California in a Panic Again

It’s dry and dusty and the flakes of California with their matching t shirts are protesting.

http://www.latimes.com/science/la-me-winter-air-20140120,0,6110749.story#axzz2qyoKt5HV

Asthma is an allergic disease, not caused by air pollution unless the air pollution includes allergens.

Air pollution has declined while asthma has increased–think about that.

JunkScience.com proprietor Steve Milloy, MS Biostatistics Johns Hopkins, has done a study that shows ozone doesn’t cause health problems in So Cal.

http://junkscience.com/2013/09/03/study-ozone-not-linked-with-asthma-hospitalizations-in-major-california-hospital-system/

Milloy, and James Enstrom PhD MPH have both shown that small particle air pollution doesn’t have a health effect in California.

http://junkscience.com/2013/12/26/epa-air-pollution-scare-debunked-by-best-data-set-ever-assembled-on-particulate-matter-deaths/

Enstrom’s paper is about Particulate Air Pollution and Total Mortality Among …

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16282158

Bottom line–the matching t shirts are an indication of anxiety and concern.

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20 responses to “California in a Panic Again

  1. I recall that Enstrom was cashiered because he spoke the truth – yes? or different guy. The LA Times is just another cog in the radical left/envirowhacko propaganda machine and should not be taken seriously. Unfortunately many, many do. Too bad most are completely unaware of (very likely) or uninterested in either study. I’m a Californian and I’m afraid we’re going down to banana republic status due to ignorance, apathy, and leftist egalitarianism. Sigh!

  2. Outside emphatic winter seasons (which I guess never happen in LA), air pollution always contains allergens. For each kind of pollen in the air, it is possible to find people allergic to it. Some are allergic to many types of pollen at once, so it is not difficult to find somebody who can’t leave his home without a filter mask today or on any day.

    http://www.weather.com/health/pollen/forecast/USCA0638

    Ban all pollen!

    Then there are spores…

  3. I see that fine particulate causes 9200 pre-mature deaths a year. I’d bet that a very high percentage of people who die would believe their deaths are premature.

    Last time I was in a group all wearing the same tee shirts, it had something to do with running and singing songs about jumping out of perfectly good airplanes.

  4. Gee, Bob. You had tee shirts? All we had was our fatigues when we ran and if it was cold we got to wear our gloves. And, no, I was not airborne even though I was at Ft. Campbell.

    I have a friend who hadn’t been to the doctor or used his medical insurance until he retired. Once that happened he fell apart and is on multiple prescriptions for allergies and asthma. I always heard that you can develop an allergy overnight. I almost believe it watching him.

    • I can attest to the ability to develop an allergy overnight. Also, allergies can sort of go dormant for periods. I have had severe allergic reactions to medications that I took in the past and had no reaction to. There is no possible way to protect against allergies. They are specific to each person.

      California may have clearer air if they keep up with the insanity and people keep leaving the state. Maybe that’s the goal–drive out half the population. Of course, there will still be plenty of people left to tax and regulate.

  5. Nature (including human) can be controlled by flakes in T-shirts protesting. This seems to be the ultimate truth for the activist left. I’d call it comedy if not for the main stream success of the fraud thanks to activist academia and the press.

  6. Allergies are a symptom not a disease. The prevailing tendency to blame the allergen takes focus away from the actual problem. Troubleshooting 101: ask the right question. Either “what is happening that shouldn’t?” or “what isn’t happening that should?” In the case of allergies, the immune system is reacting to something that it shouldn’t. By definition the allergen is harmless. It is the defective immune system that is causing harm. So what makes more sense, banning or strictly controlling a harmless substance or treating and caring for the person with the defective immune system?

    Interesting note about asthma specifically. As recently as the 1950s it was considered psychosomatic by medical professionals. I believe it is a reasonable assumption that asthma cases seem to be on the rise due to increased capability and willingness to diagnose asthma and desire to seek treatment. According to the CDC “More than half (53%) of people with asthma had an asthma attack in 2008.” In other words nearly half of people with asthma didn’t have an attack for the whole year. I’d hazard a guess that 25 years ago a child wouldn’t be diagnosed with asthma after a single episode of difficulty breathing. I’m not necessarily saying these diagnoses are wrong. I’m just positing a different explanation for the alleged increase in cases. Of course it is hard to ignore how much money is made off of the diagnosis. Only the United States and New Zealand allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise directly to customers. I’m normally laissez faire about that sort of thing but there seems to be a strong correlation between diseases that are “on the rise” and advertising campaigns for a product claiming to treat that disease. Pharmaceuticals spend more than $30 billion a year on advertising, and that’s not counting the money “donated” to awareness campaigns and written off as a charity. Some companies spend more on advertising than they do on research and development.

