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November 28, 2021

Sensational reporting on perchlorate causes unnecessary worry and portrays Olin in bad light

Dear Editor:
Do figures lie, or liars figure?
Dear Editor:

Do figures lie, or liars figure?

The front-page sensational sub headline on perchlorates (Aug. 15, 2003) continues the impression of a catastrophic health problem in the local area. I have yet to see someone put the numbers into perspective so they can relate to what we drink.

I first checked the calculation that said .0068mg/Kg of body weight was enough to cause a problem. I had to assume that number was correct so I could start calculating. First off if you calculate the total mg for a person of 150 lbs., it is 0.46 mg not 2.25 as reported. 150 lbs. is 68 Kg which multiplied times the .0068mg gives a total of .46mg. This is only 20 percent of the 2.25 mg reported. The next step is to determine how much water do you have to drink to ingest the amount of perchlorate. Divide .00046 gm by the 6 ppb high level reported in the water times 1 billion and then divide by 3785 grams per gallon. Voila, we find that you have to drink 20 gallons and one quart of water to ingest only .46 mg of perchlorate at 6 ppb.

If the 2.25 mg were correct you would have to drink over 100 gallons. As perchlorate is excreted from the body it might not even be possible to get a dose large enough to cause thyroid problems at that level in the water. If I were concerned about what is in my drinking water (and I am) I would (and have) install a water treatment at my sink that removes most everything except the water.

I don’t trust bottled water either. The last line of defense is my sink. Distillation or reverse osmosis with carbon filters both work to remove virtually all contaminants. R. O. is available for as little as $150 plus tax if you do it yourself.

I would expect of have heard of an epidemic of thyroid or other problems among the local people who worked at the Olin plant if perchlorates were such a terror.

Unfortunately reporters these days mostly report what someone else supplies them without checking the veracity of the information. Misinformation proliferates and sensational headlines bring fear to readers and newspaper sales to publishers. Printing “poisoned water” headlines is in my mind the same as shouting “fire” in a theater. I feel the jaded reporting that has attempted to paint Olin as virtual terrorists that are out to kill the populace and don’t care about anything except profits is more sensationalist misleading journalism.

From the efforts they have made to alleviate a situation that has surfaced due to new technology allowing testing at lower levels than ever before, I believe they are good corporate citizens. Our society owes Olin a lot of gratitude for the products they produce to improve our lifestyle. Try to get a little more realistic on the reporting guys.

These calculations should be possible by a graduate of a reasonably proficient high school. If you didn’t learn how in high school, did the school victimize you, or was it your fault?

Jack Herren, Gilroy

Submitted Saturday, Aug.16

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