More reasons to love the CDC, as if we needed them

urbantravels

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Stumbled upon this quite by accident in the WaPo...not related to ME/CFS, but an interesting angle on our favorite public health agency. Seriously, someone check me here: is the CDC just too hopelessly dysfunctional to be fixed?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/04/AR2010120403489.html

Drinking water debacle deals a blow to CDC and EPA

By Robert McCartney
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 4, 2010; 11:59 PM

When it comes to something as basic as ensuring that our drinking water doesn't poison our children, you'd think federal scientists and environmentalists would hustle to give the public the fullest and most reliable information as quickly as possible.

You'd also think the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency would go out of their way to publicize it when the government's own research finds that the risk posed by lead in the water nationwide is greater than previously described, and that one of the EPA's top recommended solutions is useless.

You'd be wrong.

Those are two important lessons to be drawn from Wednesday's release of a CDC report on the 2004 crisis of lead in the water in the District. In the official research paper, the nation's premier public health agency finally confirmed in full scientific detail that it completely bungled its initial work, which tried to minimize the risk in the water.

I'm glad that the CDC ended years of denial and stonewalling. But its credibility suffered considerably because it took so long and acted only under sustained pressure from safe-water advocates, the media and Congress.

"They were too quick to publish a flawed study and they were too slow to retract it, when they knew that others were relying on it," said Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), chairman of a House subcommittee that issued a blistering report in May of the CDC's handling of the issue.
 

urbantravels

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Oooh, oooh, wait, this is totally quotable too. Preach it, Brad Miller!

Miller, who heads the investigations and oversight subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee, said he suspected that the CDC took so long to issue its report partly because of the human instinct "to be slow to admit error." Miller also faulted a tendency in government agencies to want to reassure the public even when the facts warranted otherwise.

"There has been a tendency . . . to kind of pat people's hands and say everything's fine when there are real questions about whether the public health is being endangered by environmental exposures," Miller said. However, he added, government's proper role "is to tell people the Lord's own truth. And if that causes people to worry, then they should worry."