    • GHo5T: I fully agree. I would never call allergies a disease, any more than dry eyes, chronic pain (of unidentified origin), or going to bathroom too much. Allergies are indeed a person responding to harmless substance that their immune system perceives as harmful. Removing the allergen protects the one person from the one substance. In reality, many people have multiple allergies, so to trying to ban something to protect people with allergies is nearly impossible. As I noted, I, as many with allergies, have suddenly reacted to substances that I had no problem with in the past. Allergies have a “threshold” for many people–a level at which symptoms appear. So one day, if a person with allergies has been around a cat, then gets around a blooming tree, they may react to the tree even if they usually don’t. The immune system is already revved up so when the tree comes along, the immune system continues to react even if normally the allergy to the tree was not evident or was not severe.

      You are right that medicine over diagnoses and certainly loves the word “disease”. I want to throw up every time I hear the stupid commercial about “dry eye disease”. What a stupid, stupid thing. There is no disease. But they hope people won’t realize that and will buy the eyedrops because they think they have a disease. It’s really bad. People need to be stop thinking that medicine knows everything, that everything is a disease and that a pill (or drops or whatever) is the answer to every little inconvenience in life.

      • For a great example, look up the history of lysterine and “halitossis”. The practice is nothing new.

        I certainly didn’t mean to imply that allergies aren’t a real problem for people that suffer from them. I merely wanted to point out the logistical problems with publicly controlling allergens rather than allergies. It may sound heartless, but if a child can actually die from being in the same room as a bag of peanuts, maybe that kid should be kept at home rather than banning peanuts from public schools and punishing any children that dare to show up with contraband JIF. There is some underlying disease or condition that is being neglected while so much attention is being given to managing the triggers.

        Also I think the term “allergy” has been watered down by inclusion of appropriate physiological response to irritants. Itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing aren’t an allergic reaction if there are high concentrations of pollen, dust, or spores. It’s the body’s natural defense against a legitimate irritant. I think lumping that together with legitimate allergies takes away from the perceived severity of the problem and consequently reduces interest in supporting research and development into effective treatments for the underlying immunological disorder. On the other side of the coin, the number of people diagnosed with allergies has skyrocketed due to the number of people seeking prescription medicine for plain old hay fever.

        It may sound heartless, but if a child can actually die from being in the same room as a bag of peanuts, maybe that kid should be kept at home rather than banning peanuts from public schools and punishing any children that dare to show up with contraband JIF.

        The overarching problem is a tendency towards snap diagnoses that require a lifetime of pills to treat symptoms without seeking out underlying causes. I’m not saying that solving that problem would be easy by any means, but I think the push towards controlling allergen exposure and taking pills that mask the symptoms prevents many from trying. My son was diagnosed with generic allergies and prescribed an adult dose of Claritin. When that stopped helping he was switched to Zyrtec. Long story short, we finally got to an ENT that wanted to take his tonsils and adenoids out. During the surgery the ENT discovered a massive polyp. He’s been problem free since. If I’d taken the GP’s advice I’d have cycled allergy medicines, obsessively kept the house spotless, gotten rid of the cat, and kept him inside breathing filtered air the rest of his life. Big fun for a 7 year old.

        I understand the concept of “think horses not zebra”, but you can’t assume horses and not check for zebras (that metaphor isn’t as eloquent as I’d like.) ANYWAY, I’m not saying that the typical course of action for allergies isn’t right for anyone, just that the number is overblown and may be hiding bigger problems.

        • I was typing while you were posting!

          I would agree with your statement on severe allergies and children in school. For one thing, with allergies that severe, it may be that something new will trigger an allergy attack. They do now send epi pens to school with kids, so perhaps that helps.

          I’m glad they found what was going on with your son. It’s definitely true that snap diagnoses are common. Before going with my having “allergies”, I was tested for many other things, had lab work, etc. In the end, the only answer was allergies and autoimmune disorders. Every so often, I go back and get checked for anything else that might be causing the problem, just in case.

