The Los Angeles Times never fails to disappoint in its mediocre coverage of just about any story.
The most recent example of the paper's mediocrity regarding perchlorate coverage is seen in the Times' March 16, 2006 coverage of critics blasting the federal EPA's 24.5 ppb interim health goal for the chemical in drinking water. The Times prominently implies that this is a lax standard (never mind it is only an interim guidance while EPA studies and formulates a permanent standard) promoted solely because those wicked people in the Bush Administration want to spare industry and the military from having to clean up their health-threatening menacing messes:
Warning that babies are especially vulnerable, a federal panel of scientists has lambasted the Environmental Protection Agency's health goal for a toxic chemical that has widely contaminated drinking water and foods, particularly in Southern California.
The EPA's new goal for perchlorate, an ingredient of solid rocket fuel, "is not supported by the underlying science and can result in exposures that pose neurodevelopmental risks in early life," wrote Melanie Marty of California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, who chairs the EPA's Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee.
The letter from the committee of 26 scientists, sent to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson on March 8, warned the agency that it is putting babies at unnecessary risk of neurological damage. The EPA's interim goal for perchlorate, announced in January, "does not protect infants and should be lowered," the scientists said in their letter.
It is the second time in less than two months that an EPA scientific advisory panel has criticized the Bush administration for proposing a standard or guideline for a pollutant that would not adequately protect public health.
It is not until the 10th paragraph of the article that the Times grudgingly gives a one-sentence reference to the fact (previously reported on this Blog; see Post of February 18, 2005) that the 24.5 ppb interim guidance standard is not far off of a 20 ppb standard recommended by the National Academy of Sciences--a prestigious scientific organization in itself. Moreover, the Times article conveniently fails to mention that the Academy has issued a study finding no adverse health effects from perchlorate in milk (see Post on this Blog of November 18, 2005). Nor does the Times find it important to report there is reason to doubt that, at least in the United States (where iodine-abundant foods are consumed by almost everyone) and even in some foreign countries, the reduction in iodine caused by perchlorate likely has anything above a de minimis health effect at all (see Posts of March 9, 2005 and December 30, 2005).
Most everyone knows that the Times has seen a decline in its fortunes over the past few years. With reporting like the article discussed herein, it is easy to see why the decline continues.