To perform risk assessment properly, you have to understand that risk is unavoidable, and double-sided. There are risks to taking any action, as well as risks to not taking it. In other words, there are costs and benefits.
Activists are notoriously one-sided when making such assessments. In addition to exaggerating the dangers of alleged problems, they also overestimate the benefits of their proposed solutions to them. Simultaneously, they downplay the costs of remediation, while overlooking or obscuring the benefits provided by the targeted “problem.”
Climate change activists are the premier example of this, so strident are they in opposing a posited, but unproven global warming that hardly anyone dares challenge that it’s really occurring or suggest that it might be beneficial.
The crusade against PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) is but the latest example.
Even Republicans in the U.S. Senate fell victim to the hysteria, introducing a bill last year in Congress to require the EPA to add PFAS to its centralized database of environmental releases or waste processing of toxic chemicals by industrial and federal facilities.
How can that be bad? First of all, PFAS are widely used in food packaging, water-repellent fabrics, nonstick cookware, polishes, paints, fire-fighting foams, etc. Has anyone accurately measured or even estimated the enormous positive impact of those products, much less documented the alleged dangers of the chemicals?
The answer is ‘no,’ Which is why the proposal was called “a bright beacon for ambulance chasers to knock on the doors of every company that uses PFAS applications in their manufacturing process, like pharmaceutical and semiconductor companies, and every gas station, airport, and refinery that uses fire retardants.”
Steve Milloy of JunkScience.com, which he founded to expose money-making blame games dressed up as “science,” was even more direct.
“The epidemiology is awful. It doesn’t show that anyone has been harmed,” says Milloy.
“I think the science is really lousy and there is nothing there,” he adds. “Activists just keep pumping this stuff.”
So they do. It behooves us to ask who’s benefiting from all the activism, and who always gets stuck with the bill.