A story generated by the Urban News Service, the subsidiary of a right-wing “news” outlet, popped up today on the West Lake Landfill Facebook page. At first glance, the article seems to promote proponents who have been working for years to get the EPA Superfund site in Bridgeton, Mo. cleaned up. But the article is actually a cleverly cobbled together piece of propaganda that advocates the opposite.
The story quotes “Dr.” Jerry Cuttler an advisor to the New York-based American Council on Science and Health, who posits that chronic exposure to low-level radiation can actually have beneficial health effects. The scientific community as a whole thinks otherwise, and has long cautioned that there is no safe or permissible levels for radiation exposure. This widely accepted viewpoint is based in part on an awareness and understanding of the cumulative, long-range impact to radiation, which is a known human carcinogen. Chronic low-level radiation exposure is also known to cause auto-immune and reproductive disorders and is also tied to mutations that permanently alter the human genetic code.
Despite these distinct and dire possibilities, the Urban News Service story by correspondent Josh Peterson dismisses the known ill-health effects caused by radiation exposure by citing the opinion of an alleged expert, Jerry Cuttler.
“Low-level radiation ‘is generally a health benefit,’ said Dr. Jerry Cuttler, a scientist with more than 50 years of experience with nuclear radiation and an adviser to the New York-based American Council on Science and Health.
“’The natural radon level in an open area is very low,’ said Cuttler. ‘To find a harmful radon level, you would need to go into a uranium mine that has no forced ventilation.’”
The American Council on Science and Health has long-established history of supporting the petro-chemical industry by claiming that toxic substances are not dangerous to human health. The council defends fracking, BPA and pesticides. In 2012, Mother Jones magazine reported that the American Council on Science and Health has received funding or applied for support from corporations and foundations such as Chevron, the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, Bayer Cropscience, Procter and Gamble, agribusiness giant Syngenta, 3M, Monsanto, DowAgro, ExxonMobil Foundation, the Koch family-controlled Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Dow-linked Gerstacker Foundation, and others.
The American Media Institute, the parent company of the Urban News Service, claims to be stacked with former writers and editors for the Wall Street Journal and the Reader’s Digest. AMI was founded by Richard Miniter, a national security columnist for Forbes magazine. His brother Frank Miniter is the editor of the National Rifle Association’s magazine American Hunter. Miniter’s right-wing tilt began when he worked in 1989 as a summer intern for the Institute for Humane Studies, a right-wing think tank funded by the Scaife and Koch Foundations. Miniter also worked as an environmental analyst for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which opposes government involvement in efforts to curb global warming.