Friday, 13 Jan 95 Washington, DC
1. FROM THE CRADA TO THE GRAVE: CAN DOE MANAGE THE
This time it's the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of
Congress, pointing out that DOE has failed to define clear missions for
the labs, and there is no coordination between them in addressing
cross-cutting issues. The same conclusion has been reached in one
review after another since 1983. The draft report charges that DOE has
not acted on these recommendations, raising
"questions about DOE's capability to lead the national labs into the
future." The report of the Galvin panel on the future of the labs, which is
to be released next month, is also rumored to come down hard on DOE
management. With Congress lusting to kill a cabinet-level department,
DOE needs this like Malibu needs rain.
2. SENATOR JOHNSTON ANNOUNCES HE WILL NOT SEEK REELECTION
"His power," the Washington Post said, "probably exceeded that
of the secretaries of energy who came and went during his tenure." J.
Bennett Johnston (D-LA) was chair of both the authorizing and
appropriating committees dealing with energy. Initially opposed to the
Supercollider, Johnston became a staunch defender after it was decided
to manufacture the magnets in Louisiana (27 Apr 90).
3. EMF UPDATE: LATEST EMF STUDY DISCOVERS WE NEED ANOTHER
You may recall that a year ago a study of Canadian/French
utility workers found no association between exposure to magnetic
fields and brain cancer, but it did find a slightly elevated risk of one rare
form of leukemia (WN 1 Apr 94). Recommendation? Do an even larger
study! Well, the results are in. A study of male utility workers across the
U.S. found no association with leukemia, but a slightly elevated risk of a
rare form of brain cancer. Hmmm!
Recommendation? Do an even larger study! How is it, you may be
wondering, that the uncertainty is always just enough to require more
research? It's easy, and this is how it's done: First, you don't compare
utility workers with the rest of the population; if you did you would find
their cancer mortality to be lower, 86% in the new study. Instead,
compare workers with "low" exposures to those with "high" exposures.
But where should you draw the line between low and high? Simple,
adjust the boundary to maximize mortality in the high category. This
works best on rare forms of cancer where statistics are poor. Then
apply for another grant.
4. RADON UPDATE: STUDY SUGGESTS YOU CAN BREATH A LITTLE
My neighbors leave their bedroom windows wide open all
winter to dissipate radon that might be seeping up from the basement.
But a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found no
association between residential radon levels and lung cancer. The
nation's $16B-per-year radon abatement effort is based on linear
extrapolation from the massive exposure of uranium miners. New
understanding of DNA repair, however, calls for reexamination of the
linear model on which many environmental programs are based.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's
and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)