That’s the phrase that struck me after reading an opinion editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader, titled “Let the Science Decide on PFAS” by State Representative Mark Alliegro.
Rep. Alliegro is not just an elected official—he is a scientist with impeccable credentials. He has a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology and has published dozens of research articles in top, peer-reviewed scientific journals.
He is a former program director at the National Science Foundation where he served on review panels for the foundation, as well as the National Institutes of Health. He was senior scientist at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, and a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Brown University.
When it comes to analyzing fact-based scientific evidence, the man knows of what he speaks.
That is why I’m interested in his take on what has become a runaway train of regulatory actions on a large family of chemical compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS fill an array of important roles in our daily lives, including stain-resistant carpet, nonstick cookware, anti-lock brakes, firefighting foam, defibrillators, and pacemakers.
Like Dr. Alliegro, the Center believes policymakers and regulators should make decisions using the best possible scientific evidence available. This includes gathering all conclusive, consistent evidence on the potential hazards of exposure to PFAS—and the exposure levels that constitute a health hazard—before banning the use of these compounds.
It also includes considering the costs and benefits of such regulations to fully understand their potential impact on the physical and economic health of their constituents.
In his opinion editorial, Dr. Alliegro calls on science to lead the debate, not fears and feelings. “Unfortunately, a number of state and federal policymakers are not interested in waiting for the results of scientific research…” he writes.
“The problem with this alarmist approach is that we have no readily available substitutes for the functions these chemicals perform. Promoting a PFAS panic may win political points in some quarters, but it’d come with real costs.”
Dr. Alliegro calls on the Environmental Protection Agency to find out what level of accumulation is dangerous so that regulatory agencies can “act on science, not superstition.”
He concludes, “As with any public health issue, we need science to guide us. Lacking evidence should inspire us to search for it – not ban products out of fear. Doing that will just hurt businesses, consumers, and workers without cause.” Ahh, common sense to the rescue.