Friday, December 30, 2005

WSJ: 'Calrification' of A Chinese Study

We knew movie 'Erin Brockovich' was based on a true story, but we didn't know how the legal struggle was entangled with a key journal article (and its 'clarifications') published by a little known Chinese doctor, until now.

Chromium-6 is a metal produced in the manufacturing process such as stainless steel. In 1986, Dr. Zhang Jiandong published a study of people in five villages in north-eastern China drinking polluted well water who suffered higher cancer rate. His work was cited by US federal regulatory agencies as evidence of cancer-causing effects of Chromium-6.

Chemical company PG&E, the devil Julia Roberts fought with in the movie, hired a consulting firm to nullify the Dr. Zhang's paper. The firm used Dr. Zhang's name published a 1997 paper with opposite conclusion from the same data. The new paper were also broadly cited by federal regulatory agencies in assessing the safety of Chromium-6.

The consulting firm was ChemRisk, founded by Dennis Paustenbach, a Bush appointee on the advisory board of CDC. The firm received $7 million for this work.

See also: Chrom-plated Fraud

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