|ognizant Communication Corporation|
A Journal of Science Serving Legislative, Regulatory, and Judicial Systems
Human Advancement · Environmental Protection · Industrial Development
Technology, Vol. 6, pp. 9-16, 1999
1072-9240/99 $10.00 + .00
Copyright © 1999 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.
Impact of Cigarette Smoking on Human Reproduction: Its Effect on Male and Female Fecundity
Panayiotis M. Zavos and P.N. Zarmakoupis-Zavos
University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Cigarette smoking has become a serious health and societal problem today and also presents a rather challenging dilemma for the physician or the health care provider. No doubt, the physician has a difficult and yet necessary and important role to play in convincing patients of the adverse health effects smoking has on the body's ability to properly function and reproduce. The smoking behavior can be defined only as physically self-destructive and anyone who smokes should be advised to stop. The data shown in this review depicts a great deal of epidemiological evidence that smoking adversely affects female and male fertility. It also shows the biological plausibility and mechanisms of action of cigarette smoke and its components on the various reproductive processes. The argument against smoking holds true for anyone wishing to reproduce, however, it is particularly imperative for individuals having difficulty in conceiving or experiencing infertility problems. Infertility generally is defined as the inability of a couple to conceive after 12 months of trying to achieve pregnancy without the use of any means of contraception (unprotected sex). Data from 1982 reveal that infertility affects an estimated 2.4 million married couples in the U.S. and these figures continue to increase dramatically.
Nicotine Maintenance for Inveterate Smokers
Department of Pathology, School of Medicine
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
In the United States more than 400,000 persons die annually from smoking-related illnesses. Further, the prevalence of smoking has stabilized at 25 percent of the population, an unacceptable level. Both statistics reflect the fact that many smokers cannot achieve the goal of smoking cessation programs: nicotine abstinence. Smokers traditionally have been classified according to their cigarette consumption level, but for selecting a cessation strategy they are better described in terms of their dependence on nicotine. "Novice" and "conventional" smokers are persons who are not highly dependent on nicotine and so respond to the traditional approaches to smoking cessation that require nicotine abstinence. A third group, "inveterate" mokers, are so strongly addicted to nicotine that they cannot abstain. However, these people can gain the health benefits of quitting cigarettes by switching to an effective alternative nicotine delivery system (ANDS). We describe the advantages and limitations of the ANDS that are available for this harm-reduction strategy.
Cato Institute, Washington, DC
The idea that industrial chemicals in food and the general environment are a major cause of cancer is popular with politicians and the public because it blames cancer on external agents. Thirty years ago, when it appeared that about 10 percent of chemicals were carcinogenic in animal tests, testing chemicals in animals, identifying which chemicals cause cancer, and elimination of those chemicals from the environment promised a path to the control of cancer. The promises have crumbled. Environmental chemicals cause, at most, a few percent of cancers, dashing the great hopes that controlling exposures to them would reduce cancer. About half of all tested chemicals - either natural or synthetic - are carcinogenic, making it impossible to consider removing all of them from the environment. Understandably, few regulations have been promulgated. Despite enormous rethinking about the importance of environmental carcinogens, federal guidelines for cancer testing and risk assessment have hardly changed at all. Changes are not expected because the guidelines are policy documents in which science plays little role. This paper offers some possible solutions to the dilemma raised by guidelines and testing programs that address a largely non-existent problem. The solutions depend on recognizing the paramount role played by policy in the guidelines, and approaching the guidelines and cancer testing as policy - not scientific - issues. Scientists, with their superior knowledge of their disciplines, have an important role to play in teasing science from policy and in making clear what little can be expected from cancer testing.
Validity of the Linear-No Threshold Theory of Radiation Carcinogenesis in the Low Dose Region
Bernard L. Cohen
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
The cancer risk from low level radiation is conventionally estimated from the well-known effects of high radiation doses by use of the linear-no threshold theory (LNT). Since this practice has great societal consequences, it is important to re-examine and evaluate it. It is shown that the original theoretical basis of LNT has completely disintegrated, and that the role of biological defense mechanisms is of paramount importance. Evidence on this is reviewed and essentially all of it suggests that low level radiation may be protective against cancer. The data on cancer risk to humans from low level radiation are reviewed; while they are weak statistically, they largely suggest failure of LNT in over-estimating the risk of low level radiation. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the latent period between exposure and tumor development increases with decreasing dose, so for low dose exposure, death from other causes would occur before tumor development. The University of Pittsburgh study of lung cancer rates in U.S. Counties vs. radon exposures gives statistically indisputable evidence on the validity of LNT. This study is reviewed and updated, and criticisms of it are discussed. It concludes that LNT fails badly in the low dose region, grossly exaggerating the cancer risk of low level radiation.
