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That study didn't deny that the polluted area had a higher rate of cancer deaths. But it said factors other than chromium were the likely cause. This was a statement that Dr. Zhang, now dead, had explicitly disputed in a letter to the consultants (his employers). Yet he and a Chinese colleague appeared, to anyone reading the report, to be its sole authors. The litigation consultants didn't disclose their role to the journal that published it.
A giant smelter was spilling large amounts of chromium waste into the groundwater. Well water was turning yellow. People were developing mouth sores, nausea and diarrhea. Dr. Zhang spent the next two decades treating and studying the residents of five villages with chromium- polluted water.
In 1987, he published a study saying they were dying of cancer at higher rates than people nearby. He earned a national award in China for his research. In America, federal scientists translated it into English, and regulatory agencies began citing it as evidence that a form of the metal called chromium-6 might cause cancer if ingested.
Then in 1997, Dr. Zhang, in retirement, appeared to retract his life's work. A "clarification and further analysis" published under his name in a U.S. medical journal said there was no cancer link to chromium in the villages after all. This new conclusion, like the earlier one, soon found its way into U.S. regulatory assessments, as evidence that ingested chromium wasn't really a cancer risk.
Full Free Text: Study Tied Pollutant to Cancer: then Consultants Got Hold of It
ChemRisk's founder and CEO, Dennis Paustenbach, is a Bush Administration appointee to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control advisory panel on toxic chemicals and environmental health. His firm holds a lucrative contract with the CDC and the Energy Department to investigate radioactive and toxic releases from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
In this case, ChemRisk was working for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), a San Francisco-based utility whose dumping of the industrial chemical chromium-6 had contaminated the drinking water of the small town of Hinkley, Calif. Hinkley residents' lawsuit against the company, which PG&E eventually paid $333 million to settle, was the basis for the film "Erin Brockovich," starring Julia Roberts as the legal investigator who uncovered the dumping.
PG&E hired ChemRisk to conduct a study to counter Hinkley residents' claims of cancer and other illnesses from chromium-6 in their water. ChemRisk tracked down Zhang, a retired Chinese government health officer, and paid him about $2,000 for his original data. ChemRisk distorted the data to hide the chromium-cancer link, then wrote, prepared and submitted their "clarification'" to JOEM under Zhang and Li's byline, and over Zhang's written objection.
An environmental watchdog group is requesting censure of a toxicologist for his role in a recently retracted paper, which disputed a link between toxic chromium and cancer. The scientist, according to the Environmental Working Group, helped to conceal corporate funding for the paper, and then used the study's conclusions to argue against stricter chromium water standards.
In an Email letter sent to the president of the Society of Toxicology (SOT), the EWG said that society member Dennis Paustenbach, CEO of San Francisco-based consulting firm ChemRisk, violated the Society's Code of Ethics.
Chromium paper retracted unfairly, says co-author
Six months after the retraction of a controversial paper denying a link between chromium-6 exposure and cancer incidence, the paper's co-author is stepping forward to say that it was withdrawn unfairly.
According to Renee Sharp, an analyst at EWG, it was a surprise to learn that Li is contesting the paper's retraction. "If she was so upset about what they decided to do, why did she wait six months to do anything about it?" Sharp asked. ChemRisk scientists likely "twisted her arm into doing something," Sharp told The Scientist.
Wall Street Journal Accused of Wrongdoing on Erin Brockovich Story Credited as Key to $295 Million Settlement, Says Scientist Dr. Shukun Li
Dr. Shukun Li, a respected Chinese public health scientist, today demanded that the Wall Street Journal retract a front-page story that claimed a 1997 scientific study she co-authored was ghostwritten and the product of scientific fraud. Plaintiffs' attorneys cited the Wall Street Journal story as instrumental in Pacific Gas & Electric's decision to settle a California lawsuit known as "Erin Brockovich II" for $295 million in February, 2006.
In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Li stated her character and professional reputation, as well as the legacy of her late colleague and 1997 study co-author Dr. JianDong Zhang, had been damaged as a result of the story, "Study Tied Pollutant to Cancer: then Consultants Got Hold of It", published December 23, 2005.
"The Wall Street Journal claim that the 1997 study was conceived and written by the American scientific consultants is completely false," said Dr. Li. "To the contrary, the American scientific consultants functioned as peer reviewers and helped Dr. Zhang and I get the new article published in an American scientific journal. They also took Dr. Zhang's work and translated it into English at Dr. Zhang's request. Dr. Zhang approved every word of the article that was submitted to the JOEM."
2003: I have a citation, written in Chinese, that translates, ..."Application of using mixed concrete wall for controlling chromium pollution." ...The article is cited in an article in PubMed, PMID 3443034 (which is also in Chinese): Chromium pollution of soil and water in Jinzhou, Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi 21(5):262-4 1987. ...The above article was quoted in some court hearings (remember Erin Brockovich?), and apparently, an article that was allegedly written by the same authors as an "update" (which showed little effects of chromium) may be a fabrication actually written by others.
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