February 28, 2011

LePage using 'junk science' not 'sound science'

In his proposed environmental rollbacks, Gov. Paul LePage is trying to give the impression that he has science on his side, which could not be further from the truth.

For example, regarding the Department of Environmental Protection rule to phase out Bisphenol A in children's products, LePage claims the scientific studies he has seen do not support a BPA ban. He must not be looking very hard, because I know about hundreds of independent, peer-reviewed studies on the negative health impacts of BPA.

LePage also claims that we need to consider "sound science" rather than "junk science." These terms are nothing short of a smoke screen put up by opponents of regulation. To them, "sound science" simply means the science that supports their view point.

In reality, the "sound science" in the case of BPA are hundreds of studies done by independent scientists who have subjected their work to scrutiny from their scientific peers (the gold standard for good science). The "junk science" are the handful of studies that were funded by the chemical industry, the very people who profit from BPA's continued use.

We are all exposed to BPA because it doesn't stay put in the everyday products it is in (notably food and beverage can linings). BPA triggers improper hormone signaling and is linked to neurological and reproductive defects in fetuses and young children, as well as breast and prostate cancers, all at low levels of exposure.

There is no defensible reason for LePage to ignore hundreds of high-quality scientific studies and instead protect the financial interests of the chemical industry, which doesn't even reside in Maine, over the health of Maine's children.

Gail L. Carlson is visiting assistant professor and research scientist, Environmental Studies Program, Colby College, Waterville

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