Measuring Public Confidence in Hazard Claims: Results of a National Survey
John D. Graham, Roberta J. Glass, Kim M. Clemente,
and Nicole Pasternak
Center for Risk Analysis, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
This study was conducted to measure the degree of confidence lay people have in hazard claims publicized in the mass media, to compare confidence levels for different hazards, and to relate these levels of confidence to individual respondent characteristics. A random digit-dial telephone survey of 1,019 residents of the United States was conducted in November, 1995. Mean hazard confidence scores were elicited on a scale from zero to 10, where zero indicates complete confidence that a hazard does not exist, and 10 indicates complete confidence that a hazard does exist. Mean confidence scores for the hazards of interest are: cigarette smoking (9.05), environmental tobacco smoke (7.6), ozone layer depletion (7.1), dust and particles in city air (7.0), pesticide residues on foods (6.9), global warming from carbon dioxide pollution (6.4), radon gas (6.2), radiation from medical x-rays (5.7), electric and magnetic fields from powerlines (5.5), and listening to relaxing music (0.93). Concern about personal vulnerability to violence in daily life is a predictor of hazard confidence. Knowledge of actuarial facts about risks and the ability to make comparative-risk judgments was associated with less hazard confidence. Egalitarian values are associated with higher confidence scores. White men's hazard confidence levels differed from those of white women, nonwhite men, and nonwhite women. The gender/race relationship persists in multivariate analysis adjusted for income and education. The possible relationships between hazard confidence and risk perception are discussed.
Measuring Confidence in Hazard Claims: Scientists Versus Laypeople
John D. Graham
Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Kim M. Clemente, Roberta J. Glass, and Nicole
Center for Risk Analysis, Boston, MA
Many hazard claims are covered by the media. The present study investigates whether scientists and laypeople have equal levels of confidence about whether eight hazard claims publicized in the mass media are correct. A similar survey instrument was administered by telephone to 1,019 Americans, and by mail to 264 U.S. scientists. Each hazard item was scored on a zero to 10 point scale, with zero meaning complete confidence that a hazard to human health does not exist and 10 meaning complete confidence that a hazard to human health does exist. Lay respondents had higher mean confidence scores than scientists for claims made about pesticides on foods (6.92 vs. 4.49), electric and magnetic fields (5.51 vs. 3.43), and global warming (6.39 vs. 5.90). No significant differences were noted for ozone depletion (7.05 vs. 6.91), environmental tobacco smoke (7.61 vs. 7.19), radon (6.25 vs. 5.95), and dust and particles in city air (6.98 vs. 6.88). A gender effect was noted among scientists as well as laypeople, although female scientists tended to express less confidence in hazard claims than lay females. Related differences were evident in responses to an exploratory question regarding explanations for the reported rise in the rate of breast cancer. Lay respondents were more confident than scientists about the roles of more use of chemicals (6.38 vs. 4.49), pesticides on foods (5.07 vs. 3.59), and exposure to electric and magnetic fields (5.07 vs. 3.59). Scientists express more confidence than laypeople about the roles of delay of first delivery (5.51 vs. 3.65), using estrogen therapy (5.44 vs. 5.02), and fewer women breast feeding (4.74 vs. 3.83).
Irradiated Food for the Protection of Consumer Health with Special Emphasis on Irradiated Meat
Frank C. Lu
Consulting Toxicologist, Miami, FL
The scientific data on the wholesomeness of irradiated food is critically reviewed. No toxic effect can be attributed to such foods. A few adverse effects observed in earlier studies have been shown to be a result of confounding factors. The radiolytic products are also found in unirradiated foods after conventional food processing, such as heating, and drying. Nutritionally, irradiated foods are not impaired; these foods are also microbiologically safe. The World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee at its 1980 meeting affirmed the wholesomeness of a number of irradiated foods, and concluded that the irradiation of food up to an overall dose of 10 kGy presents no toxicological hazards. This was reaffirmed in 1997 by a WHO Study Group.
Homeopathy and Science: A Closer Look
David W. Ramey
Practicing Veterinarian, Glendale, CA
Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Oswego, NY
Robert H. Imrie
Practicing Veterinarian, Seattle, WA
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
Homeopathy, first advanced as a therapeutic system in the late 1700s, appears to have been embraced by proponents of "alternative" and "complementary" therapies. While numerous papers evaluating various homeopathic remedies have been published, to date, no single condition for which they are effective has been identified. This paper reviews the history of homeopathy; its plausibility in the light of known physical mechanisms; the evidence for its effectiveness as described in reviews and meta-analyses conducted since the mid-1980s; and ethical considerations for providing therapy.
