News Recap for 9-4-20
U.S. News: Sterilizing Firm Sues After Cut in Tax Value of Nearby Homes — Sterigenics is suing a suburban Atlanta county, saying the county unlawfully lowered the property values of thousands of homes because of concerns about releases of ethylene oxide. Sterigenics claims the board targeted the company without proper data to back up its decision. “Their unfounded action was taken without supporting data and despite confirmation that the facility is in full compliance with all state and federal air regulations,” the company said in a written statement. “The fact is that the Sterigenics facility is safe and not causing anyone harm.”
JD Supra: Science Should Lead the Law: Amending FRE 702 to Let Science Guide Legal Outcomes — The Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules will continue this fall its ongoing discussions on amendments to Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 702. The two possible amendments being considered include an amendments regarding the “overstatement” of expert conclusions and the admissibility requirements for expert testimony. These amendments could help reduce the scientific guess work that is occurring in courtrooms today.
Legal Newsline: Big plaintiffs firms circle government clients to score PFAS litigation contracts — A memo from Miami-Dade County shows that the nation’s prominent plaintiffs firms are competing with and aligning to each other in the hopes of signing local governments as clients. The firms are courting local governments for lawsuits against producers of PFAS, including 3M and DuPont.
Los Angeles Times: California lawmakers vote to phase out toxic firefighting foam — New legislation in California requires requires municipal fire departments, chemical plants and oil refineries to gradually stop using foams containing PFAS, and replace it with alternatives that don’t contain the chemical. California’s pending action is among the toughest in the country.
Scientific American: How Those Bogus Reports on ‘Ineffective’ Neck Gaiters Got Started — In early August, a study circulated that purportedly showed that wearing a neck gaiter might be worse at stemming the spread of COVID-19 than not wearing a mask at all. Headlines popped up spreading the news, forcing many to reconsider their preferred style of face mask. However, the study didn’t actually show neck gaiters to be ineffective, nor was it designed to. How did the media get this so wrong? When newsrooms ask reporters to cover more and more topic areas and this specialization decreases, an attention to detail is sometimes lost. So, the onus to help journalists (and frankly, all nonscientists) get the facts straight falls to the scientists doing the science. That’s where science communication training comes in.