Gupta: Chemicals around us – we must know more
October 26th, 2010
06:33 AM ET

Gupta: Chemicals around us – we must know more

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

This morning, I will be testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works. When I received the call to do this, truthfully, I was a little nervous. The topic is “Risks of toxic chemicals to children’s health,” something I have been interested in for a long time, and moreso after having three kids of my own. In fact, for the last year, I investigated the interplay between toxic chemicals and human health for a pair of documentaries on CNN.

I learned more than a series of text books could’ve taught me. I spent time with citizens in Mossville, Louisiana, arguably one of the most toxic cities in America. For countless hours, I spoke to government officials and private sector expert scientists both on and off camera. And, I looked carefully at the research about the toxics we live with everyday. The most eye-opening part was how much we don’t know.

While I am not a toxicologist or chemist by training, as a neurosurgeon, I have spent most of my life learning and trying to perfect the scientific method. Here is what I can tell you: In science, we expect absolute proof.  What’s the old adage? In God we trust; everyone else bring data.  But, the reality is, we don’t always have that proof. And, it is the area of potential impact of toxics on human health where the conventional scientific method is thoroughly challenged.

As things stand now: Out of the roughly 80,000 chemicals in commerce, only around 200 have been tested, and only five have been restricted. I guess I always assumed watchdog groups and the government had evaluated and signed off on the safety of the chemicals we encounter in our lives. It’s not to say that all chemicals are bad. Again, it is how much we don’t know.

Senate panel examining how chemicals in daily life affect kids' health

Make no mistake, learning things too late can be wildly dangerous. In the 1940s, the pesticide DDT was declared harmless to humans and animals. Advertisements showed housewives cheerfully spraying it all around the house, on the couches, even spraying the dog. Today, DDT is banned in this country. We sometimes find out chemicals we thought were harmless are not safe at all.

Lead is another example. Over the last 50 years, the acceptable levels of lead in the human body have been lowered every decade. Now, we know no amount of lead is safe. So many adults exposed to lead as children who suffered a whole range of damage to the brain and nervous system wish they would’ve known then' what they know now.

Experts all over the country told me a similar thing. In the United States, chemicals are innocent until proven guilty. And, the only way they are proven guilty is by health effects turning up in people who have been exposed, often years later. In some ways, that makes us all guinea pigs.

And, in case you are curious: What I am describing isn’t the same all over the world. The European Union has adopted a different standard to evaluate chemicals. It is more of a precautionary approach, and goes by the acronym REACH. Simply, the burden of showing a chemical is safe has shifted from the regulator to the producer. As a result citizens there know more about the air they breathe, the food they eat and the water they drink. People in the industry also told me this precautionary stance has not affected companies' bottom lines. Besides the cost saving in waste disposal, experts seemed confident the precautionary principle would spark innovation, create fewer hazardous chemicals and allow companies to remain as profitable as ever.

This blog is already too long, and I have to go find a suitable tie to wear, and yet – I didn’t even write about what inspired me to show up before the Senate today in the first place. I have three daughters now, and the world in which they will live will be different than the one in which I grew up. How exactly it will be different is up to us.

soundoff (1,008 Responses)
  1. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    A racket phoney J&D painting that has no record of existence – white blonde fatter type and tall black man – faggy involved from my psychic perceptions and just here to extort me of my business office apt. literally and own everything in addition to trying to put escorts in my building need to be apprehended immediately. ted yang also has no right of ownership here either and is a major co-conspirator. a parking lot cement curb marker – i forget what they're called. was branded with a volkeswagon only parks here and an ATF acronoym beside it – i don't need your natzi branson murder support here either and throw that idiot in jail who shot the guy Surkow because you were playing a british whore dog game on him and you're lying about the circumstances of the event. and go to prison too you ratsnest trash government and politicians. you fucking dog lords. theresa noelle younan younan marketing and management associates inc, int'l intst'r interpole galactica i-pic world ruler nation of nations trans ocean transcontinental lord spirit madonna monarch, criminology psychic priest. only real priest legitimately allowed.

    October 26, 2010 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aasdasd

      Sanja Gupta is a disgrace to medicine. He uses his position at CNN to promote himself every chance he gets. He needs his license to practice medicine taken away.

