One size doesn’t fit all

Too many government mandates hurt Pennsylvania businesses

Pennsylvania has garnered a great deal of media attention over the last two years concerning restaurant revoltselusive event gatherings, and parental protests. And with Pennsylvania ranking in as the 5th most populous state, distinct perspectives and positions are par for the course.

Indeed, PA business owners have not shied away from making their preferences and opinions known – and this is a good thing. Individuals and their interests are what have historically powered America’s economic advancements through decentralized decision-making, grassroots initiatives, and an entrepreneurial mindset.

In Warren Buffet’s 2021 annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, he made it clear that he banks on American ingenuity:

“Success stories abound throughout America. Since our country’s birth, individuals with an idea, ambition and often just a pittance of capital have succeeded beyond their dreams by creating something new or by improving the customer’s experience with something old.”

Buffet’s statement highlights two key factors for a successful marketplace – individual choice and an improved customer experience. And it is precisely these two aspects that put business owners on high alert when any new policy may impede either.

Yet, as the new year approaches, new policies are coming into play for some parts of PA.

Philadelphia will be rolling out a vaccine mandate on January 3 for indoor dining experiences. The mandate applies to places like bars, sport venues, and eateries but it doesn’t impact other places where eating may take place such as childcare settings, soup kitchens, and congregated care facilities. The mandate also applies to anyone over the age of 5, and this may prove problematic for those who booked a Philly getaway and are coming from a country where the vaccine has not yet been approved for children (the standard in Europe is for those over the age of 12).

Unlike Philly, Pittsburgh is leaving the vaccination verification up to business owners regarding whether they wish for customers to provide proof or not. For some restaurants, the requisite of requiring patrons to be vaccinated hasn’t hampered business – actually, in some instances, it has helped.

Essentially, Pittsburg is playing a waiting game to see how Philly fares and even what restaurants will require on their own accord. Pitt’s approach allows consumers to choose which retailers and restaurants they wish to frequent, while business owners can choose what policies they wish to enact. It is up to the customer and company to determine how much risk they are comfortable with, and really that is what it all comes down to – determining the hazard present and considering the tradeoffs involved.

When too much emphasis is placed on the hazard aspect, though, blanket bans are often applied from on high, which can sometimes have regrettable results.

David Clement, the North American Affairs Manager for the global think tank Consumer Choice Center, has identified several existing policies, as well as policies being proposed, where the trade-offs simply are not worth the application of risk-based regulations.

An easy analogy Clement uses to illustrate the matter is sun exposure. Although too much can be harmful to one’s health, it would be ill-advised to avoid sunlight altogether since there are beneficial elements derived from the sun’s rays.

With this in mind, one of the cases Clement notes within a policy report is the use glyphosates. Glyphosates are currently under scrutiny in Pennsylvania, but a blanket ban seems counterintuitive given the benefits derived from its use – such as ensuring farmers can have a successful harvest and keeping invasive species at bay. High yield crop productions allow for a greater supply to be brought to market, which then means consumers (and restaurateurs) have more healthy options at a lower cost.

Although traces of glyphosates are found in certain foods and beverages, it is important to keep in mind that traces won’t result in tragedies, and ample evidence attests to this fact.

Clement notes how the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment determined that “in order for glyphosate residues in beer to constitute a health risk, a consumer would need to drink 1,000 liters in one day.” One thousand liters equals 264.172 gallons, and despite Pennsylvania being a bulging hub for craft breweries, consumption to such a degree would be toxic regardless of the presence of glyphosates.

Just like with sunlight, it is the amount that matters – and it is also the individuals involved and the situation at hand. Indeed, some people can down a few more beers than others or partake in a full day of sunbathing without worry, and this is why mitigation efforts mustn’t be made by a centralized power player that is to a large extent separated from the day-to-day aspects of events or actions.

In the New Year, public officials would do well to remember dollar bills from consumers are more powerful in the mind of businesses than House bills from bureaucrats; and as in the words of Elon Musk, it may be best for government to simply “get out of the way” to allow for a 2022 business rebound in PA.

Originally published here

What To Do About PFAS? It’s Complicated.