Meeting Global Food Needs: The Environmental Trade-Offs Between Increasing Land Conversion and Land Productivity
Indur M. Goklany
Department of the Interior, Washington, DC
Despite this century's dramatic population increase, the global food situation, possibly excepting sub-Saharan Africa, has improved remarkably - mainly due to the interdependent forces of economic growth, technology, and trade. However, low purchasing power and strife keep certain populations vulnerable. Due to increased land conversion and inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, and water), the improvements have extracted an environmental price. That price would have been higher absent technological change which, since 1961, forestalled additional conversion of 3,550 million hectares (Mha) of habitat globally to agricultural uses, including 970 Mha to cropland. Increasing - and richer - populations may raise food demand 120% between 1993 and 2050, which can only be met by increasing cropland, productivity, or both. The precise combination is critical for global biodiversity. Increasing average productivity 1%/y implies losing 368 Mha of habitat to cropland by 2050; while a 1.5%/y increase would reduce cropland by 77 Mha. Either is plausible, given productivity-enhancing opportunities. To the extent productivity increases result from additional inputs, the environmental benefits of reducing habitat loss may be partially offset. Given the severity of habitat conversion, prudence suggests increasing productivity while using inputs efficiently and mitigating their impacts. That requires sustained commitment to economic growth, technological change, and freer trade. Otherwise, technologies - whether to maintain or increase productivity or mitigate impacts - can neither be developed nor afforded, and access to food will diminish. That would - by reducing food supplies, increasing vulnerability of the poorest to hunger, escalating habitat loss, and increasing environmental degradation - deprive humanity and despoil the rest of nature.
Antioxidants and Mortality Among a National Sample
James E. Enstrom
School of Public Health and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of California, Los Angeles, CA
The relation between antioxidant intake and mortality was examined in the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Epidemiologic Follow Up Study cohort. A representative sample of 11,348 noninstitutionalized U.S. adults aged 25-74 years was nutritionally examined during 1971-74 and followed up for mortality (4,008 deaths) through 1992. Indices of intake of vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A (beta carotene) at levels around the recommended dietary allowance were formed from detailed dietary measurements and use of vitamin supplements. Total age-adjusted relative risk of death (RR) is inversely related to the intake of the three vitamins. For males, the RR comparing the highest to lowest vitamin intake ranges from about 0.6 to 0.8 for vitamin C, from about 0.7 to 0.8 for vitamin E, and from 0.8 to 0.9 for vitamin A. For females, the RR ranges from about 0.7 to 0.9 for vitamins C and E and about 1.0 for vitamin A. The RRs are lowest during the first five years of follow up. After adjustment for age and 10 potentially confounding variables, the RRs for vitamin C remain below 1.0 for males but not for females. The adjusted RRs for vitamins E and A are about 1.0 for both males and females. These findings put in context the current state of knowledge about the relationship of antioxidants and mortality.
The Hastings, Nebraska Ground Water Contamination Superfund Site: A Case Study in Logic and Illogic
Roy F. Spalding, Mary E. Exner, and Daniel
School of Natural Resource Sciences, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Marty E. Stange
Hastings Utilities, City of Hastings, Hastings, NE
Case histories from the Hastings, Nebraska Ground Water Contamination Site (HGWCS) were used to examine the adoption of innovative approaches at a negotiated site and the inflexibility which occurred at a site with an approved Work Plan. In the latter case, mandated monitoring during the long interval between acceptance and execution of the source control alternative supported intrinsic bioremediation rather than landfill capping. The more efficacious and cost-effective technique, however, could only be adopted by restarting the process with a feasibility study. Paramount at the HGWCS was flawed assessment of the source, fate, and transport of trichloroethylene (TCE), the analyte of interest at two subsites. The intransigence of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to accept that an upgradient source/sources impacts the TCE at the North Landfill subsite has resulted in a subsite without source control and with wrongful assignment of blame. The EPA needs to police its decision by creating an independent review process to ensure that cleanups are based on good science and logic.
Applications and Implications to Public Health When Using Indicator Bacteria for Assessing Water Quality
Ernst M. Davis
The University of Texas-Houston, School of Public Health, Houston, TX
The coliform group is the principal subject of this examination. Particularly, the historical development of current fecal coliform criteria in surface water for recreation purposes is presented. Compounding the criteria are factors such as false positive and false negative readings, the fact that fecal coliforms have origins other than wastewaters, that they are practically ubiquitous, and that regrowth of populations can occur leading to erroneous conclusions about sources. Criteria for contact recreation are not standardized between states. Some states have pursued E. coli and enterococci as their indicator of choice. Shellfish waters have entirely different values, and organisms such as Vibrio parahaemoliticus are not detected by the standard coliform analysis.
Selenium in Human Health
James E. Oldfield
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
In the late 1950s, selenium - until then recognized only for its toxic effects - was found to be an essential nutrient, and since then has become one of the most intensively-studied inorganic components of animal or human diets. Selenium was shown to be protective against certain metabolic diseases in domestic food animals (e.g., "white muscle disease") and this, plus its demonstrated beneficial effects on reproduction and body growth, have made its supplemental use in livestock diets an established practice worldwide. Soils, from which selenium is taken up by food and forage plants, contain variable amounts of the element, and vast land areas have been charted where the selenium levels are too low to produce foods and feeds with sufficient amounts to support optimum health. Attention has swung recently to the effects of dietary selenium on diseases of humans, beginning with the myopathy, Keshan disease in China, but now including protection against heart disease and certain types of cancer. It has been shown, too, that selenium deficiency increases pathogenicity of certain viruses (e.g., coxsackie virus), so its importance as a contributor to health and well-being is stimulating widespread continuing research.