      July 8, 2011 at 20:20 | Report abuse |
  2. Steve

    As Chas stated...200 chemicals tested...this is the most absurd number I have ever heard in my life. There are over 24000 perscription drugs for sale in teh US...and you think these havent been tested?? Not to mention the pesticides, etc. Even chemical compounds that go into MAKEUP must undergo basic tox and carcinogen testing. Where do you get your numbers Dr. Gupta?
    Second, your reference to DDT. You mention that it was thought to be harmless to humans and animals...but then soimply state that it is now banned. Care to elaborate on why it was banned and subsequent studies? Not to mention the countless numers of dead from malaria after it was in fact banned. I didnt think so, rather leave the door open for more effective fear mongering over scary chemicals.
    I agree chemicals need to be assessed for their safety, but needlessly scaring people over chemicals that give the world huge benefit is ridiculous and dangerous. The slant in your article and your obvious lack of knowledge in the area of chemicals risk assesment and toxicology makes this seem nothing more than a publicity stunt on the part of congress no doubt orchestated by CNN.

    October 26, 2010 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bobby

      Great post! I work for a major chemical company and I assure you, we do tox testing on well over 200 chemicals a year at my one facility, in my company alone.

      If by TOX testing he means a thourough cancer testing human clinical evaluation, thats just rediculous because it would cost multiple millions per chemical and take decades for results to show up. Accellerated cancer testing is done routinely on mice though.

      October 26, 2010 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
  3. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    one major chemical poisoning problem is in toasters. they need to be frequently changed and new ones bought. because they aren't cleanable. the toasting elements are cleanable with soap and water etc. and the housing isn't cleanable only the crumbs can be cleaned out. when toasting there is a burnt taste on the toast even though it isn't burned because its chemical releasing fumes from damage and dirt etc. A new design has to be made that allows the cleaning of the toaster elements just like stove elements can be cleaned. i have to work on that too. also kettles should not be used. some coffee makers are good for boiling water. or boil water in the micro wave. or boil it in a pot. or change the kettles regularly with new ones. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic interpole galactica . stop using my speech and science for broadcast as if someone else is talking you whore head fag parties.

    October 26, 2010 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. BK

    I applaud the effort. However, news media celebrities lose quite a bit of credibility when their networks are supported by – hence their own paychecks are supported by – advertising dollars from the very companies that do most of the polluting in the world. Hypocrisy is prevalent in the news media that touts concerns about the environment while at the same time have no problem taking advertising dollars from companies on the top of the PERI Toxic 100 list. In fact, I believe CNN's "Planet in Peril" was sponsored ironically by Dow Chemical and ConocoPhilips. http://www.peri.umass.edu/toxic_press

    October 26, 2010 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    i hate volkeswagon and always have. who really owns volkeswagon anyway, theresa noelle younan ymma-iii

    October 26, 2010 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    also don't put your family name letters on your car license plates either stupid former neighbors in the building. don't put u the b. as if you're the boss on your car plates either. you've caused innocent people trouble and you're making trouble for yourselves. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic

    October 26, 2010 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    you know what i did with that parking spot curb they branded with rtf volksgarbage. i plastered it with mustard from my fridge – a new bottle better quality one. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii

    October 26, 2010 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    except i myself don't use mustard. i just buy it for my friends when they visit and have lunch or dinner here. except i don't have whore friends. and i haven't been able to see any friends because of all the corruptive filth i have to fight. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii – i said here's some mustard for your hot dog sucking fag racket.
    also i have a major plan for redesigning parking lots for better traffic control – it is me who analysed that one is needed and it is my construction road engineering solution. theresa noelle younan

    October 26, 2010 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    i suspect from psychic replay clairvoyance that your volkeswagon people also connected and employee co-conspired with police who weren't part of this city's force are the ones who gang rape assaulted my mother. but you also had a male psychiatry nurse involvement. – bigger size men doing this with you. and you are los angeles police and new york police involved. you people don't belong here at all. theresa noelle younan younan marketing and management associates inc, int'l inst'r. but i blame blacks also because they also do that and they work with that black hand natzi intimidation crime game.

    October 26, 2010 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    i met the one major suspect and that army sgt they arrested from belleville may have organized it – i'm not sure yet. that guy was at the wpd police desk.

    October 26, 2010 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Ruth

    Sadly, most people would rather not know. They don't want to know about anything that will disrupt their lives. Look at cigarette smokers as an example. They know the risks and they ignore them. The same goes for alcoholics and druggies. People don't want to accept the reality of things they enjoy harming them.