In the ever-present effort to preserve our environment, the next frontier for regulators is per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). States across the country are narrowing their sights, specifically avoiding their prevalence in water sources. Federally, the PFAS Action Act has been passed in the house, declaring all PFAS hazardous, which could lead to a ban of the entire class of nearly 5,000 chemicals.

It seems obvious that limiting PFAS in water supplies is needed. We know, both from historical cases and recent research, that PFAS can pose a serious threat to human health if it is in the water we drink. It’s the proper role of the government to ensure that dumping is prevented and to punish those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.

But there is good news in this debate that most ignore. Despite alarmist headlines, PFAS has been largely phased out from being used where unnecessary. A  2018 Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry said that “industrial releases have been declining since companies began phasing out the production and use of several perfluoroalkyls in the early 2000s.” In addition, a CDC report shows that since 2000, “mean blood levels of two respective compounds have declined approximately 84 percent and mean blood levels of PFOA have declined about 70 percent,” and recent reports are showing that bodies of water contain only trace amounts of PFAS, and they have been steadily declining.

While that is great news, the conversation in regards to PFAS appears to be stuck in the early 2000s, when a class-action lawsuit against Dupont was launched for what ended up being an egregious case of chemical dumping. The health impact from this was widespread, and the company settled for over $670 million. Unfortunately, federal legislators are responding to headlines of yesteryear as opposed to taking a measured evidence-based approach.

Despite this, a blanket ban would be incredibly misguided because separate use cases for these chemicals present different risks for Americans. Some present no risk to humans, and in fact, provide great value. Take medical equipment for example. PFAS is used in the production of life-saving medical equipment and is vital for contamination-resistant gowns, implantable medical devices, heart patches, and more.

Embracing a “one size fits all” approach to PFAS without evaluating the risk associated with each use puts lifesaving medical technologies in jeopardy and patient safety at risk. That is the fundamental problem with potential bans, regardless of how these chemicals are used and irrespective of whether or not they present a risk to Americans. When produced in a responsible manner that avoids contaminating water sources, the use of PFAS for medical equipment is a net positive for Americans.

But it isn’t just the availability of medical equipment at risk if bans continue. These compounds are fundamental in the production process for smartphones, used by 290 million Americans every day. Forcibly removing these chemicals from the production process would disrupt supply chains, inflate costs for consumers, which is incredibly regressive, all while this use case of PFAS presents little risk to human health.

Unfortunately, this misguided approach is now creeping into the FDA and their Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). During their upcoming December meeting, the SAB plans on releasing the first round of testing data following the release of the National PFAS Testing Strategy in October 2021. The issue with this is that these test orders were issued far in advance of the Agency’s PFAS categorization framework which is essential to obtain data critical for informing the Agency about PFAS hazards, exposure, and risk.

Essentially the SAB is going to publish their findings, prior to the framework that will outline what appropriate thresholds are, and how regulations should be structured accordingly. As a result, the data that is expected to be presented will be presented without any instruction on what the exposure risks are, and will likely lead to a skewed result adding to the PFAS panic and calls for bans.

Luckily, some voices of reason have emerged in Congress, like Indiana Rep. Larry Buschon. As a heart surgeon by trade, he has rightfully pointed out that the heavy-handed approach would put life-saving medical technologies at risk. Hopefully, more will listen, and Congress can both limit PFAS exposure where it is dangerous while allowing for it to continue to be used where it is safe.

Originally published here

Editorial on COVID and PFAS chemicals needlessly alarmist

The Nov. 24 South Jersey Times editorial headlined “COVID and PFAS: A match not made in heaven” argues that exposure to PFAS, a class of man-made chemicals, potentially reduces the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and calls on New Jersey to further assess the risks associated with these chemicals.

While a clean-drinking-water approach to PFAS is appropriate, the debate is far more nuanced than represented in the editorial.

It is true that when dumped into water supplies or used beyond threshold amounts, PFAS do pose a considerable danger to our health and well-being. Some individual chemicals do require regulations or potentially bans, but that alone is not sufficient to justify a blanket ban, something now being attempted at the federal level.

PFAS are a group consisting of 4,500 to 6,000 chemicals. Because of their liquid resistance and surface tension lowering properties, PFAS are key to producing many consumer products and lifesaving medical equipment. PFAS products ensured the durability and reduced contamination from COVID-19 protective equipment, too.