Is Wine or its Polyphenolic Components Beneficial for the Prevention of Heart Disease?: A Review and Comment
Michael A. Dubick
U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX
Department of Physiology, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio, TX
A number of reports in newspapers, magazines, and television news programs have touted the health benefits of wine, and particularly red wine, in offering protection from coronary artery disease. Epidemiologic evidence citing inverse relationships between alcohol intake or wine consumption and incidence of heart disease has been cited as one possible explanation for the so-called French paradox, where in certain areas of France, drinking red wine with meals has been associated with lower incidence of deaths from heart disease, despite the consumption of high fat diets. Alcohol consumption has been associated with lower concentrations of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and higher concentrations of high-density lipoproteins in plasma - factors that may reduce an individual's risk of heart disease. In addition, experimental studies in both animals and humans suggest that the alcohol as well as polyphenolic substances in wine have antioxidant activity, protect LDLs from oxidation, and prolong the time for platelet aggregation and blood clot formation. These effects have not been observed consistently and the benefit of white wine is even less established. This critical review analyzes the available data to determine evidence for the health claims attributed to wine in protection against coronary artery disease.
The Psychodynamics of Threat in Environmental Rhetoric
Glenn Swogger, Jr.
Will Menninger Center for Applied Behavioral Sciences
The Menninger Clinic, Topeka, KS (retired)
Starting with an analysis of typical examples of the language of threat in representative environmental writings, the individual and group psychodynamics by which a sense of threat is defined and created, and the interplay between external events and dangers, and internal - sometimes unconscious - sources of anxiety, guilt, and fearfulness, are elaborated. The ways in which a sense of threat may be manipulated by social organizations and institutions are briefly described; and further context for understanding present fears of social and environmental catastrophe is given by examining the long history of religious and political wishes for and fears of the Apocalypse. Finally, approaches are proposed for mitigating threat rhetoric, with its associated fearfulness and panic, and their effects on reliable judgment about public policy in the environmental area.
Chlorine - Element from Hell or Gift from God? The Scientific Side of the Chlorine Story
Gordon W. Gribble
Department of Chemistry, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Chlorine, a chemical element found naturally in all living things, is under attack by environmentalists. Chlorine and chlorinated compounds are essential for maintaining our health and for improving the standard of living throughout the world. There is no suitable substitute for chlorine to protect people from waterborne diseases. Chlorinated pesticides allow for the production of an adequate and inexpensive supply of fruits and vegetables. Chlorinated compounds are essential for the production of lifesaving pharmaceuticals. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the building block for much of our manufacturing industry and an invaluable component of building materials, consumer goods, medical equipment, and many other products. All of this is well known. But what is not generally recognized is that more than 1,800 naturally occurring organochlorine compounds have been identified. These organochlorines, which range in structural intricacy from the simple and ubiquitous fungal and plant metabolite chloromethane to the complex lifesaving antibiotic vancomycin, are produced by marine and terrestrial plants, bacteria, fungi, lichens, insects, marine animals (sponges, corals, sea hares, nudibranchs, gorgonians, and tunicates), some higher animals, and a few mammals, including man. New examples are continually being discovered and the total number of natural organochlorines may surpass 2,000 by the turn of the century. Many of these natural organochlorines are identical to their manmade counterparts. Any attempt to regulate organochlorines must take into account nature's contribution. It is clear that chlorine is as natural to our world as carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Effect of Nutrition and Dietary Supplements on Mood and Cognitive Performance
G. Richard Jansen
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
The value of dietary supplements in enhancing mood and cognitive performance in human subjects is reviewed. Included are studies dealing with the effects of glucose, amino acids, choline, caffeine, vitamins and minerals, and herbal supplements on anxiety, depression, mood, sleep and cognitive performance. Data support the following: supplements of 1) glucose improves cognitive performance in normal subjects and patients with mild senile dementia of the Alzheimer type; 2) tryptophan improves sleep in infants and adults; 3) tyrosine improves alertness and cognitive performance under stressful conditions that presumably have depleted brain levels of the catecholamine neurotransmitters; 4) choline, administered as CDP-choline, improves cognition following head injury, in Alzheimer's patients and in elderly subjects with poor memory; 5) caffeine improves alertness and cognitive performance but also increases anxiety in some subjects; 6) St. John's wort relieves depression; and 7) low folate levels are associated with depression. Beyond this, the value of dietary supplements to improve either mood or cognitive performance has not been convincingly demonstrated except in cases where a nutritional deficiency exists, such as the value of iron supplements to improve cognitive performance in girls with iron deficiency. Tryptophan currently is off the market. The tyrosine data are interesting but the doses are large and not yet demonstrated to be safe for the general public. It is clear that individuals deficient in vitamins or minerals will benefit from either a nutritional supplement or an improved diet pattern. However, it seems doubtful that the public is receiving full value from the $8 billion currently spent on dietary supplements and natural medicines. The scientific community should continue to stress the importance of peer-reviewed scientific evidence in demonstrating the value of dietary supplements, but should also be open to new possibilities that are based on scientific data.
