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Metachem waste site, DelawareOnline.com

Delaware waste site: 36,000% chance of cancer?


By —— Bio and Archives--February 28, 2011

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From Junkscience

We’ve all heard of giving the mythical 110% in terms of effort. Now DelawareOnline.com reporter Jeff Montgomery writes about a hazardous waste site in Delaware that is way more than guaranteed to give a visitor cancer.

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About the abandoned Metachem waste site, Montgomery reports,

  “Inhaling dust inside the fence at Metachem, where vapors of pesticide ingredients and dioxins swirl in the wind, could increase the risk of cancer 900 times over a lifetime.”

Given that about 40 percent of Americans can expect to develop some sort of invasive cancer during their lifetimes and assuming for the sake of argument that cancer strikes randomly (it doesn’t), then anyone who even approaches the site would be more than guaranteed to get cancer (40% times 900), according to Montgomery’s hysterical writing.

Perhaps what Montgomery meant to write was that exposure to dust at the Metachem site might increase one’s risk of cancer by 900 times one-in-a-million (0.000001), a sort of baseline incremental cancer risk level used by the U.S. EPA. If so, then what Montgomery meant to write was that exposure to site dust would up one’s lifetime cancer risk from about 40% to 40.09%. Of course, since “about 40%” is indistinguishable from 40.09%, the site is unlikely to meaningfully raise anyone’s risk of cancer.

Such a slight and hypothetical incremental increase in risk should give Delaware pause as to whether it really wants to spend $100 million returning the Metachem site back to a risk level the EPA would consider as safe, say 40.009%. What may be in more dire need of remediation is how DelawareOnline.com reports environmental news.


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Steve Milloy -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and GreenHellBlog.com and is the author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them

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