Friday, December 21, 2007

Fantasy Lead on Lehrer's News Hour

The Newshour did a piece on lead in toys last night. The opening was alright, they actually reported a real live number, the lead limit is 600 parts per million. Then they showed a fancy non contact lead-detector instrument with a pistol grip looking for all the world like a refugee blaster from a science fiction flick. This technological marvel was pointed at a few suspect toys, who promptly put their hands up, and registered 500 parts per million, comfortably below the limit.
This provoked a tirade from the anti lead lady on the show. She felt it was horrible that the toy contained any lead at all, rather than virtuous that the toy met written standards. Then she moved deeper into fantasy, telling us that lead was removed from gasoline to reduce the lead in the environment, AND, the decrease in the US crime rate since the 1970's was due to less lead getting into children and turning them to crime.
Wow. Three whoppers for the price of one. Manufacturers whose product meet standards are to be praised for their diligence. Tetra ethyl lead was removed from motor gasoline to preserve the life of catalytic converters, not people. Lead poisons the catalyst, and the converter stops converting. There is zero evidence that lead causes criminal behavior.
That this much fantasy was aired on a respectable TV news show is evidence of how ignorant the newsies really are.

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