Unreliable scientific findings, referred to as tainted science, are creating profits for certain interest groups and serious health risks for millions of individuals.
The Dangers of Tainted Science
In the United States, 75 percent of scientific research is funded by special interest groups. Many of these groups have a special agenda to develop pharmaceuticals and establish that exposure to certain toxins or pollutants only causes minimal harm. When these special interest groups have financial conflicts of interest, their scientific findings are often flawed and unreliable.
When conclusions of scientific research are tainted by special interests, people face increased risks of harm from carcinogens, chemical toxins, pesticides, ionizing radiation, and hazardous waste disposal. Millions of individuals and workers are exposed to toxins and pollutants each year. When people accept information that comes from tainted science, they often underestimate the dangers of hazardous substances. This often increases exposure to toxins and pollutants that lead to life-threatening illnesses, diseases, and death.
Special interest groups often use tainted science to justify the use of unsafe products that generate big profits. Flawed scientific findings used in biology and toxicology can result in life-and-death differences for human beings. Inaccurate reports on product safety and environmental pollution control create dangers to public safety. Over the last 30 years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only assessed the health risks of 570 chemicals, while there are more than 80,000 chemicals available for commercial use. Without scientific assessments, new EPA regulations cannot be enacted.
Congress and certain industries have criticized the EPA’s chemical assessment process, prompting the agency to review and re-examine many toxic chemicals and the exposure to lead, arsenic, asbestos, formaldehyde, hexavalent chromium, and others. In many cases, when the EPA determines that a chemical poses a greater public health risk than previously determined, industries employ scientists to argue those findings. Industries often argue that toxic chemicals are generally safe at currently allowable levels. As a result, the EPA’s chemical research office has become a target for tainted science.
Since 2004, budgets for U.S. research grants through the National Institutes of Health have been reduced by 14 percent. With dwindling budgets and limited funds for academic studies, tainted science has flourished. Companies with special interests and focus on large profits have strong financial incentives to publish inaccurate scientific findings that favor their industries, even if it increases the risks of illness, injury, and death for millions of Americans.