    October 26, 2010 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    he may be an english officer he may be german dark brown hair, he may be a swiss gangster connection all they have are police switzerland.

    October 26, 2010 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    the group 4 security armed men raped one patient blonde brown type in the hospital but they work with the city police hostaging and racketeering to extortion own money and rights and have street pedophile gangsters bothering kids around me. they usually wait for the old cripple person to lose some of their memory before they do that rape assault to make them totally void of emotion and lost in memory and partial ability to speak. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic interpole galactica

    October 26, 2010 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    they bother other patients to make them fall and hurt themselves physically as well and they aren't crazy to put them on those psycho wards. and you're linked to st. clair college student nurses some who aren't at st. clair anymore. theresa noelle younan, i guess the other hospitals work similarly from other facts i have. plus your fraternity of kook pyschiatrist are still linked to fraud trafficking rights and brokering ownership with the crooked university leaders and professors and some students who are also stealing research medicine inventions and other property of mine to get criminally research funding from the quako government who still hasn't learned to show respect to rightful owners and do their proper civic duty. younan mma -iii i-pic interpole galactica

    October 26, 2010 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Bill Davenhall

    This is only the tip of the iceberg as we all will come to learn in the years ahead. If you want to do some self discovery about the toxic materials where you live – or have lived – in US – take the time to check out the chemicals around your neighborhood – thanks to our EPA who cares what we do with our environment! Take a look at the Geomedicine site – put in your street address and be ready to learn just what it is that Sanjay is talking about! Go to http://www.esri.com\geomedicine – you can create a Place History to see what chemicals have lurked in all the places you have ever lived in the US.

    October 26, 2010 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Handy Info

    To tell you how well our FDA protects you please read up on the history of aspartame. Do you have headaches, irrability, mood swings, tiredness in ability to focus ? do you drink a lot of diet soda an keep gaining weight ? ALl of this is the effects of aspartame. It was denied over 10 times by the FDA in the 1980's until President Regan got elected. He was friends with Donald Rumsfeld (yes Bush's secretary of defense) Donald was the CEO of G.D. Searle and the company was losing a lot of money not being able to get Aspartame approved. As soon as Regan got elected the FDA chief at the time was fired and replaced. The new FDA chief rubber stamped Aspartame as approved and safe. Even though it has been shown to cause cancer, and act as a neurotoxin by independent researchers. Also the data for aspartame is skethcy at best as rats were recorded dying then two days later dying again and this STILL GOT APPROVED! Additionally the lawyer for the U.S. FDA quit and went to work for GD Searle during this time which is a complete conflict of interest! Stevia has been around far longer then Aspartame and used in Europe and Asia and is considered safe the FDA still will not approve it to this day. They only let it be sold as a diet/ herbal non regulated supplement. High Fructose Corn Syrup was also pushed through even though multiple studies show increase weight gain, increased hunger and less sensitivity to taste (it is in 80 to 90% of the foods in the grocery store or some corn syrup derititive. The Corn Syrup manufacturers are trying to get the name changed since people are no starting to avoid it. They are trying to call it by other non descript names so you won't avoid it.

    Also if your kids are drinking the energy drinks get them away from it. No one under 18 should be drinking those. They contain herbal ingredients which raise blood pressure, dilate blood vessels, and increase heart rate. Their hearts are still developing and this stuff could lead to a fatal aneurysm, heart attack, or thickened heart walls. The caffine will also cause issues such as irrability, headaches, and insomnia. It may take 78 cans of those energy drinks to kill you immediately from caffine overdose but the long term affects are devastating.

    Add, Bi-Polar, concentration,focus problems, aggresion in kids you didn't hear much about this until the 80's by the 90's it was in mainstream media and now 1/2 to 3/4 of teh students of most k-12 schools the kids are medicated for some health aliment, mental or physical. WATCH FOOD INC. YOU WILL SEE IT ALL AND START TO UNDERSTAND! Our food is whats killing us all along with whatever else is in the environment.

    Pressure Treated lumber playsets have very high amounts of arsenic in them yet many kids in the 80's and 90's played on them and still many communities still have them... Just another example of "chemicals" you dont know about. It is proven it can be ingested or even absorbed through the skin with contact with the wood. Nice summer days cause it to leech the Arsenic out of the pressure treated lumber, road salt causes it to leech even more.

