Social Commentary By: Dr. Terrence Drew.
SKN PULSE, Monday, 17th August, 2015 -NIOSH is RIGHT : THE GOVERNMENT is WRONGhe Team Unity government is hell bent on ignoring the findings of reputable scientific organizations with reference to the BHS. Recently, the minister with responsibility for Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports, the Honourable Shawn Richards, said that the NIOSH report is inconclusive. His sentiments came on the heel of what was quickly and previously uttered by other government supporters. This particular stance is dangerous in that for political mileage, this government is willing to be ‘stiff-necked’ and put at risk the proper education of our youth.
The NIOSH report is complete and well executed. As a medical doctor, I am in awe of this wonderful document, this scientific work of art. NIOSH is truly the best on the planet at what they do. This is a no-nonsense organization with the highest scientific standards and to hear this government debasing them is perplexing. We certainly risk being viewed as a backward society where scientific information is blatantly ignored /distorted for the sake of petty politics should this idiocy continue.
The Deputy Prime Minister (Shawn Richards) said that they did not find carbon dioxide because students were not in school. They (NIOSH) did not find it because what they tested for was, in fact, carbon monoxide, which is actually lethal in high concentrations. Carbon dioxide is a gas that animals and human beings breathe out. It is actually extremely rare to find carbon monoxide in dangerous concentrations in areas that are naturally ventilated such as the classrooms at BHS. This shows a complete lack of scientific knowledge on the part of Minister Richards and this government which reflects an utterly sad state of affairs. Our people must demand the best from the government.
Continuing, the DPM mentioned that H2S( hydrogen sulphide) gas was low because the bathrooms were not being flushed or that the the school was unoccupied. These prestigious scientists are in no way naive, unlike this government’s cabinet, when it comes to science; on the contrary, they set the scientific standard. As a result of dry water pipes, the scent is created. If there is water flowing through the pipes then H2S gas would be unable to build up and create the smell. For these reasons, NIOSH has said very strongly that the testings should be stopped as there is no scientific reason to continue. I suggest the ministers read the report again. While in opposition, this government spoke about the labs, implying that the samples of chemicals stored within them could have caused some widespread health issue. Speaking as a past student and science teacher of the BHS, I assure you the quantity of chemicals and their concentrations are not sufficient to create wide spread pollution and illnesses on the scale that is being suggested. Small samples are used for scientific inquiry at the high school level, which is safe.
A few articles were recently written by some of the government’s supporters where they are questioning the scientific conclusion of NIOSH. Anyone who does this runs the risk of losing his/her prestige in the scientific field. Of course, any report can be challenged but as a medical doctor, I suggest this be done on scientific grounds. So far, the argument by the Unity supporters can be equalled to that of people who still believe that the earth is flat in spite of all the scientific information available. This is a Dark Ages approach in the Age of Enlightenment.
What is also very interesting is that this is fundamentally a health issue but the health minister, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, is neither heard nor seen while Minister Shawn Richards is made/left to make a scientific fool of himself. I cannot in good conscience blame Minister Richards solely; the entire cabinet, especially junior minister, the Honourable Wendy Phipps, who misled the nation by stating the report was being withheld due to missing soil testing results, is to be blamed. Upon its release to the general public, the report revealed that NIOSH has unequivocally stated that this process be stopped. We need to hear from Minister Eugene Hamilton as this is fundamentally a health issue. I welcome a healthy debate with him about this most important issue in our nation to date.
It is well-known now that there is no smoking gun at the school and this government needs to accept that. I urge them to stop trying to discredit these esteemed scientists. The government should humble itself, uphold the results, and act accordingly.
NIOSH is right and the Government is wrong. Accept this scientific fact.
Posted By Pulse Master.