December 8, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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Nothing was revealed about 9 out of 10 studies showing health harm from PFAS

Nothing was revealed about 9 out of 10 studies showing health harm from PFAS

You can publish a study in a journal without doing anything else. But if you want a little attention for your important discovery — also from other scientists — a press release is necessary. This does not appear to occur in most studies of PFAS.

Much has been written recently about increased PFAS concentrations in the environment. For example, in the Netherlands it is not recommended to eat a lot of fish from the western Scheldt because of the large amount of per- and polyfluoroalkyl in the water. Always, it is stated that it is not clear exactly how harmful PFAS is to health. Now it turns out that much more is known about this than many media outlets think.

low impact
A new study shows that up to 92 percent of studies demonstrating that PFAS cause health harm appear without a press release. As a result, they receive little or no media attention. And studies that don’t get much media attention are often cited by other scientists.

said Rebecca Foucault, principal investigator, director of science communication at Green Science Policy Institute. New studies have found a strong link between chemicals forever Serious health problems such as premature birth and cancer remain under the radar. Research found tucked away in scientific journals has only a limited scope and therefore little impact.”

Decisive press release
Researchers Analyze it 273 studies on the impact of PFAS on health, published between 2018 and 2020. Among the PFAS studies that found a statistically significant association with health harm, those with a press release received twenty times more media attention than those without a press release. But here’s the thing: Only 8 percent of studies featured a press release.

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For example, papers published without a press release found associations between exposure to PFAS and premature birth, ovarian and breast cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes. These studies have rarely appeared in the press or on social media.

Not the media’s fault
While the study focused on PFAS research, the researchers believe it applies to other topics as well. One reason researchers often don’t release a press release is because they think it won’t benefit their careers, but this is a misconception. Because this new meta-analysis shows that studies without a press release are also cited much less frequently by fellow scientists.
What also holds scientists back is that they fear the media will get carried away with their research, causing errors in articles or an exaggerated study. But they are wrong there too.

Previous research has already shown that exaggerated claims that sometimes appear in the media can usually be traced back to the university’s press release which is greatly exaggerated. Why scientists are more involved in the press release and making sure what it says is true. Other factors that play a lesser role are a lack of time and skills or a certain vision of the role of scientists in society.

Scientific assignment
Researcher Linda Birnbaum says: Duke University. “As scientists, we have information that can lead to better policy, new medical treatment approaches, innovations in industry, and much more. It is our responsibility to share this knowledge with a wide audience.”

Researcher Arlene Bloom believes that citizens have the right to do so. “Most scientific studies are funded by citizens who deserve to know the results of the research they are paying for,” she says. “Through a press release and communication plan, scientists can attract media attention and thus increase the reach and impact of their work.”

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So it’s time for scientists to get out of their ivory tower and make sure the world knows what they’re doing.