Wednesday, December 03, 2014

No Cancer Risk from Power Lines, Says the New York Times: Big Score for Industry Scientists

No Cancer Risk from Power Lines, Says the New York Times

Big Score for Industry Scientists

December 1, 2014
Last updated 
December 3, 2014
Still worried about power lines and cancer? That’s so retro, says the New York Times. You’re just stuck in the 1980’s.  
This is what the “newspaper of record” wants you to know about the risk of childhood leukemia from power lines: A “fairly broad consensus among researchers holds that no significant threat to public health has materialized.”
The full message is told in a new 7+ minute video, produced by the Times’ RetroReport, which boasts a staff of 13 journalists and 10 contributors, led by Kyra Darnton. The video even credits a fact checker. What’s missing is the common sense to do some digging when reporting on a controversial issue.
If Darnton's crew had done its homework, they would have realized that their view is based on two industry-friendly researchers, David Savitz and John Moulder. Savitz, now VP for research at Brown University, has come a long way since he first reported that power lines are linked to childhood leukemia back in 1986. Power line EMFs have been very, very good for Savitz’s career. He parlayed that study into a multimillion contract from the electric power industry to study cancer risks among electric utility workers. He found a link to brain tumors. A couple of years later, he paid the industry back by renouncing his own work and that of many others. Now he’s done it again with his original power line study in the new Times video.
As for Moulder, everybody in the EMF community knows that he has pocketed bundles of money testifying for companies denying that power lines or cell phones present any risk. We long ago detailed Moulder’s work for industry.
Those who make the effort to read the scientific literature can see that a number of different groups have pooled the results of the many epidemiological studies on EMFs and childhood cancer and each has reaffirmed the link —as both Savitz and Moulder are well aware. (Here are details on the two best known meta-analyses.) The pooled analyses prompted the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to classify power line EMFs as a possible human carcinogen back in 2001. The advice still stands. Indeed, the evidence is stronger today than it was back then.
The video also cites a National Academy of Sciences report: This too was mishandled. At the time, in 1996, the New York Times stated that the Academy found “no conclusive and consistent evidence” linking EMFs to cancer. (When you see language like that you know the fix is in: How often does evidence meet such a strict burden of proof?) Left unsaid was that the Academy confirmed that children living near power lines had higher rates of leukemia. Savitz knows this too, he was the vice chair of the Academy panel.

No comments:

Post a Comment