Monday, November 20, 2017

Why Are The Powers That Be Apparently So Afraid Of A Wee Bit Of Pilot Epidemiology?



Don't know about you, but I noticed an item in a Postmedia print organ last week that started like this:

A team of Université de Montréal researchers looking at a small sample of 29 women living near major natural-gas well sites found high levels of toxins in their urine.

Researchers found they had 3.5 times more benzene byproducts in their urine than the average person in Canada. But in nearly half the participants, 14 of them Indigenous women, the levels were six times higher...


That's interesting, not to mention potentially important, I thought, so I read further:

...The study was initially sparked by interest expressed at a Canadian symposium on toxicology, (researcher Elyse) Caron-Beaudoin said.

“We had heard that some communities in Peace River Valley in northeastern British Columbia were worried about the health impacts of living near fracking,” she said. “There was no bio-monitoring (for toxic chemicals) done in this region despite it being one of the most intensive hydraulic fracking regions in the country.”...

All of which sent me searching for the kicker, which is that the researchers should do a larger, more detailed study to determine what if any the association of this is with, well, you know...

...Researchers suggest the higher levels of benzene exposure in B.C. is coming from the fracking.

“But we don’t know for sure,” Caron-Beaudoin said.

Benzene is also found in cigarettes, petroleum products including motor fuels and solvents, as well as in drinking water. The study did not measure benzene in the participants’ environments, for example, in their tap water or in the air in their houses.

“The key message here is that we have a red flag,” she said. “We think there is higher benzene exposure in this region, and it’s particularly seen in the Indigenous participants, who already face social and health inequities. We need to look into this further and correct for the limitations we had in this pilot study.”

In her next study, Caron-Beaudoin expects to investigate the medical data of about 6,000 babies born in the region in the past 10 years...



You might have missed this story because it came out in the Montreal Gazette, presumably because the study, while done in BC, was carried out by researchers from the University of Montreal.

The thing is, it would appear that the folks at the Gazette may have missed a CAPPish-type memo or three.

Because two days later, seemingly out of nowhere, the Province ran an Op-Ed by Mr. Kenneth Green of the Fraser Institute titled "Attack On Fracking by BC Activists Ignores Science That Practice Is Safe". 

Now, as you might have predicted, the piece by the good Mr. Green included statements like to the following to support his thesis which closely matched the title of his piece:

...With regard to air pollution, a 2014 study conducted for the B.C. Ministry of Health found that short-term exposures to air pollutants were low enough that they did not pose a significant risk of adverse health effects in people living in the area, while long-term exposures to air pollutants from hydraulic fracturing were generally associated with a low potential for adverse health effects...


Do you see what Mr. Green did there re: the phrase: 'generally associated with'?

Regardless, surprisingly (or not), Mr. Green made no mention of the scientific U of M study cited above.

Furthermore, Mr. Green's piece also did not make mention of any of the following bits of unsettling science noted by Andrew Nikiforuk in the Tyee (in a piece on the U of M study that was published on the very same day as Mr. Green's Province Op-Ed):

...In Pavillion, Wyoming, a region of intense hydraulic fracturing activity, researchers have detected elevated benzene concentrations in air near homes located close to well pads. They have also found high muconic levels in urine as a result of benzene exposure...


...In 2015 researchers at Johns Hopkins University reviewed the records of nearly 11,000 births between 2009 and 2013 in heavily fracked rural areas of north and central Pennsylvania.

The researchers discovered that expectant mothers living in the busiest areas of shale gas activity were 40 per cent more likely to give birth prematurely (before 37 weeks of gestation).

In addition women were thirty per cent more likely to have a “high risk pregnancy” in heavily fracked landscapes.

And in 2014 as U.S. federal study found that pollution from the mining of natural gas in rural areas can increase the incidence of congenital heart defects among babies born to mothers living close to well sites...


Me thinks someone has been spooked enough to set their peer review-free deflector spike spin phasers to eleven for the duration.

