New papers provide tools for health protective action

I am pleased to share two recently published scientific policy papers that I co-authored, on implementing health protective policies and practices around hazardous chemicals. Two simultaneous publications – the Evidence Evaluation paper and Epidemiology Toolkit paper and- which is intended to be helpful for government regulatory and non-regulatory actions as well as private industry initiatives, to support health protective policies and practices.

Louisville, KY children at the fenceline facility.

Louisville, KY children at the fenceline facility. Photo by E. Crowe

Evidence Evaluation paper

Conduct Evidence Evaluations That Are Transparent, Timely And Can Lead To Health Protection Actions (free download here) provides case studies of several hazardous chemicals and agents, including: perfuorooctanoic acid (PFOA); Very Low Frequency – Electric Magnetic Field (ELF-EMF field); the herbicide glyphosate found in Monsanto’s Bayer Roundup product; and, Bisphenol A (BPA).

The co-authors provide a perspective on the various reasons for the different evaluation results, which lead to delays and inadequate public health protection.

Entering our long work experience in the context of science policy, we suggest some strategies that can be used to overcome this barrier to health protective actions, including:

  • better use of hazard and exposure data;
  • setting timelines and deadlines for completing chemical assessments;
  • and, minimize the influence of financial conflict of interest.

Dr. Monica Unseld, PhD, MPH, noted, “As scientists, we are trained to create hypotheses, and we are also trained to reject hypotheses. Existing and traditional evaluation methods are ineffective. Communities disproportionately affected are still sick and dying. We must try new experiments The authors have presented problems and points of intervention, making it easier for researchers and communities to try new approaches to save lives.

Epidemiology Toolkit paper

A great companion article that I also enjoyed by the author, viz A Toolkit for Detecting Misused Epidemiological Methods (free download here). It provides a number of specific tools that can be used to implement the above recommendations.

the’Epidemiology Toolkit’ provides a tool to identify and address “the repertoire of methods, techniques, arguments, and tactics that can be used to falsify science for … “. It has been used by researchers in several journal publications, and we expect more applications in the future.

The matter is urgent

The structural racism and classism that continue to harm and poison low-income people and communities of color must be addressed. Science and policy have repeatedly failed the Environmental Justice (EJ) community. For example, a report by Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA) noted that “there are more than 12,000 high-risk chemical facilities in America – and approximately 40% of US citizens live within three miles of one or more.” That means more than 124 million people live every day with the threat of chemical leaks, spills, and explosions that endanger their health, safety, and ultimately their lives. The people who live in these “Fence Zones” are disproportionately Black and Latino, and the poverty rate in their communities is higher than the rest of America (see Life at the Fenceline)

Dr. Mark Mitchell, MD, MPH, physician and co-author of Evidence Evaluation paper, warns that people get sick and die every day from chemical exposure. “When I visit the EJ community, I find that people are disproportionately sick, poisoned by the poison that comes out of the chimney. It is not unusual to lose EJ leaders for the same reason”.

Learn More and Take Action

Please support the work of Coming Clean and our partners by reading about the Louisville Charter for Safer Chemicals, sharing, and advocating online.


Conduct Evidence Evaluations That Are Transparent, Timely And Can Lead To Health Protection Actions (free download here). Co-authors: Nicholas Chartres, Jennifer B. Sass, David Gee, Simona A. Bălan, Linda Birnbaum, Vincent James Cogliano, Courtney Cooper, Kristi Pullen Fedinick, Roy M. Harrison, Marike Kolossa-Gehring, Daniele Mandrioli, Mark A. Mitchell, Susan L. Norris, Christopher J. Portier, Kurt Straif and Theo Vermeire

A Toolkit for Detecting Misused Epidemiological Methods (free download here). Co-authors: Colin L. Soskolne, Shira Kramer, Juan Pablo Ramos-Bonilla, Daniele Mandrioli, Jennifer Sass, Michael Gochfeld, Carl F. Cranor, Shailesh Advani, Lisa A. Bero


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