Dealing With Misinformed People in Higher Authority
On the other hand, I get incredibly frustrated when I run into a person of higher authority (and we're talking top-of-the-chain-in-a-government-funded-informational-institution-that-services-the-entire-country-of-Denmark kind of higher authority) that publicly presents – as fact – something I happen to know is
The ArticleI was recently made aware of an online article in a national Danish newspaper about 'which everyday chemicals are the most dangerous'. Among other things, the author of the article advised against using products containing – in particular – ethylparaben and methylparaben.
You mean the only 2 parabens that have been on the 'OK' list throughout the entire paraben controversy?
I guffawed (right out loud). Not only was this person so dead wrong it's not even funny, but – given their position – they should have known better.
The Initial CommunicationI wrote to the author and politely pointed out the misinformation including a couple of links to where more info could be found. I assumed this person was just not updated (hey, it happens. These guys have a lot of chemicals to keep track of, so it's entirely possible).
The ReplyI received a swift reply. It wasn't at all what I expected. This person was convinced they were right and I was wrong and informed me that there were even possible environmental hazards with one of these parabens.
That was news to me.
The NiggleI proceeded to recheck my facts as the doubt starting niggling at me. Perhaps I was wrong – perhaps I had misunderstood – perhaps there was something I had completely missed along the way. I had to know for sure. I had to ask an expert.
The Path to the Horses MouthThrough Personal Care Truth, I was put in contact with a preservatives expert and member of the European Scientific Community (SCCS) for answers to my questions.
In case you're wondering: The SCCS are the scientists that test and study different ingredients and chemicals for safety. They then inform the European governments of their results and make recommendations. Basically, it's their results the governments are using as guidelines.
I was thrilled to be directly in touch with someone so close to the horses mouth. Correction: this IS the horses mouth!
What He SaidI awaited his reply anxiously. When it came, I was elated. Everything I thought I knew as fact was confirmed, and the charges of possible environmental problems were 'complete nonsense'.
Shall we reiterate?
Facts About Ethylparaben and Methylparaben- Ethylparaben and methylparaben are not dangerous when dosed and used according to SCCS guidelines (and guess what – cosmetics manufacturers are doing just that).
- Neither of them are under suspicion of being endocrine disruptors
- Neither of them is a possible environmental hazard. (Quite the contrary – they break down into the environment quickly!)
I have this on good authority – the best authority. I have this straight from the horses mouth.
The Next Communication to the AuthorI sent the information to the author with links to articles written by the SCCS expert, halfway hoping for a 'well that was good to know! Thanks for the info, Lise – we'll get on that right away and be sure everyone in the department is updated so we aren't misinforming the public any more'.
That's not at all what happened.
What Did HappenWithin an hour, I received a terse answer. The author instructed me that "regardless of what this expert says, our position will remain unchanged". A few minutes after the first mail, I received an additional one with an afterthought: "this expert from the SCCS can't be taken seriously as his present job keeps him from taking a neutral standpoint. Furthermore, his articles (that I had sent links to) have no basis in science."
I'm sorry, girls, I really did try, but some folks just won't accept your innocence – regardless of facts, statements from a bonafide expert and member of the SCCS, and documentation to back it up.
|Ethyl and Methyl Paraben continue to lament|
Should I contact the author (again) and tell them they're wrong (again), should I let it go, or should I do something else entirely? The entire country of Denmark is getting their information on chemical safety from this organization, and this author is the person in charge.
So Tell Me What You Would Do With This Information!
Seriously – what would you do?