The use of PFAS has dropped, thanks to self-regulation by manufacturers. The presence of PFAS in the bloodstreams of Americans has decreased, and industrial releases have declined as well.

Banning all of these chemicals will only shift PFAS production, most likely, to China. That said, we need a careful evaluation of PFAS. Demonizing these chemicals as a group doesn’t help anyone, and implying that they might reduce vaccine efficacy without evidence is a huge disservice to readers.

Originally published here

Produits chimiques synthétiques PFAS : ne les interdisons pas

Si certains produits chimiques PFAS méritent d’être examinés de plus près, voire interdits, d’autres ne sont pas seulement sans danger ; ils sont également essentiels à notre vie quotidienne.

La situation à l’usine 3M de Zwijndrecht en Belgique a ramené les produits chimiques PFAS dans l’actualité. Alors que les législateurs du monde entier s’intéressent de plus en plus à ces substances, nous devons nous rappeler que nous ne pouvons pas peindre une gamme de 5000produits chimiques avec un seul pinceau.

Ce qui s’est passé exactement à l’usine 3M de Zwijndrecht n’a pas encore été établi. L’entreprise fait actuellement appel de la décision du gouvernement d’arrêter la production à la suite de la découverte d’un nombre accru de PFAS (acide perfluorooctane sulfonique) – un sous-groupe de PFAS – dans le sang des habitants de la région. 3M affirme qu’elle coopère pleinement avec les organismes de réglementation, mais le gouvernement accuse le fabricant de produits chimiques de ne pas avoir fourni suffisamment de documents pour prouver qu’il n’a pas été négligent.

Pour les consommateurs, deux choses peuvent être vraies à la fois : d’une part, il est possible que 3M ait agi par imprudence, ce qui devrait être poursuivi dans toute la mesure de la loi. D’autre part, il est possible que les arrêts de production affectent les chaînes d’approvisionnement mondiales au moment où nous pouvons le moins nous le permettre.


En fait, de nombreux produits chimiques PFAS, qui sont parfaitement sûrs, sont utilisés pour tout fabriquer, des poêles en téflon aux smartphones – ou, plus important encore : des équipements médicaux.

Les PFAS regroupent un ensemble de 5000 produits chimiques aux caractéristiques variées. Si certains d’entre eux méritent d’être examinés de plus près, voire interdits, d’autres ne sont pas seulement sans danger ; ils sont également essentiels à notre vie quotidienne.

Nous devons comprendre la différence scientifique entre les évaluations fondées sur le danger et celles fondées sur le risque. Le danger est le potentiel de nuisance d’un produit, le risque est la probabilité qu’il le fasse. En simplifiant : un requin peut vous tuer, mais si vous ne vous exposez pas à ce risque en ne vous baignant pas dans la mer, il ne le fera certainement pas.

Les degrés de risque sont également définis par les degrés d’exposition. Il en va de même pour les produits chimiques que nous utilisons quotidiennement.


Une interdiction totale des PFAS, comme le soutient actuellement la Belgique au niveau européen, va à l’encontre de l’élaboration de politiques fondées sur des preuves. Pour dire les choses simplement, classer tous les PFAS comme dangereux revient à interdire l’utilisation du mercure dans les thermomètres parce qu’il est nocif lorsqu’il est ingéré ou à interdire l’utilisation du chlore dans les piscines parce qu’il est nocif si on le mange.

Une réponse plus appropriée consisterait à évaluer ces produits chimiques en fonction du risque qu’ils présentent et de la manière dont ils sont utilisés, plutôt que de les mettre tous dans le même sac en les interdisant de manière autoritaire.

L’objectif de l’action politique devrait toujours être d’être précise et nuancée, en tenant compte des conséquences involontaires des décisions de précaution.

Il n’y a rien d’intrinsèquement mauvais dans l’intention de vouloir protéger les consommateurs. Toutefois, ces règles sans discernement leur seraient nuisibles en entraînant une hausse des prix et une moindre disponibilité des produits nécessitant des substances chimiques PFAS.

Originally published here

Chemical bothers – how Britain can get better at regulating synthetic substances

If there’s one area where Britain can benefit from better post-Brexit regulation, it’s pulling ourselves away from blanket bans on chemicals that are critical to making the modern world cleaner, cheaper and faster.