THE ABC's of HRT: Epidemiology of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Madelon Lubin Finkel and Heather Mahoney
Cornell University Medical College, New York, NY
The perimenopausal period in a woman's life cycle refers to the period extending from the first signs of menopause to after menopause. It is a period marked by decreasing hormone production as estrogen levels decline and a change in the menstrual pattern becomes evident. The reliance of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to reduce the risks associated with the menopause has assumed great attention. But should HRT be prescribed for every woman? For how long should HRT be taken? What are the risks? What are the benefits? What are the contraindications? Large scale population based epidemiologic studies are presented in an effort to provide guidance for decision making. This comprehensive review shows that HRT is protective against heart disease and osteoporosis, but carries a risk of breast cancer. Those with the highest risk of cardiovascular disease and the lowest risk of breast cancer gain, but for those at low risk for cardiovascular disease, the benefits of HRT may not outweigh the risks. The only women who would not gain from HRT are those who are at greatest risk for breast cancer and those who have no risk factors for heart disease. HRT is protective against bone loss and subsequent risk of osteoporotic fractures. What remains unclear is whether HRT should be initiated at menopause or initiated later to get the same protective effect. While the literature assesses risks and benefits, each woman herself will have to assess how these benefits and risks might affect her.
The Early Regulation of Figs in the United States
James Harvey Young
Emory University, Atlanta, GA
When the Food and Drugs Act became law in 1906, the commercial fig industry in California had just become established. Domestic figs began to compete with imported figs, especially from Turkey and Greece. Fig culture, both in the Near East and the American West, was beset by many threats, especially insect pests. The Bureau of Chemistry in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), enforcer of the 1906 law, undertook to protect consumers from spoiled figs from overseas and in interstate commerce. Simultaneously the USDA helped both domestic and Turkish growers to counter infestation. Through the State Department, sanitary controls in Smyrna were enhanced. Scientific experts from Agriculture educated American growers and packers in protective techniques. A high point of both legal actions and educational endeavors came in the late 1920s. In the 1930s, the state of California assumed the role of guiding inspection and helping dispose of substandard figs. World War II brought retrogression in fig quality, requiring a new corrective campaign by the Food and Drug Administration, successor to the Bureau of Chemistry, to prevent spoiled figs from reaching the market. By the 1950s, the need for such legal actions was rare.
Bomb Fallout and Thyroid Cancer: Statistical Sheep in Real Wolves' Clothing
Russell A. Brown
Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) released a summary of a Congressionally-mandated study of radioactive iodine, 131I, deposition and doses in August 1997. Although the NCI press release urged "caution in interpreting the results" because the 1000-page report released in October did not include any analysis of cancer risks, an NCI "Backgrounder" provided an estimate of 10,000 to 75,000 fallout-related thyroid cancers. Five Idaho counties, 15 Montana counties, and two Utah counties were listed among the 24 counties with the highest estimated thyroid doses. The 75,000-cancer value was based on the assumption that the effect of irradiation of the thyroid by 131I is equivalent to that of external radiation. Studies of adult populations exposed to diagnostic doses have not found 131I to be carcinogenic in the thyroid. The NCI Backgrounder used an excess relative risk (ERR) of 7.7 ERR/Gy (95% CI: 2.1-28.7) to estimate the upper-limit thyroid cancer value. That value was based on a pooled analysis of data from five studies of the effects of external radiation on children's thyroids. Individual effects ranged from 2.5 to 32.5 ERR/Gy. Proposed guidelines for pooling of data would have eliminated at least three of the reference studies on the basis of heterogeneity of populations, treatments, and estimated effects. A review of U.S. thyroid cancer data for a 30-y period identified clusters of significant excess mortality in eight contiguous counties in urban New York and New Jersey, four in the Cleveland area, and three in the Chicago area, among others. None of the high-mortality regions were in the estimated high fallout regions. No significant excesses were found in Idaho, Montana, or Utah among the most sensitive age-groups throughout the 30-y period following atmospheric weapons testing.
Chemical Agent Incinerator Health Risk Assessment
Hsieng-Ye Chang and Jeffrey W. Schuliger
U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine
Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD
U.S. regulations require a multi-pathway health risk assessment (HRA) as well as a direct inhalation health risk evaluation. The HRAs conducted for the Army's proposed chemical agent facilities were unique because chemical agents are not common industrial chemicals. Similarly, the methodology for performing a multi-pathway evaluation for determining health risk from combustion facilities was still at the embryonic stage. Therefore, identifying data gaps and problems with some of the mathematical models was a crucial part of each HRA. The objective was to perform an HRA that was scientifically defensible as well as acceptable to the regulatory community. The completed HRAs indicated no adverse health effects to human health or the environment. Once each facility has obtained the necessary permits and is operational, health risks will be reevaluated based on actual facility data.
