• 13 FEB 16
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    Science for Sale: Making a cancer cluster disappear (Joel Moscowitz)

    For those on this list who do not get the blog postings from Joel Moscowitz’s site I suggest you do so. Below is his latest which reminds me of a number of possible EMR related cancer clusters in Australia which were conveniently made to disappear, such as the brain tumour cases in RMIT Building 108, in Melbourne (2006). In this case, five staff members in April and May 2006 were diagnosed with brain tumours, as well as two others in 1999 and 2001. Five of the seven cases worked on the top floor of the building and all but one have/had worked in the building for the past 10 years. The other two cases were apparently located on floors 11 and 14. When I sent the available incidence data to Lloyd Morgan from the Board of Directors of the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS)he said that the RMIT brain tumor cluster was extraordinary compared to other clusters that he has seen because of the small time window for the diagnoses and the apparently small common space where they worked. As for the likelihood of the cluster being a chance event, using U.S statistics as an example, Morgan stated:

    “Considering the incidence of all brain tumors [USA statistics], if I just take the 5 cases in one year, this would require a population on the floor 17 of about 34,460 people. If the 5 brain tumors found in one year are all benign, the population would be close to double. The result is basically the same. This is a quick way of saying that the probability that this cluster is a chance finding is nonexistent.”

    Despite this, the so-called expert finding for RMIT building 108 was that the number of brain tumour cases on floor 17 was not a cluster and it was just a coincidence! And of course, with the caliber of scientists and spin merchants controlling the EMR debate in Australia, such a finding is pre-ordained…..

    A union official later stated to me that they were not happy with this but were concerned that if they took it further and challenged to expert’s findings, retaliatory action against the union might occur.

    Enough of my rant and now on to Joel’s posting:

    From Joel Moscowitz:

    The following article by the Center for Public Integrity documents how the chemical industry protects its interests by co-opting scientists and the public health establishment.

    The telecom/wireless industry has employed the same playbook originally developed by Big Tobacco to manufacture doubt about the harm of its products. If you don’t believe me, see the latest New York Times article on CDC’s reversal of its cell phone radiation warnings and Microwave News‘ coverage of this story about how an industry influences government policy through its scientific consultants. Also see Norm Alster’s book, “Captured agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is dominated by the industries it presumably regulates” my post, “Government Failure to Address Wireless Radiation Risks,” and Dr. Dariusz Leszczynski’s blog, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.”

    Making a cancer cluster disappear

    After a record number of brain tumors at a chemical plant, industry launched a flawed study that obscured the extent of the problem

    David Heath, Center for Public Integrity, Feb 10, 2016

    Science and opinion have become increasingly conflated, in large part because of corporate influence. As we explain in “Science for Sale,” an investigative series by the Center for Public Integrity and co-published with Vice.com, industry-backed research has exploded “” often with the aim of obscuring the truth “” as government-funded science dwindles.

    “… More than 7,500 men had worked at the plant since it opened in 1941. Tracking those who had died was a daunting task. It took three years, but scientists at OSHA and their brethren at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, would discover 23 brain-tumor deaths there “” double the normal rate. It was the largest cluster of work-related brain tumors ever reported, and it became national news, catching the attention of The Washington Post, The New York Times and even Walter Cronkite.

    The leading suspect was vinyl chloride, a chemical used to make polyvinyl chloride plastic. PVC is found in an endless array of products from plastic wrap to vinyl siding to children”s toys. Industry studies already had found higher-than-expected rates of brain cancer at vinyl chloride plants, and in 1979, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or IARC, part of the World Health Organization, took the unequivocal position that vinyl chloride caused brain tumors.

    Yet today, a generation later, the scientific literature largely exonerates vinyl chloride. A 2000 industry review of brain cancer deaths at vinyl chloride plants found that the chemical”s link to brain cancer “remains unclear.” Citing that study and others, IARC in 2008 reversed itself.

    However, a Center for Public Integrity review of thousands of once-confidential documents shows that the industry study cited by IARC was flawed, if not rigged. Although that study was supposed to tally all brain cancer deaths of workers exposed to vinyl chloride, Union Carbide didn”t include Malone”s death. In fact, the company counted only one of the 23 brain-tumor deaths in Texas City.

    The Center”s investigation found that because of the way industry officials designed the study, it left out workers known to have been exposed to vinyl chloride, including some who had died of brain tumors. Excluding even a few deaths caused by a rare disease can dramatically change the results of a study.”


    Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director
    Center for Family and Community Health
    School of Public Health
    University of California, Berkeley

    Electromagnetic Radiation Safety

    Website: http://www.saferemr.com
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SaferEMR
    News Releases: http://pressroom.prlog.org/jmm716/
    Twitter: @berkeleyprc

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