Waterfall Environmental Science, Eighth Edition
Student Resources

Chapter 18: Principles of Toxicology and Risk Assessment

Are Current Procedures for Determining Carcinogens Valid?
In the Point/Counterpoint in Chapter 18, two scientists, Philip Abelson and Devra Davis, debate the validity of the way we test for cancer in the United States. In the text, I asked you to summarize their views and consider which view most closely relates to your view on the subject. To explore the issue further, we invite you to check out the web sites listed below. As you examine each site, be certain to identify who is providing the information and any hidden agendas they might have. The questions posed below will help you evaluate the web sites and clarify your own opinion. Spend a few minutes reviewing them before you start reading the information posted at these sites.Furthering the Exploration: To help you evaluate the Web sites and clarify your own opinion, write down your answers to the following questions. Taking an active part in this exercise will help you prepare for discussions in and out of your class.

1. What new facts, ideas, and viewpoints, if any, did these web sites provide for you? How did they further your understanding of this? Be specific.

2. Did your examination and analysis of the material affect your support of one of the two viewpoints presented in the text? If so, explain how and why.

3. After reading the material, can you think of an alternative position other than those taken by the authors? Explain it.

4. Do you think that the information provided by all organizations and individuals at the web sites you visited was reliable and unbiased? How much of the information was scientific? How much was each viewpoint based on ethics?

5. Much of the debate over determining the carcinogenic potential of chemicals in our food and environment centers on the Delaney Clause. What is it? What does it say? Will food safety increase or decrease, in your view?
PointCounterpoint
American Council on Science and Health
This link goes directly to a summary and large PDF file of the ACSH's booklet "Of Mice and Mandates Animal Experiments, Human Cancer Risk, and Regulatory Policies."
http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubID.153/pub_detail.asp
The National Toxicology Program
See for yourself how the studies are done. This link goes directly to the National Toxicology Program's report TR-393, "Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Sodium Fluoride." The report describes the procedure to test Fluoride using laboratory rats and ends with a conclusion of the probable carcinogenic risks for humans.
http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/index.cfm?objectid=0709411C-E355-A12E-DBB6666806CB8DB2

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