It was only a matter of time before the Right Wing smear machine set its sites on Obama’s nominee for Director of OSHA, Dr. David Michaels. And now that time has come. David is a friend and colleague and his name is not a stranger here (and here, here, here and probably other posts as well). His name comes up not because he’s my friend but because of his contributions to public health. His PhD is in occupational epidemiology and he’s made important contributions in the area of popcorn workers lung (despite the humorous name, it is a deadly disease) and beryllium poisoning. He knows government well, having served as Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health at the Department of Energy in the Clinton years, and he has written a highly praised book, Doubt is their Product: How Industry?s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health (one of Library Journal’s top 10 sci-tech books of 2008 and an Honorable Mention in the Society for Environmental Journalism’s 2009 Awards for Reporting on the Environment for the category Rachel Carson Environment Book Award). Not good enough for you? In 2006 David got the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award and shortly Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society will give him the John P. McGovern Science and Society Award. Still not good enough for you?
The right wing hates him. That should be all you need to know. But if you are a glutton for punishment, here is some of the garbage they are peddling:
1. Michaels will take away workers?s guns. There have been multiple blog posts claiming he is going to OSHA to take away the right of Americans to bring guns to work. Here are a few:
NB: OSHA has no jurisdiction over guns in the workplace and he has never worked on it as an issue (I believe he once wrote a blog post on it). In any event, the claim is pure delusion.
2. Michaels is behind the ?anti-Bisphenol A scare?.
Like me, David has written about BPA and the close relation between funders of research and its outcomes. It’s an issue he hasn’t taken scientific sides on.
3. He?s funded by George Soros
The Open Society Institute, along with others, has supported a project he worked on examining the role of scientists in civil society. You can read about it here.
4. He peddles ?Junk Science?
He is a target of lawyer “Junkman” Steve Milloy, a notorious right wing defender of the chemical and tobacco industry and climate change denier.
David nailed him in his book, exposing Milloy’s usual tactic of accusing a scientist whose results are inconvenient for one of his clients as a “junk scientist.”
None of that crap is about OSHA or the workers who will be killed in trench cave-ins or scaffold falls or health care workers unprotected from pathogens (including flu) in the hospital. It’s just more cynical smear attacks, but this time it has potentially deadly consequences. It is a Very Big Deal, not just for public health but for the health of working men and women in this country. David has been my friend and colleague for many years. Much more importantly, he is a friend and colleague of workers and their progressive advocates everywhere.