PFAS, or Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of over 4,700 individual chemicals, each with specific purposes, that are fundamental to our technologically advanced civilisation. In the medical sector, PFAS are crucial to catheter tubes, stent grafts (used to repair heart damage and heart attacks), and in the anti-viral robes that medical professionals use. Meanwhile, in the fight against climate change, PFAS have been of great importance to sustainability entrepreneurs. Without PFAS, lithium-ion batteries (the key ingredient in electric cars) would be uneconomical and impractical. The gold in catalytic converters, which efficiently catalyses diesel and petrol pollution, is extracted with PFAS products for higher yields, making a reduction in pollution much more effective. Whether it’s heart-stents, fire-protection equipment or fibre-optic cables, PFAS are instrumental in the production of many consumer products. 

These chemicals are not, however, without controversy. Multiple, multi-million-dollar lawsuits have resulted from these hardy and resistant substances infecting the environment and entering our bodies. PFAS, when present in water, food, or livestock, can pose a devastating threat to life and health.

However, that does not mean there should be a cross-substance ban on all PFAS, as is being called for by some activists. After all, there are dozens of technologies and processes which have been proven to effectively treat PFAS contamination before it poses a real threat to the environment or human health. 

It’s a question that’s particularly relevant to the UK at the moment. In March of this year, the Government launched their flagship chemicals regulatory regime; UK Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, & restriction of CHemicals (UK REACH), which has committed to investigating whether a ban for all PFAS substances is suitable. Rebecca Pow, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department of Food, Rural Affairs, and Agriculture has indicated she supports treating all PFAS as a group, rather than on a case-by-case basis. This is a mistake. Chemical regulation is a matter of risk management and mitigation – something that, in our increasingly centralised and planned economy, does not seem to wash with Whitehall.

Activist groups, like Fidra, call for a total ban on PFAS. Would this solve the pollution problem? Not necessarily. Canada, for example, does not produce any PFAS at all, but that just means it relies on imports when it needs these vital chemicals. 

The EU has been keen to promote the removal of PFAS through a movement towards zero-pollutant materials. Whilst an honourable initiative, banning PFAS altogether would be the wrong move.

Instead, by encouraging manufacturers to innovate through tax-free R&D research and other smart incentives, Britain can lead the way in protecting our superior technological products and making the environment safer for us all. Brexit allows for greater diligence in our regulatory sphere, providing us with the opportunity to pursue sensible, risk-conscious regulations.

A ban on PFAS would be a set-back not jut in the fight against Covid, but also climate change and so many other areas of human progress. Indeed, it would be no less than an act of national self-harm – it must not be allowed to happen.

Originally published here

Why ‘hazard based’ agricultural chemical regulation doesn’t work

In many ways, various governments have passed regulations with a “one size fits all” mentality. More often than not, however, this approach wrongly limits consumer choice, and more importantly creates tremendous externalities which are often left unaddressed. Our goal is to highlight instances where the “one size fits all” approach has failed consumers and explain why.

Concern over glyphosate in food has become a major topic the last couple of years and has gained a lot of media attention in a recent study where they found that organic beers and wines contained small traces of glyphosate – a pre-harvest herbicide and harvest aid used on cereal crops like wheat, oats and vegetable seed oils like canola and sunflower. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safety limit for glyphosate is 100 times greater than the amounts found in the beer and wine samples, and thus, the risk of human contamination is extremely low.Nevertheless, policymakers want to ban glyphosate which would reduce crop yields and make beer and wine even more expensive.

You probably heard about the “Beepocalypse” – the catastrophic scenario in which declining honeybee population is caused by pesticides. However, honeybees aren’t actually declining but increasing. Occasional reductions in honeybee populations are multifactorial, but varrora mites and the viruses they carry are likely the leading drivers, nutrition being another big factor. According to a USDA bee researcher: “If there’s a top ten list of what’s killing honey bee colonies, I’d put pesticides at number 11″. By creating a “one size fits all” regulation and thus banning pesticides, policymakers could make the mite problem worse which would actually harm honey bee colonies instead of protecting them.