    October 26, 2010 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bobby

      If you are willing to read rediculous speculation from uninformed people, why would you not read the scientific studies done on aspartme that universally show its safeness?

      October 26, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
  17. felix bali

    stop! "killing the world".and consider the eminent danger toxic substances pose in our environment.All you big companies making huge cash.while our children are suffering,dieing of cancer and all what not.mann... you gat to stop!

    October 26, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    some of those escorts who wear a uniform sometimes but not of any security company that exists are people like john bairds daughter, he's the federal transport minister, or his close relative or friend and they crook broker to own monies belonging to business deals of mine, etc. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic

    October 26, 2010 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Handy Info

    Bill thanks for posting that link

    October 26, 2010 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    well group 4 is based in holland but i beleive they're really german owned. theresa noelle younan , which is why i'm i'd the other stuff that way.

    October 26, 2010 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. singnbob

    this one is to medstudent who had a pompous remark or two,, do you know that your profession averages a lifespan of 57 years.. all that stuff your are exposed to is shortening your life and the lifestyle you aspire to will shorten it too! do asome good and think about what you are actually pursing. facts are the chemicals around us can be countered with careful diet and cleansing approaches but you won't hear about that in med school.. for the most part all youy will here is old science that won't do us much good in a new paradigm.. open you eyes to what is really going on!

    October 26, 2010 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    holland crooks stole my windpower developments with chinese people and they're still trafficking them around with political crime leader support. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic

    October 26, 2010 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    holland windmills were not windpower generation. i analyzed it and created windpower but they didn't create that theirs was just a decorative structure on farms. that was in 80'81. when they black market stole it from me with chinese/and other also prostitution involved people. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic interpole galactica y-research management

    October 26, 2010 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    you doctors have become hard hearted jealous crooked people. i know you wear nice compassionate faces but you are really dirty and you do crime to my face because i know what you are. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii.

    October 26, 2010 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Lt. Dan

    We are faced with the Rush and Beck era, where anything business wants to do is OK, and anything that promotes safety is some crazy liberal idea. This election is not about Barak Obama, it's about the image of Barak Obama that Fox news is spreading, vs who the real Barak Obama is. Rush and Beck are nothing but a front for big business, and big business wants nothing less that to control our lives in total. Just look at the hell the supreme court decision is about to unleash. Its freedom vs big business, and they won't let the constitution get in the way, there going to buy it, and rewrite it... WATCH

    October 26, 2010 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Anne McElroy Dachel

    Dr. Gupta is concerned about what increased chemical exposure is doing to our children. He admits that we don't know how safe these things are.

    He tells us that DDT was accepted as safe in the 1940s. And I'd to also remind him that doctors advertised Camels cigarettes in the 1950s. And for years the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency in charge of the vaccine program, has been telling us that the mercury used in vaccines is "safe mercury" and not related to the epidemic explosion in autism.

    A lot things seem to take precedence over the health and safety of our children. Those agencies charged with oversight, like the FDA and CDC are also directly influenced by the companies they're supposed to be overseeing. A recent stunning example is the fact that the last head of the CDC, Dr. Julie Gerberding, a long time denier of a link between vaccines and autism, is now head of the vaccine division at Merck Pharma.

    We might all think like Gupta who believes "watchdog groups and the government had evaluated and signed off on the safety of the chemicals we encounter in our lives." Maybe in a perfect world.

    Anne Dachel
    Media editor: Age of Autism

    October 26, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OhPlease

      Please explain how thimerosal is causing autism in children when the incidence of autism has INCREASED since it was removed from children's vaccines almost 20 years ago. Again, people are very quick to look at a website with little bullet points and determine that must be the cause of the problem they're seeing. There is no way thimerosal left the intestines, crossed the blood brain barrier and caused autism. It is laughable that this whole issue stems from a study that 10/12 authors have refuted themselves, was done to support a lawsuit using 12 children by a crooked doctor that subjected mentally ill children to colonoscopies and lumbar punctures (though this would say nothing about the connection). The proof is in the pudding, you're believing something brought on by a doctor that paid kids a few pounds at a birthday party to take their blood and manipulate results as he saw fit. Might I suggest you look into actual research done on the topic, read the retraction from The Lancet where the article suggesting a link between autism and vaccines was originally published, and then read the legal proceeding that cause Dr. Andrew Wakefield to lose his license to practice medicine ever again. Ugh! There is so much more I could say.

