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post #141 of 169 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baby boo
I gave the reference in a previous post, Bot:

Five-hundred life-saving interventions and their cost-effectiveness.
Tengs TO - Risk Anal - 01-JUN-1995; 15(3): 369-90

Abstract:
We gathered information on the cost-effectiveness of life-saving interventions in the United States from publicly available economic analyses. "Life-saving interventions" were defined as any behavioral and/or technological strategy that reduces the probability of premature death among a specified target population. We defined cost-effectiveness as the net resource costs of an intervention per year of life saved. To improve the comparability of cost-effectiveness ratios arrived at with diverse methods, we established fixed definitional goals and revised published estimates, when necessary and feasible, to meet these goals. The 587 interventions identified ranged from those that save more resources than they cost, to those costing more than 10 billion dollars per year of life saved. Overall, the median intervention costs $42,000 per life-year saved. The median medical intervention cost $19,000/life-year; injury reduction $48,000/life-year; and toxin control $2,800,000/life-year. Cost/life-year ratios and bibliographic references for more than 500 life-saving interventions are provided.
Not being familiar with how these studies are carried out, I am curious if there is any estimate of the consequences to human life and property when there are no such interventions made, ever. Many of us assumed the detriment to controlling things like toxins from various industrial sources, like PCBs or lead contamination of drinking water supplies and rivers and streams was based on preventing making the water unsafe to drink, or exterminating a part of the food chain. Since most of these toxins being controlled are part of an industrial production system, forcing a clean up of the waste that avoids such contamination seems to be worthwhile. I mean, I don't care if it costs you $all you have, whatever the number, to prevent you from making an arbitrary product for your personal profit that makes my kids come out with three heads, or makes the value of my home drop a nickel.

So, how are we supposed to interpret your statistics? Is that what the cost is for controlling industrial waste that is classified as toxins that saves a single life per year? Or is that the cost per year to prevent our water supply from becoming so toxic we can no longer live here in a hundred years or some length of time? Jim
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post #142 of 169 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Botnst
You might wish to read the previous posts in which this was discussed, or is this a rhetorical device?
It wasn't intended as rhetorical, it was intended to note the idea of eradicating environmentalists so the path of least resistance for any and all causes, usually making money, but in this case saving millions of lives from a problem that has been overcome elsewhere without DDT, is a pretty shallow concept. I very much doubt DDT only affects the egg shell integrity on a single species of bird, but I could be wrong. I also find the original point of DDT being safe enough to eat with your Wheaties every morning makes the rest of the argument suspect. Without some not free education and supervision program I see the benefits of DDT in this case a short term benefit with potential long term risks that the case made does not address from a funding or personnel or training or any other perspective.

Jim
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post #143 of 169 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting coincidence. I received this message on a listserver that I subscribe to. I removed the name of the person who sent it for obvious reasons.

Bot



Dear colleagues,

In our ornithological work here at the Environmental Center we have recently become aware of the use of DDT in the rural areas for the control of head lice in children. The DDT is applied directly to the head of the child. This practice was apparently common in the past in other countries. However, the potential risks from biomagnification in humans and other animals are still grave.

The Environmental Center would like to develop a project to address the problem. Anyone who may be interested in such a project, either offering advice, background information or directly contributing to research and public advocacy work is welcome to contact us. Please forward this message to others you think may be interested in getting involved.
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post #144 of 169 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 02:29 PM
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Nah, I think they are just nit-picking.
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post #145 of 169 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deathrattle
Nah, I think they are just nit-picking.
Ah.
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post #146 of 169 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimSmith
It wasn't intended as rhetorical, it was intended to note the idea of eradicating environmentalists so the path of least resistance for any and all causes, usually making money, but in this case saving millions of lives from a problem that has been overcome elsewhere without DDT, is a pretty shallow concept. I very much doubt DDT only affects the egg shell integrity on a single species of bird, but I could be wrong. I also find the original point of DDT being safe enough to eat with your Wheaties every morning makes the rest of the argument suspect. Without some not free education and supervision program I see the benefits of DDT in this case a short term benefit with potential long term risks that the case made does not address from a funding or personnel or training or any other perspective.

Jim
A couple of observations here: The people who are vouching for the safety of DDT are form the Harvard Center for International Development (among many others). I would hardly characterize Harvard as being a right wing think tank bent on putting profit over science or principle. Would you?

Also they are not he only ones recommending the limited use of DDT in Africa. The World health Organization is too, as are many physician groups.

Secondly I do not disapprove the use of all toxin control measure. Some are ridiculous:

Trichloroethylene standard of 2.7 (vs 11) mcg/ml in drinking water: $34,000,000/YLS

..and some I support:

Chlorination of drinking water: $3100/YLS
Ban asbestos in brake blocks: $29,000/YLS
Automatic collimators on X-ray equipment to reduce radiation exposure: $23,000/YLS

etc.

Everything we do has a cost associated with it. What I oppose is spending ridiculous amounts of money to reduce risk to nearly zero when it takes that resource away from solving other problems.

Finally, I'm kind of surprised that you didn't do a google search and look for counter-arguments to the use of DDT, because they are out there.

So the question becomes: how do we evaluate conflicting claims in science? It's something I do in my line of work every day. E.g., there has been a raging controversy in the Emergency Medicine community about the use of tPA for stroke since the NINDS published their much criticized study a decade ago. In fact emergency medicine professional societies, in both the U.S. and Canada, have all come out against making tPA the standard of stroke care because they dispute the science upon which this recommendation is based. The American Academy of Neurology has taken the opposite position. So what is the practioner in the field supposed to do when faced with conflicting evidence? I don't know about you but I can't comprehensively investigate the validity of every position that I hold on a scientific matter. So what I do is read some original research and when faced with conflicting claims I look at who has the most credibility in my mind. It's the same way a jury would decide a case like this. So as far as I'm concerned the opinions of World Health Orgnanization and the Harvard Center for International Development trump those of someone who is trying to make a buck by selling a controversial book e.g.

