On the eve of a major conference on health effects of DDT, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control published a study it had suppressed for several months, detailing pollution effects in the Great Lakes area. The author of the study, demoted but still outspoken, was grudgingly granted permission to attend the Kenaga International Conference on DDT and Health, which opened yesterday at Alma College in Alma, Michigan.
Science won the skirmish, getting the study pried out of CDC. News coverage of the conference stopped short of spectacular so far: Only local Michigan media outlets provided coverage. If we won the war, but no one knew . . . ?
The Morning Sun suggested that further studies of health effects in the area are required, and that no successful cleanup of a toxic site is ever done without health studies showing the need.
[Jane] Keon[, chairwoman of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force] hasn’t read the entire report but did read the portions about Gratiot County.
“There’s no new information, and everything mentioned is well-known and verified by ATSDR and CDC,” she said. “I understand that in addition to 200 researchers and much peer review the report data was reviewed by state and local health departments in the areas of concern without the complaint that the science was weak.
“We in the task force view the report as further proof that a full-blown health study is needed in Gratiot County. From our own studies we also know that communities with contaminated sites that have a health study to point to get very thorough cleanups, while communities that do not have a health study do not get thorough cleanups.”
The task force has twice applied for grants to perform a comprehensive local heath study but were turned down both times.
“The reasons offered (for rejection) seemed lame and illogical,” Keon said. “One time we were told that we didn’t have enough data, and yet that is why we desired the health study – to have a scientific collection of data.”
A citizens’ group in Washington, D.C., the Center for Public Integrity, obtained a copy of the study last year and made it available on the internet. There is no indication I can find of whether there were changes made in the study between the leaking and the formal publication.