          I would also note that “chemical sensitivities” are a common claim. Some people do react to perfumes, dyes, etc but in reality it’s more of a fear of chemicals. As Gene says, the reactions are real, but the cause is not the chemicals, but rather the fear of it. Also, one can react initially and then get used to things. Try staying away from perfumed laundry soap for a month or two and then go back. Often, you’ll be surprised how much the smell annoys you.

          • I jsut want to add, to acknowledge the complexity of the problem, that not all psychosomatic reactions are necessarily bad or useless. For example, when I have a wound that bleeds a lot, I start feeling dizzy as soon as I see it, and in a few really bad cases I felt I was ready to faint. I don’t get the same reaction when I see somebody else’s blood running. This tells me that this reaction is useful for something. Maybe we faint because our blood pressure goes down — a useful response when you’re bleeding.

            I get the sense that much of the recent development in allergies and other autoimmune disieases is the consequence of us having solved other pesky problems. The hygiene hypothesis, already quite credible in my view, has just received a bit of reinforcement:

            http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/better-hygiene-in-wealthy-nations-may-increase-alzheimers-risk

            Another bit of reinforcement is my own children. They have so far been allergy-free (they are now 24 and 27). It could be that their maternal genes are better than mine, but it could also be that we were laissez-faire parents. My children ate dirt, they swam in water of questionable quality and attempted to drown, they messed with all sorts of animals and they had helminths. Even now, they won’t think much about picking a piece of food they’ve dropped on the ground (neither would I). We left their scratches, cuts and even “tetanus-prone” wounds untreated. We did not iron or bleach their clothes. Maybe we are extremely lucky that they are still alive. Maybe, on the other hand, we were able to remain lax on hygiene and get away with it because other people around us were super-stringent about it. My overall sense is that it is hard to solve one problem without creating another.

            • I’ve always felt the same about obsessive cleanliness. We know for a fact that the immune system grows and developes in response to exposure. That’s why vaccines work. Most kids I’ve known had a semi-permanant runny nose. It may well be that exposure to dust and other allergens over time is required to develope immunity. I move around a lot and I only ever get hay fever when there’s pollen from some plant I’ve never been exposed to.

            • There is a bit of a difference between challenge-response immunity that wanes in the absence of exposure or never arises without it (like our resistance to flu), and the innate immunity that never goes away but instead gets out of hand when not occupied with its preferred target. Allergies are of the latter kind. They are said to be IgE-mediated and IgEs are know to have co-evolved with worms. So the lack of exposure to worms in civilised populations seems to be the strongest factor in the development of allergies.

              Here’s a somewhat unmoderated but easy-to-read overview:

              https://www.inkling.com/read/cellular-and-molecular-immunology-abbas-7th/chapter-19/the-protective-roles-of-ige

              I have a milde objection to their use of words like “eradication of parasites” (“management” may be more fitting in many cases), but the mechanism is explained correctly.

              More details: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3122143/
              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757907/

            • While I’m not a fan of over-sanitizing the world, I grew up during a time when eating dirt and stepping on nails was pretty common. My childhood home was not immaculate by any means. Which turned out to be a bad thing, since one of my allergies was dust mites. Out of four children, I was the only one with bad allergies. I also am a type 1 diabetic with two other autoimmune conditions. We all grew up in the same house. Overcleaning may contribute to allergies, but lax cleaning may not stop them from happening. It’s all very complex.

          • Personally, I can’t even walk past a bath and body works without choking, but I consider that a reaction to an irritant rather than an allergy. It’s not as though my throat swells completely shut and the reaction ends as soon as the irritant is removed. Some people can’t swim in a pool with chlorinated water, some people can. A part of the issue here is that the word allergy has been stretched too thin.

            I’ve gotten some pretty severe hives and dermagrafia in my lifetime that may be more accurately described as allergies, but extreme stress was also correlated. “Psychosomatic” is another abused term. I think being run down and over tense is a legitimate medical concern. Sometimes your body takes things into its own hands, so to speak, and shuts you down before you can do yourself more harm. Worry and fear are physical reactions in the body. My point about 1950s medicine is that asthma was wrongly considered purely psychosomatic and that there was no physical aspect. I think it’s safe to say that someone with asthma or another severe allergy could be so frightened of having a reaction that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Physical reactions to stress are well documented.

