Bogus Disclaimer on Oil Spill Health Study: Lead Researcher Says “We Can Never Demonstrate Exact Cause and Effect”, Oil Spill Action, March 3, 2011:
[...] You see the doublespeak begin in a Channel 8 Fox News report out of New Orleans, with the lead researcher saying that the study “…will help us learn if oil spills and exposure to crude oil, dispersants and fumes affect physical and mental health.” Don’t get too excited, because the researcher also carves out ample wiggle room, suggesting that the ultimate goal is impossible to achieve: “…we can never demonstrate exact cause and effect or provide proof in this type of observational study.”
Then the Fox report says this: “…investigators have their work cut out for them when it comes to determining whether high levels of benzene and other chemicals are due solely to the spill. She said benzene exposure can come from cigarette smoke and something as simple as pumping gasoline.”
Some environmental activists are already questioning the study (before it even gets going). In effect, why bother if you begin by saying you can’t determine cause and effect?
The fact is you can determine a great percentage of cause and effect. I’ve tried cases where oil companies attempt to dismiss their responsibility in causing cancer in their workers, because the victims smoked, but we’ve been able to show that other toxic exposures can be blamed as well. There’s actually a lot of precedent – if anyone wants to find it. [...]
Read the report here.
Study to Track Gulf Cleanup Workers' Health, Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2011:
[...] BP wanted "an independent and credible review" of any potential link between cleanup workers' heath problems and the spill, said Richard Heron, BP's chief medical officer. The government scientists overseeing the worker-health study are "very credible," he said. ...
The spill study won't prove definitively whether BP oil caused any health problems, said scientists who helped design it. The Gulf region has so many other pollution sources, from chemical plants to boats, that proving the spill caused anyone's illness will be exceedingly hard.
Drivers pumping gas into their cars often breathe in some of the same chemicals, such as benzene, that cleanup workers may have inhaled from the spilled oil, said Maureen Lichtveld, chairwoman of the environmental health sciences department at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and one of the experts consulted in designing the study.
It's "very difficult, in general environmental health, to really isolate a specific cause and effect," she said. But, she said, "we may get some clues." [...]
Read the report here.