      May 31, 2012 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
  27. Rod Upright

    The precautionary principle is a tool used by environmentalist in order to get around the current risk assessment policies. It is not based on science, but on how you feel about a chemical.

    If you want to know more about this go to: http://www.paralyzingprecautionprinciple.com/

    October 26, 2010 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Rod Upright

    Dr. Gupta falls under the category of a scientist with an environmentalist agenda. Dr. Gupta follows the same environmentalist rant, DDT is bad (even though it is the only chemical effective in controlling the malaria problem), EU's REACH program is a great idea (just don't mention any of huge negative issues attached to the program) and the precautionary principle ( the environmentalist dream-banning chemicals without scientific proof).

    I would love to know what qualifications Dr. Gupta possesses to allow him to testify on Capital Hill. I figure his testimony will give the politicians ammunition for their agenda.

    October 26, 2010 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Floyd

    Everything around us is made of chemicals, including our food, both good and bad.

    That refinery shown in the picture at the top of this article is one of many that refine the gasoline you fill your car or truck with to get to work.

    October 26, 2010 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • IceT

      Controversy sells ... fair & honest stories are boring. You have to slant your story to build controversy to increase web hits thus increasing ad space value. So, as many posters have pointed out here, profit is king & evil corporations like CNN don't care about people, only profits!

      October 26, 2010 at 15:00 | Report abuse |
  30. Brenda

    am very happy that they have an article like this posted. In august I put a pesticide around my house called Bayer Total Insect Killer Granules. I had a severe reaction and almost died my throat started closing off. The product in it contains Pyrethrum and is in almost all pesticides. It can kill infants because they do not have the enzymes to process the toxin yet. I had to move out of my house for 3 months because every time I went back I could sense the chemicals everywere being so sensitive to it and would get very ill. When I called Bayer they said "Oh you must have a existing condition". When I went away from the house I would instantly get better so how does that make it a existing condition? I also have a friend who just spent a month in the hospital for using Tilex and had burns all over her body. Another used Pine Sol all the time and her dog started having seizures because Pine is harmful to animals so she switched to natural products with Tee tree oil and the dog stopped having the seizures. Please be careful with chemicals try natural products instead that dont harm infants, animals, and people before using the harmful chemicals. Also the drug companies own the pesticide companies so they do not talk to doctors about the risks of these products. They just push chemicals to make $. Its all about $, they could care less if your whole family dies.

    October 26, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Brenda

    McCampbell (2001) provides addition evidence of the close ties between the chemical and pharmaceutical industry:

    The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly used to be a part of DowElanco, the primary manufacturer of chlorpyrifos.

    The manufacturer of the allergy medicine Allegra also makes the insecticide Sevin.

    Monsanto, who manufactures Roundup and other herbicides, is a wholly owned subsidiary of a pharmaceutical company called Pharmacia.

    Zeneca manufactures pesticides and drugs, including drugs used to treat the conditions linked to pesticides.

    Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories make both pharmaceuticals and pesticides.

    BASF makes pharmaceutical ingredients and pesticides.

    Bayer manufactures aspirin and the pyrethroid insecticide Tempo.

    October 26, 2010 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. elaine dow

    In defense to the NAA post on autism and vaccines. Thimerosal, trade named merthiolate was banned in the late 1970's when a hospitall nursing staff used it on umbilical cords in the nursery. Ten babies died and the other three severely brain injured from mercury poisoning. It was banned. You cannot buy it in the store, yet they inject it into new babies and pregnant mothers. There are around two hundred symptoms of mercury poisoning side by side with the symptoms of autism they are the same. In the state of Maryland, in 1990, 28 children who had autism were in the Maryland school system, now over 8000. It was not removed from vaccines in 2001 as the media suggests. You have to pass state legislation and the pediatricians come out to oppose its removal. Only a handfull of states have banned it. The medical community states that these children would have been classified as retarded before, any physicians that cannot distingush between mental retardation and autism is not qualified to be practicing medicine. The Journal of Neurology, reported in November 2007, the chemicals causing children developing autism, it was mercury and the RX drug of Valproic Acid. ADD/HD they found lead and Oppositional Disorder they found lawn chemicals. Recent report form Harvard investigating the brain damage seen in autism, mercury was the first listed along, pesticides and PCB's. Mercury is the second most toxic substance on earth. The flu vaccines contained 25mg. of mercury and you would have to weigh 550 pounds to get that out. Right now federal mandates are passing for health care workers to get vaccinated with the flu vaccine. Seems only 40% of them were getting vaccinated. It seems they don't believe in this vaccine and I don't blame them. But when a physician gives 3, 4, 5, 6, or seven vaccines on one day, up to fifity vaccines before they enter school well there has been not studies by the government to say this is safe. One reminder, pastural animals do not get vaccines with mercury in them and they don't have autism and the other neurological injuries we are seeing in the children. I Elaine

    October 26, 2010 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Ronald Cohn

    I see that many people here are frightened by the possibility that chemicals may harm them or their family. I am a medical student too. In two years when I graduate, I will take an oath to promote the health of my patients, AKA their overall wellbeing, both mental and physical.

    The facts remain that our bodies are made of innumerable and vastly complex chemical compounds, all working in unison to provide structure to our bodies, provide energy to us, and maintain us. Human biochemistry is a beautiful thing. The fact that we are made of the same stuff everything else is made of allows doctors to use other chemical compounds to intervene in our own biochemistry when it goes haywire. These are drugs.

    Amazingly, with all the potential weak spots in our biochemistry for other chemical compounds to interfere, humanity is flourishing even in the wake of invention of new chemicals. Cancer incidence, morbidity, and deaths have decreased over the past several decades, and human life expectancy is ever increasing. Our own biological and biochemical systems are showing to be astoundingly resilient to all the other stuff the world throws at it.

    I think it is wrong to be overly concerned and anxious about "artificial" chemicals. Bacteria, plants, and fungi have been evolving and competing with animals (and each other) for billions of years, and have in themselves established the single most complex chemical weapons program ever seen to annoy, mutate, and kill each other and us. The plants around us, the soil, and even the air we breathe are teeming with a diverse array of complex chemicals produced by the "natural" world. And yet we survive. Most of these chemicals are as complex or more complex than "artificial" chemicals produced by mankind, and have more specific and insidious mechanisms of action. In fact, a very large fraction of "artificial" chemicals are altered versions of natural chemicals or based on them.

    Animals have always lived with chemicals, we are made of chemicals, and we are always being and always will be exposed to chemicals. Don't be afraid of them!

    I think that Gupta was trying to say that there are many compounds used in all aspects of our lives whose exact mechanisms of interaction with our bodies' own biochemistry have not been described. This is an admirable, albeit difficult goal, since there are a vast number of compounds that we interact with daily, so many that it is impossible to examine them all. The common ones brought up by anxious people, like aspartame, conjugated mercury in vaccines, and the like HAVE been studied, precisly because they have sparked such interest. You can trust the results of those studies.

    But take comfort in the fact that there are thousands times more chemicals in our own natural environment produced by nature that we don't even know about, let alone how they affect human biochemistry.

    Bottom line: it's going to be ok! There is no need to be so anxious about chemicals.

    October 26, 2010 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Maurine meleck

    It's all going to be ok?? That's what they said for dozens of years when they gave people suffering from syphilis mercury straight in the mouth to cure them. More people are dying from cancer, AD, MS, Parkinsons, than ever and more children are sick from autism(really immune dysfunction, oxidative stress etc), asthma, childhood diabetes etc than ever. It's not going to be all right. A lot of increases in lots of diseases with the increase in vaccines–autism in particlar. How do we account for that? We need vaccine choice, parental consent, the power to decde what to put in our won bodies and for our children. Down with mandaates.
    Maurine Meleck, SC

    October 26, 2010 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. mkass

    It seems that poisoning the public for profit is a long-accepted way of doing business for various industries. Our children are paying a very large price for this, profit über ales attitude. http://naturalvitalitykids.com/2010/09/whats-amiss-with-our-children/

    October 26, 2010 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Ronald Cohn

    "More people are dying from cancer, AD, MS, Parkinsons, than ever and more children are sick from autism(really immune dysfunction, oxidative stress etc), asthma, childhood diabetes etc than ever"

    This is your quote. First of all, cancer deaths are decreasing. MS and Parkinsons are diseases of old age. The neuropathological mechanism of autism has not been determined yet, and autism rates only increased because of updated diagnostic guidelines. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disorder likely caused by certain varieties of HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) types inherited by infants, which by the way are always mutating themselves in order to keep our immune system working.