            My problem with my son’s misdiagnosis is that he wasn’t given any form of tests or differential diagnosis. He was diagnosed with allergies after a less than five minute interview and immediately prescribed a dosage of medicine normally not recommended for someone his size. Subsequent doctors would look at his history and discount her concerns as though she were an over-worried mother. They just assumed the first doctor had done his job. Diagnosis of exclusion is valid but often it seems like doctors skip the exclusion part. In the end we had to do an end-run around the system by getting him tested for sleep apnea.

            • Most definately true. I had a friend who broke out in hives every time she got really upset. It’s not uncommon. She at least knew what the trigger was and didn’t try to blame it something else.

    • It sounds a bit weird when you say “taking focus away from the actual problem”. The actual problem is in most cases inscrutable, so how can you focus on something you have no idea about? Finding out what the allergens are and managing them is oten a simpler problem.

      I found out within about three years from the onset of my allergies that the prevalent triggers were weed pollen and some foods (citrus fruit, grapes, red wine, melons and bananas). At the time, even the word “allergy” was not known, so initially it was a mistery and the symptoms were confused with those of common cold. Once our family doctor became sufficiently informed, he prescribed Clemastine for my allergy seasons (we had by then established that the seasons were short and well-defined). It worked great by made me drowsy, which I didn’t like any more than I like the original problem. Eventually, I figured that I could simply wear a simple gauze mask or any tissue that came to hand (like my shirt) to be completely rid of all symptoms (the only trick was to avoid touching the eyes). Not a big deal after all. The good news for young people with similar allergies: you may not get to keep them for long. I lost most of my sensitivity to pollen and food by the age of 35; my aunt had terrible asthma of unknown origin between about 30 and 50 years of age, and it disappeared as suddenly as it appeared.

      There certainly is a psychosomatic component to it. I remember I once watched a movie on the telly, in the dead of winter — well outside my allergy season — that showed a man and a woman running through a meadow and making love in tall grass. On seeing that, I got all the efects of being in that grassy meadow myself. My eyes and throat started itching, nose blocked up and I coldn’t help sneezing for an hour. I think the realisation that part of the problem was in my brain eventually helped me manage it. But in the meantime, wearing a mask was not a big deal.

      • I’m not saying solving medical mysteries isn’t hard, but there is a reason the immune system is acting up. Sometimes that reason would be evident if the doctors did some work past declaring “allergies” and prescribing pills. See my massively too-long post to Reality Check above.

        For those whose underlying condition cannot be discovered or corrected, treating and managing symptoms is the right thing to do. Some of us are just stuck on the wrong side of medical breakthroughs. I’m really just talking about massive public policy advocates spending their time and resources lobbying for the control of allergens rather than for medical research into treatment and cure of the cause. I’m generally against inconveniencing everyone for the sake of the 1 in 1000 with a problem. That doesn’t mean I don’t sympathize with the 1 in 1000, it means that I also sympathize with the other 999. I don’t mean to say that this mistake is being made by everyone. I was directing that critique at the individuals referenced in the original post that are protesting and lobbying to have other people pay to scrub allergens and irritants out of the air for them.

        • Yes, there are good and not-so-good doctors, and there are good and bad public policies. Doctors and policies tend to be bad when they exaggerate confidence. Also, lawyers are hard at work making sure our problems with doctors and policies never go away (cf. airlines and peanut allergies).

  7. Gene: I agree with you. Unfortunately, I am allergic to tons of stuff year-round. My hubby has some seasonal allergies (by some stroke of luck, maybe, he and I are not allergic to the same things so one of us can deal with what the other cannot). My allergies went away for maybe 15 years, then came back. You never know.
    You are very right-and very honest to mention it–that there is a psychosomatic component. After a very severe autoimmune reaction to a drug, I have become afraid of touching anything that might cause hives or any kind of allergic reaction. I have to argue with my brain that things are not all “bad” and are not going to trigger a reaction. I know empirically what to avoid, but the brain doesn’t always identify things “rationally”. I don’t want to touch anything outside of my house. I do, of course, because the danger isn’t real. Few people with allergies (that I have known) will admit that part of what is going on is just the brain improperly interpreting things. They think that means allergies are not “real” when it actually means you have some control over it.

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