Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CPSIA - A Malefactor Exits Stage Right

In the sad, pathetic CPSIA saga, several players have taken up their chips and moved on.  Some, like David Strickland, found other industries to prey upon and destroy (good job with Toyota!).  Others have just disappeared in the mist. I have not heralded the departure of Congressional staff who have played a role in ruining our businesses - they were just doing their jobs, if incompetently.

But now one of the true movers and shakers behind the CPSIA has chosen to find other things to do.  And I am speaking of the notorious Cindy Pelligrini of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Cindy's last day to create havoc at the AAP is June 3rd; after that, she takes her act over to the March of Dimes.  [What is the lead content in dimes anyhow?]  Cindy deserves special mention, right up there with the Queen Bee herself Rachel Weintraub, as responsible for the mess we all find ourselves in.

I have discussed Ms. Pelligrini in this space numerous in the past. 

-  Here is Cindy Pelligrini ghosting federal testimony and intercepting questions for its purported author, the estimable Dr. Dana Best.  Dr. Best is a real live doctor.  Ms. Pelligrini told me she holds a degree in political science. .  . . 

-  Here is Cindy Pelligrini arguing against risk assessment because it would be too BURDENSOME on the CPSC.  I practically weep over her compassion for the regulators!  She also is the one who promoted the notion of background "contamination" of lead at 40 ppm (as if the presence of a naturally-occurring element is contamination), lower than the lead content of the dirt in Mr. Obama's garden.  [Ibid.] 

-  Here's Cindy Pelligrini and the AAP misquoting or misstating the data from their own cited sources on lead poisoning.  I guess the truth is what you make of it. 

-  Here is Cindy Pelligrini admitting that she is using the CPSIA strictures to achieve a different end that has nothing to do with lead poisoning, namely the tacit ban of youth model ATVs.   Is manipulation and distortion less offensive if you brazenly admit it?

Wow, that's a hard act to follow!  The pressure's on Rachel now . . . .

As a fitting tribute to Ms. Pelligrini, I offer up quotes from scholarly articles cited in a May 11, 2011 lead scare email she authored with an AAP associate. Most of the citations were not provided with links, perhaps to make this exercise more difficult.  Sorry, Cindy, I cracked the code!  Here are a few nuggets:

a.   "Multivariable analysis indicated that residence in older housing, poverty, age, and being non-Hispanic black are still major risk factors for higher lead levels. . . . Risk of lead exposure by year housing built defined as follows . . . 1999–2004: low risk, built 1978 and later; medium risk, built between 1950 and 1977; high risk, built before 1950."  Jones RL, Homa DM, Meyer PA, Brody DJ, Caldwell KL, Pirkle JL, Brown MJ. Trends in Blood Lead Levels and Blood Lead Testing Among US Children Aged 1 to 5 Years, 1988–2004. Pediatrics, Mar 2009; 123: e376 - e385.  [Apparently, old homes come equipped with children's products with dangerously high lead content.  How could there be any other possible explanation for this data?!]

b.   "CDC is conducting several activities to focus efforts on preventing lead exposures to children. First, beginning in 2003, CDC required state and local health departments receiving funding for lead poisoning prevention activities to develop and implement strategic childhood lead poisoning elimination plans. Second, CDC and its federal partners, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency, launched new initiatives to control leadbased paint hazards in the highest risk housing, addressing where successive cases of lead poisoning have been identified. Third, CDC and other federal agencies are developing a systematic and coordinated response to identify and eliminate nonpaint sources of exposure (e.g., lead jewelry, food and traditional medicines, and cosmetics). . . . The most common high-dose sources of lead exposure for U. S. children are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated house dust and soil." Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention.  Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children.  A Statement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  August 2005.  [What, no reference to children's products?!  Does the CDC know what it's doing?  Come on, there's no safe level for lead . . . .]

c.  See my blogpost of May 11 for an analysis of this article. Self-selecting factors may explain the data on lead poisoning, not the hazard itself.  Hmmm.  Chen A, Dietrich KN, Ware JH, Radcliffe J, Rogan WJ. IQ and blood lead from 2 to 7 years of age: are the effects in older children the residual of high blood lead concentrations in 2-year-olds? Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113(5):597-601.

d.   "Lead can be found in high concentrations in three media to which children may be directly or indirectly exposed: paint, interior dust, and exterior soil or dust. This section discusses the distribution of lead in these media and their relationships to one another and to blood lead levels (BLLs) in children (Figure 2.1). Lead in tap water, generally a lower dose source of exposure, is also addressed." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children: Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.; 2002.  [Again, the CDC screws up - no apparent awareness of the plague of contaminated children's products.  So dopey, good thing we have the AAP and CFA to ensure that the 100 ppm lead standard is imposed on lead-in-substrate in children's products.  It's a mere detail that no one has EVER produced a single victim of lead poisoning linked to lead-in-substrate in any jurisdiction at any time anywhere in the world.]

e.  Article discussing the later consequences of lead poisoning. Does not discuss sources of lead poisoning. "Residual and unmeasured confounding are always of concern in observational studies where all possible covariates cannot be assessed and those available are not measured with equal precision. . . . The inclusion of neuropsychological variables examined in this sample such as measures of executive functioning, attention, and IQ may have amplified the predictive vigor of the models. . . . The possibility that early exposure to Pb may lead to a higher risk of antisocial behavior in later life through its effects on neuropsychological functions is interesting and will be the subject of future analyses of these data. Variables independently associated with measures of antisocial behavior included maternal intelligence and lower birth weight. The association with lower parental IQ was not unexpected and a few studies suggest that delinquency is related to medical complications at birth."  Dietrich KN, Ris MD, Succop PA, Berger OG, Bornschein RL. Early exposure to lead and juvenile delinquency. Neurotoxicol Teratol. Nov-Dec 2001;23(6):511-518 [Emphasis added] [In other words, lead might explain the social dysfunction of some kids. Then again, so might many other uncontrollable variables well-beyond the ability of this study to analyze or even detect. Clear as mud . . . .]

f. A classic "garbage in, garbage out" study, this article argues that a loss of an IQ point results in a corresponding loss of about 0.1 years of schooling. If, however, you note the conclusions or suspicions in the article referenced above in par. c above, you may conclude there may well be other factors at play, such as family income or poverty, age of housing, neighborhood setting, other family dynamics (such as educational background), and the basic intelligence of the kids affected by lead poisoning. Kids presenting as lead poisoned may be the least likely kids to be successful in school for other reasons separate from lead poisoning - in other words, lead poisoning might be a symptom of a larger problem, not the problem itself. The article does not sonsider this possibility. Salkever D. Updated Estimates of Earnings Benefits from Reduced Exposure of Children to Environmental Lead. Environmental Research, 70:1-6: 1995.

I could go on and on - Ms. Pelligrini and her associate provide bundles of citations all making similar points.

Ms. Pelligrini leaves behind a record replete with misleading conclusions and head fakes. In the process, she accomplished little for kids but managed to ruin many businesses, drive entrepreneurs into other markets, kill jobs and eliminate valued products that kids, families and schools needed and wanted. She had a willing accomplice in the Dems who employ populism to get reelected. Damn the science, we need to make kids safer . . . even if we have no idea what that means!

As I noted earlier this year, Walter Lippmann, founding editor of The New Republic and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom1964, once cited the components of wartime mythmaking as "the casual fact, the creative imagination, the will to believe, and out of these three elements, a counterfeit of reality." Counterfeit of reality, that's our Cindy. Cindy, we'll miss you!


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