Read more here

What Tommy Boy Teaches Us About Entrepreneurship and the Regulatory State

The go-get-em attitude seen in ‘Tommy Boy’ is just one of the key ingredients to entrepreneurial success.

Regulations attempt to manage and control complex systems according to what has been deemed as appropriate behavior – and therein lies the problem. Complex systems are complex and what is “appropriate” is subjective and tends to be situationally dependent.

For regulatory bodies that are on the outside looking in, data can be misleading and algorithms can be misconstrued, and this was depicted in a recently released policy report by the Consumer Choice Center. Regardless of whether they concern talcum-based baby powder or crop-protecting pesticides, the report explains how blanket bans and one-size fits all approaches overlook the idiosyncrasies present within industries and the long-term implications of imposed restrictions.

Read the full article here

New Report From The Consumer Choice Center: The Folly Of One Size Fits All Regulations

The Consumer Choice Center just published a new report explaining the difference between hazard and risk and examines how a hazard based regulatory approach to four areas of manufacturing will result in fewer choices for consumers, lower quality products, and higher prices. 

Do you know the difference between risk and hazard? You should! And so should lawmakers.

Read the full article here

Not all PFAS are the same, and why this matters for future regulation

On 17 October, a stakeholder consultation led by the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway on the use of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) closed. By 2022, the European Chemicals Agency is expected to submit its restriction proposal for the use of PFAS in firefighting foams and other products. Combined with pressure from green groups calling for complete avoidance of these chemicals, the European Union is on the brink of a very costly and unfeasible policy move: a complete PFAS ban.

PFAS are man-made chemicals that can be found in a variety of consumer products. Some popular uses include medical equipment, food packaging, and firefighting foam. In the case of medical equipment, for example, these chemical compounds are vital for contamination-resistant gowns and drapes, implantable medical devices, stent grafts, heart patches, sterile container filters, needle retrieval systems, tracheostomies, catheter guide wire for laparoscopy, and inhaler canister coatings.

However, that is not to say that all of these chemicals are safe. When improperly dumped into the water supply, or when the exposure exceeds specific threshold levels, they do pose a danger. These concerns are justified and shouldn’t be understated or misrepresented. At the same time, they shouldn’t direct our attention away from the benefits of PFAS in certain production processes.

Because of their chemical resistance and surface tension lowering properties, PFAS are hard and expensive to replace. A complete ban would put the production of these vital consumer items in jeopardy and patient safety at risk. Declaring all PFAS hazardous without first considering risks associated with each use, and considering the feasibility and safety of alternatives, is a dangerous policy path.

In the United States, calls for a complete ban are also dominating the discourse. The PFAS Action Act, which is currently under review in the Senate, fails to consider that all these chemicals carry different risks depending on their use and exposure levels. The European Union’s approach aims to achieve similar outcomes. The idea is to divide PFAS into two groups: essential and non-essential. However, eventually, all are sought to be phased out.

Both strategies turn a blind eye to the uncomfortable evidence-based truth about these chemicals. PFAS have already been largely phased out from being used where they are not necessary. A  2018 Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry  says that “Industrial releases have been declining since companies began phasing out the production and use of several perfluoroalkyls in the early 2000s.”

A complete ban on PFAS being used also doesn’t necessarily mean that these man-made chemicals will cease to be produced or sold. The unintended consequence of extremely restrictive policies is a spike in production elsewhere. Bans in the EU and US will likely result in China ramping up their production. And given how necessary PFAS can be for both medical equipment, and consumer goods, an EU or US ban would be simply shifting production to countries who largely fail to meet general standards for environmental stewardship.

It is crucial that while assessing PFAS, policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic do not fall prey to calls for complete avoidance. PFAS are diverse and while some of them might need to be restricted or banned, others are crucial and necessary, as in the case of medical equipment. One size doesn’t fit all, and the necessary uses of PFAS, especially when they don’t pose a risk to human health, shouldn’t be left out of the discourse.

Originally published here

David Clement On Big Talker discussing “One Size Fits All” regulations

Our North America Affairs Manager David Clement was a guest on Mornings With Joe Catanacci on the BigTalker 106.7FM discussing our “One Size Fits All” Doesn’t Fit At All campaign.

Check out “One size fits all” Doesn’t fit at all policy note

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