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Reblogged:PFAS: The Latest Moral Panic

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Over at RealClear Markets, David Clement of the Consumer Choice Center cautions against legislation in Congress purporting to regulate PFAS, a class of compounds with a variety of uses in industry.

He takes a recent rant by British talk show host John Oliver as his point of departure:
The issue with the "one size fits all" approach, advocated by Oliver and being pushed by Congress, is that this fails to appropriately address the hazards and risks presented by each of the 5000 chemicals that fall under the classification of PFAS. This is an important distinction, because the risk that PFAS presents for human health largely depends on how humans are exposed to these chemicals. [link omitted]
I oppose government regulation of industry and will note here that the dumping of C8 Clement cites would have been dealt with by better respect for and enforcement of property rights -- if not preempted altogether.

That said, we are likely decades away from any substantial or meaningful repeal of such regulations. Given that fact, I agree with Clement that whatever regulations there are should be as scientifically sound and well-considered as possible:
In a regulatory state, other people's panic can be hazardous to your health. (Image by Andrey Metelev, via Unsplash, license.)
For example, some of these chemical compounds are vital for contamination-resistant gowns and drapes, implantable medical devices, stent grafts, heart patches, sterile container filters, needle retrieval systems, tracheostomies, catheter guide wire for laparoscopy and inhaler canister coatings. To declare all these chemical compounds hazardous, without evaluating the risk associated with each use, puts lifesaving medical technologies in jeopardy and patient safety at risk. In fact, Congressman Larry Bucshon, who was a heart surgeon, criticized the PFAS Action Act for failing to include a revision that would exempt PFAS use in medical devices, stating that the bill in its current form would jeopardize access to life-saving drugs. [link omitted, bold added]
As with other bogeymen -- single-use plastics and fossil fuels immediately come to mind -- we have some small, ignorant, and vocal part of the population zeroing in on a real or imagined hazardous side-effect of a great innovation and -- apparently completely oblivious to any benefits that innovation might bring -- essentially trying to do away with it.

I am grateful to Clement for calling attention to this latest example.

-- CAV

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