2009 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 2009 20:31:17 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] HEALTH, VOCs: Camp Lejeune (NC) statement
From: 	Jerome Ensminger <jmensminger@hotmail.com>

These respected scientists have by their own free will written the below
statement in protest to many of the erroneous conclusions/assumptions
made in the NRC report released on 13 June 2009 regarding the Camp
Lejeune water contamination tragedy. I both praise and thank them for
what they have done for all of the Marines, Sailors, their family
members, and the thousands of civilian employees who were unwittingly
exposed to the horrendous levels of contamination through their tapwater
at Camp Lejeune.

J. M. Ensminger

Statement in response to National Research Council report on Camp Lejeune:

    We are disappointed and dismayed at the report titled, “Contaminated
    Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune – Assessing Potential Health
    Effects,” released by the National Research Council (NRC) on
    Saturday, June 13, 2009.  This report was two years in preparation
    by scientists, many of whom we know and respect, that reached
    puzzling and in some cases erroneous conclusions. We are aware of
    the complex situation regarding availability and access to data, and
    each of us has participated in committees advising the Agency for
    Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) about how to move
    forward with health studies.  It is our view that the Marines and
    their families who were exposed to dangerous chemicals in the Camp
    Lejeune drinking water over several decades deserve to know if this
    exposure has had an effect on their health.  The most direct way to
    assess this is to conduct valid epidemiologic studies of those who
    lived or worked there, and we urge ATSDR to continue their efforts
    to carry these to conclusion.  The overall judgment about the impact
    of the chemicals on health can then be informed both by the general
    scientific literature the NRC reviewed, plus findings from directly
    relevant studies of the exposed population.

    Specific areas where we disagree with the NRC report include their
    assessment of the water distribution modeling, their assessment of
    the risk caused by exposure to two of the principal contaminants
    (TCE and PCE), and the likelihood of conducting meaningful
    epidemiologic studies in this setting.  We view the water modeling
    undertaken by ATSDR and its consultants as “state-of-the-art” and
    worth carrying through to completion so that it can be used in the
    on-going and proposed health studies.  There may be uncertainties
    about specific levels of exposure for individual households or
    people, but these can be described in the study results.  We also
    agree with the National Toxicology Program that TCE and PCE are
    “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens” and reject the
    characterization of the evidence as “limited/suggestive” as
    presented in the NRC report.  We note that this characterization of
    solvent mixtures actually steps back from previous work done by the
    National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine in 2003.
     Finally, we disagree with the thrust of the NRC report that it is
    unlikely that scientifically informative epidemiologic studies of
    the Camp Lejeune population can be done. The NRC doubts that
    “definitive” answers can come from any study, but this sets the bar
    too high – no one study can provide definitive answers, and all
    studies must be considered in the light of other scientific
    evidence.  From our experience in other settings, we believe that
    useful studies of the Camp Lejeune population are possible and
    furthermore that the Marines and their families deserve our
    government’s best efforts to carry them out.

    For these reasons, we urge the ATSDR to consider this particular NRC
    report in the context of other expert advice they have received
    during the past decade and the competent work already done by agency
    staff. Since the NRC report is at such variance with the
    recommendations of other water modeling and epidemiologic experts,
    we believe it should not stand as the final word.


    Ann Aschengrau, Sc.D., Professor, Associate Chair of the Department
    of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health

    Richard Clapp, D.Sc., MPH, Professor, Boston University School of
    Public Health

    David Ozonoff, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair Emeritus of the
    Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of
    Public Health

    Daniel Wartenberg, Ph.D., Professor, Environmental and Occupational
    Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

    Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., Scholar in Residence, Ithaca College

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