Let me point out that you can find conflicting evidence on just about any scientific topic. There are those who believe, e.g., that HIV does not cause AIDS. Take a look at the site virusmyth.com e.g. That's "virus myth." This in spite of the fact that protease inhibitors, which specifically target the HIV virus, have been dramatically effective in increasing survival and decreasing opportunistic infections in AIDS patients. There are those who deny the holocaust happened and they have web sites and all sorts of "scientific evidence" that you can spend a lifetime refuting. There is a movement that claims that the U.S. government, not Al-Queda, blew up the WTC on 9/11 and one of its most prominent proponents is a physicist from Brigham Young University who states, contrary to the opinion of many other scientists, that the buildings could not possibly have collapsed in the way that they did. How does one then explain the planes that we all clearly saw on tape colliding into the buildings? Just a few days ago Al-Queda released video footage of several of the 9/11 hijackers in a training camp in Afganistan using box cutters to immobilize their "opponents."

But conspiracy theories flourish nonethelss.

Last edited by baby boo; 09-10-2006 at 03:43 PM.
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post #147 of 169 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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these are excellent, thought-provoking arguments. After 40 years of essentially accepting the dogma of DDT being the cause of all manner of enviro disasters, about 10 years ago I started reading tropical medicine guys arguing for its use. That was some radical stuff. One of the listservers I subscribe to (ecolog, the Ecological Society of America) has had an ongoing discussion about DDT in particular. (uh FYI, the Ecological Society of America is a bunch of research academics and students, primarily. Not environmentalists, necessarily, though they tend ot be). On ecolog you can find an awful lot of divergence of opinion among the correspondents, though most of them, like me, are opposed to broadcast spraying.

A very vocal and very large minority are completely opposed to all pesticides, seeing no ethical or moral difference between poisoning any life and the possible disease and death of humans. Huamns are no different in value from any other life. I believe this is a natural and logical step of scientific atheism.

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post #148 of 169 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 12:46 AM
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Some more data from the Tengs study, this time comparing the cost effectiveness of proposed government regulations from various agencies:

Federal Aviation Administration: $23,000/YLS
Consumer Product Safety Commission: $68,000/YLS
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: $78,000/YLS
Occupational Health and Safety Administration: $88,000/YLS
Environmental Protection Agency: $7,600,000/YLS

!!!
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post #149 of 169 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 06:13 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimSmith
It wasn't intended as rhetorical, it was intended to note the idea of eradicating environmentalists so the path of least resistance for any and all causes, usually making money, but in this case saving millions of lives from a problem that has been overcome elsewhere without DDT, is a pretty shallow concept. I very much doubt DDT only affects the egg shell integrity on a single species of bird, but I could be wrong. I also find the original point of DDT being safe enough to eat with your Wheaties every morning makes the rest of the argument suspect. Without some not free education and supervision program I see the benefits of DDT in this case a short term benefit with potential long term risks that the case made does not address from a funding or personnel or training or any other perspective.

Jim
Jesus Christ, Jim, WTF said anything about eliminating environmentalists? get a grip.

The point being made by the Green One and myself is that DDT is not evil incarnate, it is a tool. The tool was misused and terrible damage resulted. Worse than that however, is the deletarious effect of not having that same tool available for wise use.

Thousands of children in the tropics die every year for want of comprehensive malaria hygiene. Properly applied, DDT could be an integral part of good hygiene. Not allowing its use in the tropics because chuckleheaded nincompoops think DDT is Satan's bath powder results in the needles, painful death of many, many thousands of people, mostly children.

B
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post #150 of 169 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Botnst
Jesus Christ, Jim, WTF said anything about eliminating environmentalists? get a grip.

The point being made by the Green One and myself is that DDT is not evil incarnate, it is a tool. The tool was misused and terrible damage resulted. Worse than that however, is the deletarious effect of not having that same tool available for wise use.

Thousands of children in the tropics die every year for want of comprehensive malaria hygiene. Properly applied, DDT could be an integral part of good hygiene. Not allowing its use in the tropics because chuckleheaded nincompoops think DDT is Satan's bath powder results in the needles, painful death of many, many thousands of people, mostly children.

B
That was one of baby boo's propositions in an earlier post. Which is my main point in all this - that perhaps DDT is not evil incarnate, but neither are environmentalists. And humans have a poor record of looking ahead at the cumulative effects of wastes and toxins they produce while in pursuit of, typically, profit. In all of the statistics baby boo has produced I have yet to see the cumulative cost of failure to protect the environment estimated. It is always presented as an annual cost for annual life saving. My point is, nature doesn't rezero the environment at the end of the year. What was that site in Upstate NY? Love Canal? How about not being able to eat fish from the Hudson River? Even Lake Champlain Region recommends limits on the fish you catch you use for human consumption. The point of most environmental initiatives is to either restore a functional food chain by cleaning up the toxins humans generate, or to force people to think about the industrial and other processes that dump stuff into the environment that is not "naturally occuring" before they become toxic to the food chain. I think that is a good exercise and, in most cases, we should make every effort to minimize those effects. We are all a product of a process that is older than the industrial revolution. We should not be so willing to just let the environment that nurtured us to this point fail due to negligence or to serve expedience. Jim
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