One drop in 240 swimming pools is a worry?

Dr. Josh Bloom takes on the Environmental Working Group for trying to make a big deal out of a part per trillion and other pieces of pseudoscience.  From Science 2.0,  EWG’s Little Site Of Horrors

Dr. Bloom does a great job of taking on the EWG over there scare tactics on Tylenol in water at ppt levels, theobromine in chocolate and oxybenzone in sun screen.  Dr. Bloom does a great job at punching holes in the EWG’s latest scares.

Years ago when the chemical industry decided that it needed to communicate with the public we went through the equivalency exercises to explain really small quantities and really large quantities.  So you get the drop in 240 swimming pools, the number of cars taken off the road or the number of homes supplied with power equivalencies to numbers no one understands.  You also have the EPA using terms like “megagram” because it sounds a lot bigger than metric ton.  Propagandists like the EWG can get away with “it’s detected so it must be a problem” scares because, for all the effort to explain, people still don’t understand.

Found on


3 responses to “One drop in 240 swimming pools is a worry?

  1. I once (1990) directly measured the amount of helium-3 in the air. The result is 7.27 parts-per-trillion. Worldwide.
    In trying to describe the work to the public, I found people could not grasp the smallness of that number – until I told them “It’s like looking for your lunch money somewhere in the Federal Budget.”
    People sometimes understand numbers better if you attach them to money.

  2. 1 part per trillion in a swing pool is a hazard but 1 shark per every ten swimmers on a beach is not?

  3. Have they gone after Ben and Jerry’s over the dioxin in their ice cream yet?

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