(05/23/2018)
Reprint from wvgazettemail

What to think of a government that conceals bad news from its citizens, just because it doesn't make government look good?

For decades, residents of Parkersburg and nearby communities drank, cooked with and bathed in water that was contaminated with a chemical linked to cancer and numerous other health problems. Perfluorooctonate acid, also known as PFOA or C8, came from DuPont's Washington Works plant in Wood County.

An independent science panel agreed on by DuPont linked the chemical to those health programs and after several lawsuits DuPont and spinoff company Chemours agreed to pay more than $670 million to settle thousands of additional lawsuits involving Parkersburg-area residents.

There is now word that the health effects of C8 and similar chemicals might be worse than previously feared, especially for vulnerable people, like babies and pregnant women.

How do the people know this? Not because the Trump administration informed the public, that's for sure.

This week, Politico reported on the federal health study, which was blocked earlier this year after officials at Trump's White House and Scott Pruitt's Environmental Protection Agency worried about the public relations backlash it would cause.

The draft study shows, according to Politico, that some people could be affected by C8 and similar chemicals at a level as little as one-sixth of the levels previously thought harmful. That could cost companies that use the chemicals, and the U.S. Department of Defense, which has used them at dozens of military bases across the country.

"The public, media, and congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge," a White House aide said in an email reported by Politico.

The White House aide added in the email: "The impact to [the] EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be."

ATSDR is the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that produced the study. People there shouldn't be worried about the "potential public relations nightmare" the study might cause.

The Trump administration has already shown its willingness to cast aside inconvenient science when it comes to climate change and its effects on the planet. It's already canceled a study on the health effects of mountaintop removal mining on people who live nearby an issue that affects thousands of West Virginians, and about which the state's elected officials seem not to care very much.

So this is just the latest example in a series, but it's still disturbing that people running the country are willing to hide what they know just because it might look bad. The government is intended to serve the people, including people at risk or made sick by C8 and other chemicals. (Charleston Gazette)

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