Case in point: the recent 240 page report published online by Obama's cancer panel, stating
[the] proportion of cancer cases caused by environmental exposures has been “grossly underestimated.” It warns of “grievous harm” from chemicals and other hazards, and cites “a growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer.” full articleThis comes as no surprise. Check out an older post on the dangers of living in proximity to a coal plant. The biggest problem is that, where people live near such facilities, making causal connections is much easier. When it comes to water, air, and food contamination for people sprawled around the country at large, it's more difficult to make correlations.
Some more on the report:
Nearly 80,000 chemicals are in use in the United States, and yet only a few hundred have been tested for safety, the report notes. It criticizes the nation’s regulatory approach, calling it reactionary rather than precautionary, which means that the government waits for proof of harm before taking action, instead of taking preventive steps when there is uncertainty about a chemical. Regulation is ineffective, the panel says, in part because of inadequate staffing and financing, overly complex rules, weak laws, uneven enforcement and undue industry influence.
The report looks at contaminants from a variety of sources: industry, agriculture, air and water, medical imaging and contaminated military sites. It also considers natural hazards, like radon gas in homes and arsenic in drinking water. The report concludes, “At this time, we do not know how much environmental exposures influence cancer risk.” more
This is not without criticism. An epidemiologist from the cancer society claims the work is
“unbalanced by its implication that pollution is the major cause of cancer,” and had presented an unproven theory — that environmentally caused cases are grossly underestimated — as if it were a fact. more