Application of a Cybernetic Model to the Analysis of Health and Safety Policies
Sorin R. Straja and A. Alan Moghissi
Institute for Regulatory Science, Columbia, MD
The quality of the human life value is measured using a quality-adjusted life-expectancy index. The cybernetic model is built on the principle that individuals have a cumulative knowledge accumulated throughout many generations that enables them to react in an optimal way to the social-economic environment - taking into account the financial limitations. Any new health and safety policy is characterized by one dimensionless parameter, p. The critical value of p specifies the individual's preferences, and any new policy should be rejected unless its p-parameter is less than the critical one. The model is used to perform a cost-benefit analysis for selected regulations demonstrating that while some are cost effective, others are not.
Site Technology Coordination Groups as a Communication Vehicle
Michael J. Barainca
U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC
Site Technology Coordination Groups (STCGs) were established in early 1994 to foster better communication among technology users, the technology-development community, and stakeholders at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Environmental Management sites. The STCG has a twofold mission. First, the STCG ensures that major obstacles and technology needs of the site are captured and communicated to the Focus Areas, and that newly developed technologies and solutions are implemented by their site operations to improve the performance of environmental programs in site remediation and waste management. Second, the STCG facilitates communication between site stakeholders and technology developers in order to catalyze the use of innovative technologies. Although all the STCGs have common objectives, their approaches to stakeholder communication and outreach differ. Stakeholder involvement within the DOE's Environmental Programs has evolved over several decades.
Maximizing Acceptance and Effectiveness of Environmental-Restoration Decisions
Anibal L. Taboas
U.S. Department of Energy, Argonne, IL
This paper describes a concept for environmental managers to maximize the potential acceptance and cost effectiveness of risk management decisions, and thus minimize the business risk associated with environmental restoration. Strategies are identified to overcome challenges such as imperfect data, regulatory uncertainty, lack of common perceptions on risk, and competing priorities. Successful decision-making is based on detailed planning, to reach a balance between selection of cost-effective risk reduction projects, and the ability to obtain timely acceptance of the process by regulators and other stakeholders. The clarity of agenda can be the most important aspect of risk communication. Other key issues include the process used to evaluate risk factors, real and perceived concerns, acceptability of action levels, and performance measures.
Mercury in Fish: A Collaborative Multimedia Health Education Approach
Lisa Weaver and Barbara Hager
Arkansas Department of Health, Little Rock, AR
In 1992, Arkansas officials determined that mercury was present in fish in some bodies of water in the state. The Governor appointed a task force with representatives from state and federal agencies to address the problem. An advisory group representing 30 state and local organizations assisted the task force. Focus-group research was conducted with women of reproductive age, frequent consumers of fish, and the general public to determine educational interventions. The project used a toll-free telephone number to collect data on persons requesting more information. Postage-paid evaluation cards were distributed with materials to evaluate intent to change fish-consumption patterns. Arkansas's efforts are unique in that they progressed from a limited approach to a multimedia education campaign using television, radio, print, direct mail, and grass-roots interventions. The collaboration among agencies concerned with development and dissemination of materials lent credence to the message. Positive messages focused on teaching Arkansans that mercury is a problem with which we can learn to live and still enjoy fishing in Arkansas. Arkansas's efforts received positive feedback, and resulted in raised awareness and the intent to change fish-consumption patterns.
Microbes, Food Safety, and the Environment: Issues in Risk Analysis
Alwynelle (Nell) S. Ahl
Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC
National Research Council, Washington, DC
The study of human health as related to the environment has largely been associated with an understanding of the effects of chemicals or toxicants. Many processes, methods, and models have been developed to support environmental risk assessment. Recognition that microbes may enter the body through ingestion and cause illness, both acute and chronic, requires innovation. These hazards may be on food of animal or plant origin, and can produce acute or chronic effects. Because of growth, die-off, and genetic variability of both host and agent, risk assessment for microbes in food presents some significant challenges. This paper explores some factors that must be considered when performing risk assessment for hazards arising from microbes.
Risk Communication Issues at Nuclear Defense Facilities in Nevada
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA
University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV
Since 1951, nuclear weapons and weapons' components have been tested in the atmosphere, near the surface, and underground in Nevada, primarily at the Nevada Test Site. These activities have left strong public perceptions of risk, and a large legacy of contaminated soil, water, and waste-management facilities at the sites. A stakeholder-based preliminary risk assessment of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sites in Nevada was part of a national effort to develop new sources of information and approaches with public involvement to risk assessment, risk management, risk communication, and public outreach. A risk assessment process was implemented with public involvement as described by the National Research Council. The goal of developing a broad participation and a public consensus on risk assessment is elusive. Diverse opinions were expressed and recorded, but consensus was not achieved. No significant radiological hazards to the public were identified at the present time due to institutional control of the current combined DOE and U.S. Air Force exclusion area.
