Monday, March 4, 2024

Junk Science

 A group that calls themselves The Environmental Working Group recently made a splash in the popular press implying that oatmeal will turn your children into androgenous larvae with gills and horns.

They collected 14 samples of food from grocery shelves and sent them to a lab in California to be analyzed for a pesticide called "chlormequat".



"Eleven products contained chlormequat levels higher than the amount we think is safe for children’s health, and one sample contained exactly that amount. 

This level – EWG’s health benchmark – is 30 parts per billion, or ppb..."

Here is a portion of a graphic they published with their article

The bottom line in my snip reads "Limits of detection/limit of quantification for chlormequat: 10/100"

Let's separate that statement. Samples with levels below 100 PPB cannot have their levels quantified because of the limits of the analytical technology employed by the lab. The majority of the samples were reported as having levels below 100 PPB so we do not know if they were 11 PPB or 99 PPB.

Another chunk-of-junk is that they propose a standard, a standard that they pull out of their rearmost orifice, of 30 PPB which is less than 1/3 of what can be quantified.

Panic mongering, junk-science.


  1. Follow the $cience

  2. Meanwhile, The FDA approved the use of Roundup (Glyphosate) on crops back in 1973... Neither the DA nor the DOA have monitored its use or effect on humans since... Use of the stuff has been BANNED in most of Europe because it's a "probable carcinogen..."

  3. how is something determined to be a carcinogen? the Ames test? HERP index? feeding rats 10000x the lifetime consumption til they get cancer? dont be a sucker. who can believe anything anymore.

  4. The increased sensitivity of analytical testing machines is getting to be a curse. 30 years ago, this would all be "non-detect."

  5. Ah yes, 'goals' vs testing realities... again...still...

  6. Climate denier?

    How dare you!

    $$$ turtles all the way down $$$

  7. "Limit of Detection" versus "Limit of Quantitation" (LOD versus LOQ). For validated analytical methods you are required to have both, but LOQ is the one that matters.

    In theory, one would need to understand the detection technology (For example Total Organic Carbon equipment used to verify the cleanliness of equipment for Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing can have an LOD of 10 ppb but an LLQ of 21 ppb), the calibration curve, and the data indicating permissible levels of the chemical.

  8. I had read that and was worried. Thanks for being better at checking the 'science' than I am. I think I was going with the 'why believe liars' approach.

    1. But couldn't we add 200 parts per billion to the test sample and then measure within our detection range and find out if it is 209 or 299 pob?

  9. My last job before the bliss of retirement was at a company that made air monitors that could detect benzene at sub ppt. We used 2x signal to noise for detection and 10X signal to noise for quantification.
    What was equally important was what else was in the sample matrix. Even though we used a GC column it was important to know what might coelute at the retention time as benzene,.
    We actually had more problems getting someone to make standards that were less than +/- 30 % at low ppb levels.


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