The U of M's press release on the study is....Here....The actual peer-reviewed scientific publication is...Here.
Interestingly, the title of Mr. Green's non-peer-reviewed piece published on the house organ's website was slightly different than the title of the identical piece published in the Province. To wit: "Attacks On Hydraulic Fracturing In BC Defy Settled Science"
Separate from specific health hazard matters, check out the following bit of obfuscatory bait-and-switcheroozapalooza from Mr. Green when it comes to earthquakes: "On seismicity, the Canadian Council of Academies found that although hydraulic fracturing operations can cause additional seismicity, most of the earthquakes felt by the public are not caused by hydraulic fracturing itself, but by the underground injection of waste water"...Feel better now?
Norm Farrell also noted the U of M study on the Twittmachine on the weekend.



Anonymous said...

stovepipe media. shape and manufacture consent?

North Van's Grumps said...

"B.C. Ministry of Health found that short-term exposures to air pollutants were low enough that they did not pose a significant risk of adverse health effects in people living in the area,..."

@RossK You can add into the mix the Vancouver Sun story on page A3 from yesterday's edition written by Derrick Penner:"Snuffing out woodsmoke falls short of target for the wood stove exchange program.

7,000 wood stoves have been removed with the result of 400 tonnes of fine particles from Metro Vancouver.

Dr. Michael Brauer, a professor in the school of population and public health linked Metro Vancouver's woodsmoke to LOW BIRTH WEIGHTS IN BABIES AND AND AN INCREASE IN EAR INFECTIONS IN CHILDREN. No where in the story is the smoke effect of this past summer of fires that wiped out Vancouver's pristine view of the north shore vs our north shore view of Vancouver. No where in the story is that seniors and children were effected by all that smoke, all that fine particulate.

7,000 stoves generated 400 tonnes of fine particulates, would anyone want to place a guess on tonnes for Vancouver, nay Metro Vancouver, nay Fraser Valley, nay .......

Lew said...

The previous provincial government was captured to an even greater degree than Postmedia by CAPP (among others). The result was an abdication of responsibility by the health and environment ministries to undertake proper independent study of the health effects of fracking.

It is now (past) time the new government demonstrates it is captured as well; by the public interest. Time for Mr. Heyman and Mr. Dix to step up.

JMacDuu said...

North Van Grumps. We lived in Whitehorse in the 70's and 80's when the air pollution was worse than Tokyo in the winter due to wood smoke from poorly burning stoves. Wild fires cannot be controlled to a great extent. Wood burning appliances can and should be regulated. On the SW coast, where people burn wood when temperatures are near 10 degrees, wood smoke pollution is a real problem and needs to be addressed. The pollution can be almost eliminated, as it was in Whitehorse, if people burn responsibly. It is not much to ask. As in Whitehorse, it took legislation, regulation and enforcement to control. Breathing fresh air is not optional. It is required.

RossK said...

Thanks folks, but...

The specific issue here, in my opinion is...

Why has this story, now eight days post M. Gazette piece, NOT been reported in the corp media in British Columbia?


North Van's Grumps said...

This link should work for you RossK

montreal gazette university of montreal frack

North Van's Grumps said...

BTW .... Former MLA Christy Clark should have dropped the nonexistent LNG job training program and backed her constituents needs of high paying jobs in Kelowna. Castanet has it covered

RossK said...

Here's the (no BC corp media) news link


e. a. f. said...

NOTHING, BUT NOTHING SHOULD STAND BETWEEN CORPORTIONS AND THEIR PROFITS, Just ask the Fraser Institute. Hey, a few women or a few hundred or a few thousand have to die or be beset with cancer, such is life, Corporations are entitled to their profits more than women and their babies are entitled to life. You see the people at the fraser inst. and their financial supporters don't live near fracking so it doesn't matter. They are the only ones who matter, its that simple. Of course the Province is going to print the shit from the Fraser Institute, just look at who ownes Post Media, hey didn't one of those Post Media people go to work for the Fraser Institute some years ago.

As to the fraser institute's claims of a ministry of health study from 2014, who would believe that. The B.C. Lieberals would say anything to ensure their financial supporters got their projects through. As to the "short term", the problem is all that pollution goes up in the air where people live year round. They're not like the supporters of the B.C. Lieberals, the Fraser Institute, etc. who have other places they can move to. The Koch Brothers who support the Fraser Institute live in New York city

we do not owe these vultures our health. We know who finances the fraser institute and they are a disgusting group of people who care little for the people who have to live in fracking areas.