    Diseases have specific mechanisms, and each disease is different. There is no magical cause of every disease that is the result of some industrial conspiracy. At least your kids aren't dying from measles, tuberculosis, polio, sepsis, and the like, which were top killers just 50 years ago. In the late 1950s, measles alone killed about 700,000 people a year. Now it's less than 300 typically.

    October 26, 2010 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Maurine meleck

      MS and parkinsons are no longer diseases of old age and people getting AD are getting younger and younger. Your comments about diseases in the 50's are ridiculous. I lived hten and never knew one person that died from measles or heard of it–or the chicken pox and on and on and on. Autism is an autoimmune disorder Mr. Cohn. Autism is merely a word they use so they can put it in the DSM-it's not a psychologocal disorder but immune dysfunction, oxidative stress, often mito disorder etc. and regressive encephalopathy plus inflammatory bowel disease.

      October 26, 2010 at 18:29 | Report abuse |
  37. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    actually i'm not sure if t. yang is getting the rent cheques because there's a long delay sometimes in the bank processing them. the stupido painter doesn't know where he lives so how could he be getting the cheques and why did the painter end up claiming to be the apt. building managers. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic interpole galactica, y-research management . so who are the chinese who really own all those made in china mfg. plants and those buildings many supposedly own now.

    October 26, 2010 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Craig

    I just watched Dr. Gupta on CNN World and for the most part he misrepresented "chemicals being innocent before proven guilty." I guess the Doc doesn't understand how much work and effort goes into getting a chemical on the shelf. Ever heard of a pre-manufacturing notice (PMN) - where chemicals undergo a thorough review and typical families of chemicals are flagged for additional testing?
    Agree the EU is a bit ahead (and a bit of an overkill), however, 90% of the chemicals are in products world wide (or sold by companies on the world market). Therefore, chemicals used in the US would be used around the world and thus would fall under the EU REACH program. Therefore, most of the chemicals used in the US are investigated indirectly by the EU laws! Didn't see that in the report.
    Lets look at chemical testing... same people complain about not testing chemicals but yet when lab mice are used this is "in humane" and is protested. Well, cannot have it both ways we either do the testing or no. Albleit computer modeling is being developed but will take time to have correlations with lab testing. It would have been nice to have a counter point to the story.

    October 26, 2010 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Liz, Columbus OH

      The synthetic chemicals need to be proven to be safe, not proven to do no harm. There is a difference. I do not trust chemical companies because too many companies defend making chemicals which are proven to be carcinogens.
      Take the manufacturing process of PVC. The process itself harms the environment, but the companies continue to manufacture it. Then when PVC is burned dioxin is released into the air. Dioxin is a known carcinogen. So why would companies continue to manufacture it? profit , of course. The general public is not aware of this information I do not understand why it is not on the front page of every newspaper in the country. If people knew the harm PVC does, they would not buy products made from it.

      October 28, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  39. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    they broke #6 knee also and tried to break his back. he's got 4 children and needs tofind a house to rent and move but there's some other problems. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic interpole galactica

    October 26, 2010 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. nahuntason

    Dr. Gupta should check his facts regarding the EU REACH regulations. I've been 'in the trenches' of implementing that abomination for nearly 4 years. The real purpose of the legislation is to protect European Chemical Companies. Don't take my word for it - check out the legislation itself. And I know first hand that companies are spending hundreds of millions of Euros to comply with the requirements. An entire new bureaucratic quagmire has been created. And of course the costs, ultimately, will be passed on in increased product costs.

    October 26, 2010 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. itskohler

    I think you are slightly off about only the number of chimicals being tested.

    October 27, 2010 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Liz, Columbus OH

    FOR ALL please read Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber for the truth.

    October 28, 2010 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Mandrus

    Right, Only 200 commercial compounds have been 'tested.' Gupta is a poorly informed novice. He knows nothing about toxicology. These compounds, yes thousands of them are carefully tested for all kinds of toxic effects. The only question here is: Why does CNN hire a fool like this to write on a topic he knows nothing about? The answer: Politics. More hysteria and non-sense. Thanks CNN. Next time call the local university. There are whole departments devoted to toxicology. Dump your idiot Gupta please.

    July 8, 2011 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
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    March 5, 2012 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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