carcinogens" found in drinking water the
>animal models give us some value of risk of cancer, given a certain
>exposure and *assuming* that we can transfer the numbers from the
>animal model to human exposure.  When you do this you find that for
>the most part the risk of human cancer is vanishingly small.

But it does exist, and as any probability text will tell you, even events
with a zero probability can occur (if this confuses you, don't feel bad, I
didn't believe it myself :).  The practical upshot of this is that there is
some risk associated with drinking these contaminants, but it will probably
never be quanitfied.  And if it's a marginal risk that I can have eliminated
by means of government regulation, why shouldn't I push to have it done?

After all, while an extra two deaths to cancer may not be significant
statistically, it is significant to me if I'm one of those two, or know one
of those two.  But given the enourmous number of suspectied carcinogens we
are exposed to daily (I hope you're not eating a peanut butter sandwich
while you read this--you know that aflatoxins, which are highly
carcinogenic, are found on slightly moldy nuts :), it would be difficult at
best to point to _one_ specific trigger unless you were exposed at levels
that would be reasonably high.  (And even then, it's hard to be sure; I
mean, you could breathe benzene all your career, and it _could_ be those 5
ppm of antimony you drank daily that did you in.)

Quote:
>First, should Albuquerque spend $250 million to eliminate, say, less
>than two excess cancer deaths per year?  

You are rather naively assuming that because Albuquerque doesn't spend $250 M
on water cleanup that it wouldn't ordinarily have to spend that it would
spend it "more wisely" on, say, preventative medicine.  More likely, it will
go to fund police departments, or get kicked back to taxpayers (or other
people, depending on how clean your government is :), or whatever.

Quote:
>Second, it can be argued that you wouldn't have to spend any money to
>remove these contaminants from drinking water if they weren't there in
>the first place, so why not just ban the pesticides or whatever other
>contaminants you may find and eventually they just won't be there.  

The main problem with this point is that it assumes that these compounds are
not terribly persistent in the environment.  Unfortunately, the desireable
characteristics of most pesticides is what makes them so hazardous--after
all, their primary purpose is to kill things, and it's helpful if they kill
things longer.  So, most pesticides, such as chlordane, tend to persist.
Also, they do not necessarily move quickly through the soil to get to the
water supply, thus even if we were to stop using all pesticides tomorrow, it
could be years before the levels became undetectable.

Quote:
>We simply cannot afford to continue to seriously impair our economy by
>spending vast sums of money to reduce very, very small risks.  We
>*have* to prioritize our problems and spend those funds on the
>problems which will give the greatest return on our investment in
>improved health of the population.  

Spoken like a true engineer!  However, political decisions such as this one
are rarely made on their scientific merits, but on who raises the most
clamor.  And our society displays some distrust of the chemical industry in
these matters.  And when put in terms of "Well, we could spend $250M and
save what we think might be two lives, or spend $250M and (say) try to lower
infant mortality rates" you are trying to prioritize one group over another.
This comes off as a little cold-hearted, really.

I'm not sure what the answer is--I can sympathize with communities that
would be required to spend huge sums for what would seem to be a nominal
improvement in quality of life.  On the other hand, I feel that the state
has an interest in demanding and receiving safe drinking water (promotes
the General Welfare, don't you know).

Oh, well, just my thoughts...
JK
--
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  John Kasab                             "I rarely speak in absolutes."

      The NSF and UW--Madison don't speak for me, nor I for them.



Wed, 22 Feb 1995 09:33:09 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

Quote:

>>First, should Albuquerque spend $250 million to eliminate, say, less
>>than two excess cancer deaths per year?  

>You are rather naively assuming that because Albuquerque doesn't spend $250 M
>on water cleanup that it wouldn't ordinarily have to spend that it would
>spend it "more wisely" on, say, preventative medicine.  More likely, it will
>go to fund police departments, or get kicked back to taxpayers (or other
>people, depending on how clean your government is :), or whatever.

This kinda dinged one of my "hot buttons".

There seems to be theis feeling that if money is left in the hands of taxpayers
this is somehow wated bucks.

First, individuals can make a lot of risk-reducing decisions with $250 million.
How many houses could be tested for Radon, and fixed up if that potent but
common carconogen is found?  How many cars with air-bags or ABS brakes could be
bought?

Second, if a taxpayer gets a bolus of money and does NOT buy a new car with
airbags but instead reroofs his house or takes a vacation or puts it in the
bank towards their kids' college or retirment, it seems wrong to say that the
money was somehoe wasted because it was a 1/500000 part of the money needed to
buy a system that might save two lives.

If indeed a quarter billion dollars is being spent to save two lives this is an
emotional decision IMHO, and almost ANY other use of the money would be more
useful.

-dk



Sat, 25 Feb 1995 02:18:28 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

Quote:

>>First, should Albuquerque spend $250 million to eliminate, say, less
>>than two excess cancer deaths per year?  

>You are rather naively assuming that because Albuquerque doesn't spend $250 M
>on water cleanup that it wouldn't ordinarily have to spend that it would
>spend it "more wisely" on, say, preventative medicine.  More likely, it will
>go to fund police departments, or get kicked back to taxpayers (or other
>people, depending on how clean your government is :), or whatever.

Sorry, I can't subscribe to this cynical philosophy. $250 M for a town
of 500K is a horrendous burden, one that must be thoroughly justified
with respect to the threat to the public health. This hasn't
happened. Furthermore, smaller communities, lacking economy of
scale, are facing a far higher proportional burden than this,
and with far lower tax base.

I would like to see public health expenditures determined as
a function of actual risk. There are plenty of real risks out
there, including many that are better quantified and understood
than draconian monitoring requirements for groundwater
contaminants.

Brian



Sat, 25 Feb 1995 22:20:11 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections

Quote:

>>First, should Albuquerque spend $250 million to eliminate, say, less
>>than two excess cancer deaths per year?  

>You are rather naively assuming that because Albuquerque doesn't spend $250 M
>on water cleanup that it wouldn't ordinarily have to spend that it would
>spend it "more wisely" on, say, preventative medicine.  More likely, it will
>go to fund police departments, or get kicked back to taxpayers (or other
>people, depending on how clean your government is :), or whatever.

I don't think he was assuming that at all.  What he said was,
these communities don't have that kind of money.  Congress or
the executive branch has developed this {*filter*} tendancy to pass
laws and regulations telling these municipalities what they have
to do but not giving them any means to do it.  That way, those
who make the decisions do not have to accept the political consequences
for carrying them out.  It is similar to what parliament did to
the American colonies that provoked the revolution, and it would
be only just if there was a similar rebellion against Washington
for doing so now.

--
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gordon Banks  N3JXP      | "Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and

----------------------------------------------------------------------------



Sun, 26 Feb 1995 05:47:22 GMT
 NRDC Criticizes Domenici Plan to Gut Drinking Water Protections
The previous articles have seemed to imply that Alberqueque is going to
spend $250 million to update its treatment processes SOLELY TO COMPLY
with particular standards.

As an environmental engineering professor, very familiar with the issue,
I seriously doubt that most of this money is attributable to changes in
drinking water standards.  It suggests to me that the Alberqueque
drinking water treatment plant was overloaded and/or badly in need of
upgrading anyway.  Given this situation, the MARGINAL COSTS of complying
with additional standards would be relatively small.

I would hope that someone more familiar with the details on the ground
with respect to this matter can clarify.

CN Haas
Betz Professor of Environmental Engineering
Drexel University
Philadelphia
<solely my own opinion>



Sun, 26 Feb 1995 20:41:41 GMT
 
 [ 13 post ] 

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