When journalists pretend to be experts on topics they know little about, their readers are ultimately the ones who suffer. Lauren Cahn of Reader’s Digest is a good example.
In a recent story entitled, “15 Things in Your Home That Can Cause Cancer,” Ms. Cahn mixes unscientific analysis with out-of-context findings to give readers the false impression that perfectly safe consumer products might be hazardous to human health. In what can only be described as a clickbait hit job, her story cites dubious content – and drives an uninformed perspective that only serves to instill irrational fear among her readers.
And Reader’s Digest bears notable responsibility here, too, for allowing Ms. Cahn’s careless story to appear. To see this once respected publication stoop to such a low standard is just the latest example of how race-to-the-bottom-journalism has perpetuated rampant misinformation about vinyl material.
Ms. Cahn’s piece relies on rumors, long refuted speculation, and holistic living websites. And she irresponsibly perpetuates the notion that exposure, at any level, can create a human health risk – when the facts show that simply isn’t true. It’s the amount of exposure, and the specific chemical, that matters.
But Ms. Cahn completely dismisses this basic scientific principle and, instead, offers a slew of misguided advice across a wide spectrum of products and chemicals. We’ll focus specifically on her distortions regarding vinyl and PVC. And our analysis will lean heavily on the scientific record: