We can expect the Gas Fracking industry to trot out the four dogs of the chemical industry. This interview from Democracy Now explains how the four dogs of the chemical industry works.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me get some responses from industry groups. After the Department of Health and Human Services listed styrene in its 12th Report on Carcinogens, the Styrene Information and Research Center issued a statement saying, quote, "The designation is completely unjustified by the latest science and resulted from a flawed process that focuses on only those data that support a cancer concern, and in the case of styrene ignored the preponderance of data that fail to suggest a cancer concern for this substance." Jennifer Sass, your response?
JENNIFER SASS: Yeah. You know, this is part of what public health people sort of call the "four dog defense," you know, and it’s sort of the four dogs that the industry puts in the fight. And you see these tricks over and over again. They were probably first developed by the tobacco industry, and they’ve been carried through with asbestos and all the other toxic chemicals.
So the first is, you know, "My dog doesn’t bite. My dog isn’t harmful." And that’s the first line of defense, is to deny that the chemical is harmful at all. So, both styrene and formaldehyde industry have done this.
The second one is, "Well, OK, my dog bites. The evidence is there. I can’t deny it anymore. But it didn’t bite you. You’re not exposed. So don’t worry about it. You’re still safe. It causes some cancers in lab rats, but you’re not exposed to my chemical."
Then we start finding it in our environment. We find it in our food, in our water, in our air, and in people’s bodies with biomonitoring. And then the chemical industry will say, "OK, my dog bites. It bit you. You’re exposed. But it didn’t hurt you. Don’t worry." And the arguments there go something like, "Well, it causes cancers in lab rats, but those lab rats are different than people," for differences that are hard actually to explain for the industry. "And so, don’t worry about it. Jut because it causes cancers in lab animals, don’t worry. You’re safe. Even though you have it in your body, your families, it’s in your food, in your drinking water, it’s contaminating the air you breathe, don’t sweat it."
And then, what they might say at the end is, "Well, OK"—you know, really when they’re pushed with the evidence, they’ll say, "OK, my dog bit you, and it hurt you, but it was your fault." And this might be something like, "OK, my chemical causes cancer. Yes, you’re exposed to my chemical, but that your levels are too low." And that’s sort of the stage that they’re at here, Amy. So with the formaldehyde industry, they’re saying, "Well, you know, these studies of tens of thousands of workers that are exposed to formaldehyde over a working lifetime and have cancers"—not only of the nose and throat, but also of the blood and bone marrow, of leukemias and lymphomas, which is what the industry is trying to deny—they say, "Well, those workers were exposed at much higher levels, and you’re not exposed to those high levels."
But actually, when people are exposed, they’re exposed even when they’re children or infants, because a lot of that formaldehyde is in your home. And the indoor levels are actually much higher than the outdoor levels, because the fumes are emitted from a lot of that particle board and plywood and composites that furniture and other things in your home are made of. So, it’s a real problem, because pregnant women are exposed. People are exposed, therefore, pre-birth, early in childhood. If people live in the homes, they may spend really most of the day in the home, and so vulnerable periods of their development they’re exposed to these chemicals. And that’s much more serious, in a lot of ways, than an adult healthy male worker.
In the past decade fracking has become a common practice in the natural gas industry stretching across wide swaths of the U.S. People in those areas need to become aware of the potential downsides from the fracking boom. One of the most critical is the threat of contamination of their aquifers.