Sharing Technical Information on Contaminated Sites Using Modern Information and Communication Technologies
Werner Geiger, Matthias Reissfelder, and Rainer Weidemann
Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Institut für Angewandte Informatik, Karlsruhe, Germany
For constructive discussion and efficient remediation of contaminated sites, the appropriate technical information and expert knowledge must be made available to all interested parties. This paper describes the development of a world-wide-web-based technical information system on contaminated sites, Alfa Web, which makes available a large number of technical reports and databases on site characterization and remediation by Internet, Intranet, and CD-ROM. A project-management group for system development that included representatives of various user groups specified the system requirements. An expert system, XUMA-GEFA, provides complex expert knowledge on the evaluation and investigation of contaminated sites to engineers, authorities, and other parties. It also allows the exchange of site-specific data. These systems not only offer technical information and expert knowledge on contaminated sites, they also help to systematize the decisions and to make them understandable by all parties involved. Their development gave rise to an intensified exchange of experience between the experts and practical users, and thus contributed to further development of the technical knowledge itself.
Using "Best Science" in Conveying Risk to the Public
Martin C. Edelson
Iowa State University, Ames Laboratory, Ames, IA
The Ames Laboratory, located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, is a small facility by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) standards. Relative to large DOE sites, few environmental problems have resulted from recent DOE operations in Ames, but some residents of the community remain concerned about the current environmental impacts of past Ames Laboratory operations. Many in the community reacted strongly when land suspected of thorium contamination was proposed for development of a youth sports complex. After the site was characterized by a state public health authority as suitable for development, construction of the sports complex began, but doubts still persist in the community about the advisability of the development. The discussion in Ames was impeded by a failure to use "best science." Proper identification and description of the contaminants of concern may have assuaged many of the local concerns about persistent radioactivity at the site. Information about the absence of health effects in areas with substantially greater thorium (and daughter product) concentrations may have abated fears about the toxicity of thorium. Finally, "best science" in the assessment of risk from radionuclides, particularly alpha-emitting radionuclides whose greatest hazard is through ingestion or inhalation, would have required that the chemical form of those radionuclides be established so that their behavior in the body could best be modeled.
Evaluation of a Radon Policy Based on Cost-Benefit Methodology
Alfred J. Cavallo
Environmental Measurements Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, New York, NY
Current U.S. regulatory policy concerning radon has provoked considerable controversy among some segments of the scientific community. Given this situation, it is prudent to examine other approaches and evaluate the use of a cost-benefit analysis to determine the radon action level. In spite of detailed scientific and practical understanding about the radon risk coefficient and the cost of remediation, this approach does not lead to a credible action level or provide an acceptable means of deciding whether or not remedial action should be taken. This has important implications for the regulation of all environmental pollutants. It indicates that public policy may be driven mostly by what is technically possible at a reasonable cost, rather than by science-based arguments as to what level of contamination is tolerable.
Dioxin in Missouri: Environmental Communication 1971-1997
Gale M. Carlson
Missouri Department of Health, Section for Environmental Public Health, Jefferson City, MO
Because of the discovery of dioxin contamination in several Missouri horse arenas and on gravel roads, the Missouri Department of Health has developed extensive expertise in assessment of risks and hazards, and in effective communication of that information. Contamination resulted from spraying contaminated waste oil for dust suppression in the 1970s. Lessons learned in Missouri can be applied elsewhere to enhance the effectiveness of communications between state governments and citizens about environmental contamination.
Minimizing Potential Liabilities from Inequalities in Stakeholder Involvement in Environmental Decision Making
Evaristo J. Bonano and Alberto A. León
Beta Corporation International, Albuquerque, NM
Extreme care must be exercised when developing a stakeholder-involvement program to provide input to a decision-making process designed to select the preferred solution for an environmental problem. Stakeholder groups must be diverse in nature to capture the myriad of technical and social issues and concerns that should drive the environmental management decision, and to avoid undue liability. This diversity can also lead to inequalities in the manner and degree of involvement of various stakeholders. Inequalities - whether actual or perceived - could result in liabilities to decision makers, including governmental agencies. This paper discusses issues that arise from and relate to stakeholder involvement in environmental decision making, inequalities that arise in stakeholder involvement, potential liabilities, and some general insight on how they can be minimized.
Prioritization Systems of the U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Program: Integrated Priority Lists and the Stakeholder
Mark E. Bollinger
Center for Risk Excellence, U.S. Department of Energy
Chicago Operations Office, Argonne, IL
Loren J. Habegger and Thomas D. Wolsko
Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uses qualitative risk-based assessments in a structured format to prioritize environmental activities in an integrated manner. Prioritization provides a useful decision-aiding and communication tool critical to effective program management. Although the systems used by a number of DOE sites or Operations Offices are alike in many respects, significant differences arise from the financial, geographic, cultural, societal, historic, and programmatic differences among the sites. Specific approaches for prioritizing DOE's environmental activities have been evolving for nearly a decade, and a variety of methods are now being used to respond to multiple program and project needs. While the quality of the prioritization system must be judged primarily on its ability to meet the needs for which it is designed, the most successful systems in use today have stakeholder involvement from initial process development to final scoring and decision support.
