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Letters to the Editor Issue 137

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 137 - July 2007

The Mushroom Cloud that Caused Autism

Opinion by: Kenneth Stoller MD FAAP with Anne McElroy Dachel

In the first article in this series on autism, a mercurial finger was pointed at the high level of mercury children received from their vaccines and the huge upswing in the autism rate. It was noted that the background level of mercury pollution from coal-fire power plants and other sources (such as dental amalgam) was so high that one in every six women in the US has a level of mercury in her body high enough to affect her children’s health. The cost to society of these affected children amounts to billions of dollars annually, and the ultimate cost of caring for all those disabled will cost trillions. Lastly, the point was made that this isn’t so much about autism as it is about the future of human life on this planet if we don’t stop mercury pollution.

Concerning the issue of autism, the press has failed to present both sides in the heated debate over a possible link between vaccines and this devastating disorder. The last word is often given to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, without any mention of the vast web of conflict of interest ties between CDC employees and the pharmaceutical industry.

The studies produced by the CDC and others haven’t ended the controversy. The results from published population studies come under attack each time officials think they have the convincing science to settle the issue.

Using these epidemiological studies, the head of the CDC, Dr Julie Gerberding told the public, “What we know today is based on many studies that have looked at children in various populations around the world including the United States and have involved thousands of children that the preponderance of evidence consistently does not reveal an association between Thimerosal and autism. These studies have been looked at by some of the best and brightest scientists across the world and in the United States through our Institutes of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.”

Who are “The Best and the Brightest”?
Studies by ‘some of the best and brightest scientists across the world’ conjure up images of white-coated experts in state-of-the-art laboratories researching all the possible side effects that could result from using mercury in vaccines. Despite exhausting research, they just came up empty.

Notice the often-repeated phrase is ‘studies show no link’ not, ‘research shows no link’. That’s an important distinction. The scientists in this case are statisticians sitting at computers running the numbers on children and vaccinations instead of in a laboratory doing testing on the toxicity of the mercury-based vaccine preservative Thimerosal, or in the field actually examining affected children. The figures these researchers come up with are the proof used to disprove any connection between vaccines and autism.

To read the entire article, and access the interesting links go to

Source: Tim Bolen – Consumer Advocate

Study Warns of Health Risk From Ethanol

by Keay Davidson

If ethanol ever gains widespread use as a clean alternative fuel to gasoline, people with respiratory illnesses may be in trouble.

A new study out of Stanford says pollution from ethanol could end up creating a worse health hazard than gasoline, especially for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

“Ethanol is being promoted as a clean and renewable fuel that will reduce global warming and air pollution,” Mark Z Jacobson, the study’s author and an atmospheric scientist at Stanford, said in a statement. “But our results show that a high blend of ethanol poses an equal or greater risk to public health than gasoline, which already causes significant health damage.”

The study appears in the online edition of Environmental Science & Technology, a publication of the American Chemical Society. It comes at a time when the Bush administration is pushing plans to boost ethanol production, and the nation’s automakers are required by 2012 to have half their vehicles run on flex fuel, allowing the use of either gasoline or ethanol.

Jacobson used a computer to model how pollution from ethanol fuel would affect different parts of the country in 2020, when ethanol-burning vehicles are expected to be common on America’s roadways.

He found that ethanol-burning cars could boost levels of toxic ozone gas in urban areas, but that Los Angeles residents would be by far the hardest hit because of the city’s reliance on the automobile and environmental factors that tend to concentrate smog there.

His study showed that the city would experience a 9 percent increase in the rate of ozone-related respiratory deaths – 120 more deaths per year – compared with what would have been projected in 2020 assuming continued gasoline use.

Pollution from ethanol would be riskier than pollution from gasoline because when ethanol breaks down in the atmosphere, it generates considerably more ozone. Ozone is a highly corrosive gas that damages the delicate tissues of the lungs. In fact, it’s so corrosive that it can crack rubber and wear away statues, Jacobson told The Chronicle.

Jacobson’s study focuses on the health effects of an ethanol type called E85, a highly publicized fuel composed of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Last month, California Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, along with Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both R-Maine, introduced a bill to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles. The bill would “require fuel suppliers to increase the percentage of low-carbon fuels – biodiesel, E85… hydrogen, electricity, and others – in the motor vehicle fuel supply” by 2015, according to a March 30 press release from Feinstein’s office.

Reacting to Jacobson’s study, Feinstein issued a statement Tuesday.

“We should proceed with caution,” she said. “All of these fuels emit certain pollutants, and those pollutants have to be known and evaluated for their health effects. There can be no real rush to judgement about these fuels.

“We’ve got to find a way to develop low-carbon fuels that do not have adverse health effects.”

