News Recap for 7-17-20
WSJ: The Politics of Hydroxychloroquine — It was one of the biggest back and forths of the coronavirus saga (so far)—is hydroxichloroquine (HCQ) a safe COVID treatment, as President Trump suggested? Or was it just a deadly grasp at a quick fix, as suggested by the president’s rivals? The question led to a game of political tug of war, as scientific journals printed and rescinded studies into the dangers and benefits of the drug. Where are we now? An FDA safety review published earlier this month suggests that the drug isn’t harmful to the vast majority of patients who are treated according to FDA guidelines. Maybe the best approach to deciding whether HCQ is an appropriate treatment for COVID patients is one the Center for Truth in Science champions in application to all questions of evolving science: leave it to the experts, and keep politics out of it.
The National Law Review: Is a Wave of PFAS Consumer Class Actions on the Horizon? — Two class actions recently filed in California preview a what could be a new breed of PFAS-related consumer claims. Rather than relying on information surrounding existing health risks, the plaintiffs claim they relied on faulty marketing statements that indicated the products in question were disposable and would completely decompose. They argue that the presence of PFAS—sometimes called “forever chemicals”—makes these statements false. By shifting focus away from the health effects of PFAS (which are widely debated) and onto the chemicals non-disputed environmental persistence, claimants may have found a new way to game the system.
Law Street: Judge Rules Honey Co-Op “Pure” Claim is Not Misleading — A judge in the central district of California ruled this week that a small honey co-op did not mislead customers with labels advertising its products as “pure.” The plaintiff claimed that because the honey contained traces of glyphosate—ranging from 30 to 40 parts per billion—it could not feasibly be described as pure. The judge disagreed, stating “The raw Survey data and the Maronick Report offer no foundation upon which a factfinder could conclude that a reasonable consumer would be misled by SiouxHoney’s labeling. Because (the Plaintiff) lacks evidence of an element necessary to carry her ultimate burden of persuasion at trial as to any of her… claims, each fails.”
Washington Daily News: Glyphosate fact or fiction? — This piece breaks down the conversation surrounding glyphosate in weed killers through the helpful lens of hazard assessment vs. risk assessment:
“A hazard assessment tests the possibility of danger. Picture a busy street in a city that never stops: would you cross the street with cars… The cars are a hazard. Does this mean that we should outlaw all cars? Now, would you cross if the light indicates it is safe to cross? This minimizes the hazard. Risk, on the other hand, is a factor of hazard times exposure. We have the hazard, but what is the likely exposure to the hazard if you are using your PPE and following the label for the product?”
Colorado Times Recorder: Perlmutter Introduces Bill to Study Impact of Toxic Chemicals on Firefighters’ Health — Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced legislation to study the effects and prevalence of exposure to PFAS, particularly among firefighters. PFAS is often used to make firefighting equipment more resistant to water and heat, and the science is mixed on whether exposure to PFAS comes with a greater risk of cancer-related illnesses and death, and what levels of exposure pose an increased risk, if any.
In a related bill, Rep Dan Kildee (D-MI), seeks to ensure that firefighters exposed to PFAS chemicals at military installations get the health care services they need through the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA).
The Hill: Weedkiller chemical found in popular brands of hummus — A new study from the Environmental Working group has found small amounts of the chemical glyphosate in popular hummus brands. The Environmental Protection Agency re-approved the use of glyphosate in January, claiming that it doesn’t pose a danger to humans. According to the EPA, small glyphosate traces are not worrisome for health, and a spokesperson for Whole Foods Market noted that all samples were compliant with the EPA’s limit, and the company “requires that suppliers meet all applicable limits for glyphosate through effective raw material control programs that include appropriate testing.”