Incorporating Community Concerns into the Inhalation Risk Assessment for an Industrial Area in Korea
Young-Soo Chang and Margaret M. MacDonell
Environmental Assessment Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL
Young Sung Ghim and K.C. Moon
Global Environmental Research Center, Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Seoul, Korea
The Yochon Industrial Complex in Korea consists of more than 90 facilities and serves as a national symbol of technical progress and economic strength. It has also been linked to environmental problems, and a series of studies has been undertaken in response to health concerns voiced by the local community. The current study assesses inhalation risks with an emphasis on volatile organic compounds. The data were taken from 11 air-monitoring stations between November 1996 and March 1997. A standard assessment approach was used to estimate chronic exposures and calculate associated health effects for a representative adult and youth. Results of this initial study indicated that long-term exposures to current contaminant levels could result in about 80 incremental cases of cancer over the next 70 years, or slightly more than one excess case per year above (less than 1% of) the general background rate. Estimated cancer risks range from 1 x 10-4 to 6 x 10-3, with an area-wide value of 1 x 10-3. The estimated noncancer hazard indexes vary by location, ranging from 0.9 to 5, with an area-wide value of one to two for the hypothetical adult and youth, respectively. The major contributors to the cancer estimates are vinyl chloride; 1,3-butadiene; ethylene oxide; chloroform; 1,2-dichloroethane; and benzene. In addition to the latter three, key contributors to the hazard indexes include carbon tetrachloride and hexane. Results are being used to guide further analyses and support mitigation plans.
Application of a Bubble Approach for Decommissioning of an Urban Industrial Facility
A. Alan Moghissi, Sorin R. Straja, and Betty R. Love
Institute for Regulatory Science, Columbia, MD
This paper describes the decommissioning of an electrical relay station constituting one city block in the downtown area of a major city. The process began with a study identifying the composition of the structure (steel, concrete, wood, etc). Subsequently, hazardous materials in various segments of the building were identified, which included asbestos, lead (paint on iron bars), mercury, and others. The regulatory assessment was based on the assumption that debris from the building constituted a homogenous mixture in a municipal landfill. Accordingly, tests were performed on a mixture constituting a representative sample of the building and on that basis, it was found that certain materials had to be remediated. The estimated cost of the cleanup was about $120,000; however, the actual cost was significantly less and was offset by the recovery of copper in the structure. This paper presents the details of the study.
Coming to Closure: Bridging the Gap Between Stakeholders and Subject Matter Experts to Speed Decontamination and Decommissioning
Regina Lundgren and Kristin Manke
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA
The U.S. Department of Energy has undertaken an effort to remediate high-level radioactive wastes stored in underground tanks at several sites across the nation. The waste must be characterized, retrieved, treated, and finally immobilized. This paper describes one effort to improve the dialogue with stakeholders and to help move the tanks toward decontamination and decommissioning: the creation of an innovative technical booklet addressing Hanford tank cleanup. Developing this booklet was an iterative process involving scientists and engineers, technical writers and illustrators, and members of the target audience. The success of the booklet provides a number of lessons that could be applied to other remediation projects.
Computer-Facilitated Groundwater Remediation Design
George P. Karatzas and George F. Pinder
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
David P. Ahlfeld
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Conflicts about groundwater contamination can be resolved using groundwater modeling and optimization techniques. At Toms River, New Jersey, disagreements among stakeholders regarding the appropriate design of a groundwater remediation strategy were resolved by using optimal-design techniques to demonstrate the infeasibility of designs that required certain physical limitations. Through negotiations in a series of public meetings wherein the results of these analyses were presented, a hydraulic containment design was eventually adopted and implemented by all stakeholders. The question remained, however, as to whether an alternative strategy based on acceptable risk rather than total plume containment would be appropriate. A new approach that permits investigation of this alternative strategy indicates that a design using risk-based constraints could be considerably different from that currently implemented. The analysis also demonstrates the relative cost of considering containment by hydraulic gradient versus risk reduction through mass removal. In the former, environmental risk is minimized by assuring an inward gradient around the plume perimeter. In the latter, the goal is to control risk while removing contaminant mass.
Using Stakeholder Input to Develop Environmental Regulatory Approaches: A Case Study
Deborah Elcock and John Gasper
Argonne National Laboratory, Washington, DC
Arthur M. Hartstein and David O. Moses
U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC
This paper notes the importance of communicating environmental information when developing and implementing regulatory approaches. Two approaches - one goal-based and the other risk-based - are being considered for the prototype regulatory program. Both are site-specific, and the implementation of both requires a significant amount of communication among refiners, regulators, and other stakeholders. Of even greater importance, however, is the communication involved in the development of these approaches. Because these new regulatory approaches could fundamentally change the way regulated entities operate, ideas and concerns of groups likely to be affected by the regulatory prototypes need to be considered. This case study focuses on the use of structured workshops involving representatives from three separate interest groups - refiners, regulators, and the environmental community - in developing regulatory approaches. This paper reports on two workshops and plans for a third workshop. It describes the process for eliciting interaction, highlights the results of the workshops, and discusses ways to optimize approaches for obtaining and using environmental communications. Results and lessons learned may be applied to improve regulations in other sectors.
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