A spokesman for the state Air Resources Board said officials there were still studying prepublication copies of the Jacobson paper and would have no immediate comment.

“This is the first we’ve heard of it,” said board spokesman Dimitri Stanich. In the meantime, he said, “there are multiple avenues for reducing California’s carbon ‘footprint,’ (with) hydrogen and ethanol being part of that plan. We consider (E85) as part of the strategy.”

The study also attracted the attention of environmental scientists.

The basic principles of Jacobson’s paper are sound, David Pimentel, an ecology professor emeritus at Cornell University, wrote in an e-mail.

“The burning of ethanol releases large quantities of ozone, a serious air pollutant,” he said. “In addition, the use of ethanol as a fuel releases formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, plus benzene and butadiene. All of these are carcinogens and are a threat to public health.”

Jacobson’s study, however, concluded that the cancer-causing effects of ethanol would be roughly comparable to those of gasoline.

Chris Somerville, a Stanford professor who chairs the executive committee for the recently announced BP-funded Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois, said the study was interesting and it “should be followed up with experimental work.”

It is “possible that ethanol will not be the major biofuel in 2020,” he said. “I see ethanol as a transitional fuel that will eventually be replaced by… second-generation fuels. I am just uncertain whether it will be done by 2010 or whether it may take longer.”

The institute is slated to develop a new generation of carbon-neutral biofuels, including ethanol.

Alex Farrell, a Berkeley professor of energy and resources, was also complimentary of the study.

“It’s a good scientific paper that has taken the first look at the air-quality impacts of ethanol in a worst-case scenario,” he said. “It is definitely my opinion that ethanol is not the only solution to air pollution.”

Jacobson’s computer model for Los Angeles is extremely high-resolution, as such models go. It breaks the Los Angeles atmosphere into a three-dimensional grid akin to 100,000 ‘boxes’ stacked more than 10 miles high. Each box measures 3 miles wide and a few hundred feet deep.

He said he isn’t surprised that no one previously tried to model the long-term health impacts of ethanol in such detail “because it’s very complicated”.

“The only reason I was able to do it is because I’ve been building this model for 18 years now,” he said. “You really require a humongous model.”

Source: Elwood Richard

Fluoridation Doing More Harm Than Good, Studies Show

Contrary to belief, fluoridation is damaging teeth with little cavity reduction, according to a review of recent studies reported in Clinical Oral Investigations.[1]

Pizzo and colleagues reviewed English-language fluoridation studies published from January 2001 to June 2006 and write, “Several epidemiological studies conducted in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities suggest that [fluoridation] may be unnecessary for caries prevention?”

They also report that fluoride-damaged teeth spiked upwards to 51% from the 10-12% found over 60 years ago in ‘optimally’ fluoridated communities. Dental fluorosis is white-spotted, yellow, brown-stained and/or pitted teeth.

Fluoridation began in 1945 when dentists thought that ingested fluoride incorporated into children’s developing tooth enamel to prevent cavities. However, Pizzo’s group reports that fluoride ingestion confers little, if any, benefit and fails to reduce oral health disparities in low-income Americans.

Also, any difference in fluoride tooth enamel surface concentration between fluoridated and low-fluoridated areas is minimal. And the relationship between higher enamel fluoride levels to less tooth decay was not found.

“Some risk of increasing fluorosis may be attributed to the ingestion of powdered infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water [and] foods and beverages processed in fluoridated areas. Furthermore, the use of dietary fluoride supplements during the first 6 years of life is associated with a significant increase in the risk of developing fluorosis,” they write.

Lawyer Paul Beeber, President, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation says, “Recent news reports claiming fluoride-free bottled water caused the cavity increase trends in toddlers are implausible because rising fluorosis rates clearly indicate that children are over-fluoridated, not under-fluoridated.”

“There’s no dispute that too much fluoride damages teeth, actually making them more decay-prone. Research is indicated to see if fluoride is causing the cavity escalation,” says Beeber.

Some studies Pizzo reviewed focused on communities that stopped water fluoridation. “after the cessation, caries prevalence did not rise, remained almost the same or even decreased further,” writes Pizzo’s group.

“In most European countries, where [water fluoridation] has never been adopted, a substantial decline [75%] in caries prevalence has been reported in the last decades,” they report.

To avoid dental fluorosis, the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control advise against mixing concentrated infant formulas with fluoridated water.

“Fluoride is bone- and health-damaging as well,” says Beeber.


1.    “Community Water Fluoridation and Caries Prevention: A Critical Review,” Clinical Oral Investigations, by Giuseppe Pizzo & Maria R. Piscopo & Ignazio Pizzo & Giovanna Giuliana 2007 Feb 27; [Epub ahead of print].

Further Information

Paul Beeber, President New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation


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