American Council on Science and Health’s toxicologist Goldhaber explores the Wonderful World of Toxicology
The Center for Truth in Science operates under an important mission statement:
The Center commissions research projects conducted by independent scientists without political, cultural, technical, or ideological bias. The Center contributes to a healthy and balanced system in which judicial and regulatory decisions are based on objective, unbiased, sound, and comprehensive analyses of scientific evidence.
The scientific areas we focus on have many unanswered questions, incomplete or weak science, and conflicting results when it comes to determining the effects of exposure to chemicals found in everyday products and the environment. We seek to bring clarity to these issues.
To do this, we award research grants to independent scientists with deep experience in a range of scientific disciplines, central among them the field of toxicology. Recent grant recipients have gathered and assessed the quality of studies most frequently cited on four issues at the intersection of science, justice and the economy:
- ethylene oxide
- per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
These substances are found in objects commonly used in daily life, food, health and medicine, and first responder emergency equipment. They each have become critical to modern society, but worries remain about exposure to these chemicals. Current scientific and medical journals abound with new findings in these areas, and the media covers them generously.
But how can consumers, even those with advanced education, make sense of the findings and media coverage in toxicology? Is the average person able to read them critically, and see the difference between strong and weak science?
Understanding the basics of the scientific fields used to evaluate these chemicals, such as the field of toxicology, is required in order for people to make good decisions. Everyone from the legislators voting on regulations, to judges and juries, to families at the grocery story who are trying to decide what to eat and what to buy—all of these stakeholders benefit from having a basic understanding of what they are reading.
Susan Goldhaber, MPH, has more than 40 years of experience as an environmental toxicologist working at state and federal agencies and in the private sector. Her blog post for the American Council on Science and Health, “The Wonderful World of Toxicology,” is the best tutorial I have read for non-toxicologists who are trying to make sense of the science.