Read the Full Letter of Harvard-Trained Toxicologist, Stephen Lester, Critiquing the DHS Wausau Dioxin Assessment
READ THE FULL LETTER BELOW OR DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THE LETTER
INFORMATION ON STEPHEN LESTER
Biographical Source Information Courtesy of CHEJ
• Master of Science degree in Toxicology from Harvard University
• Second Master of Science degree in Environmental Health from New York University (NYU)
• Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from American University
• Mr. Lester has served on numerous scientific advisory and peer review committees including those of the Natural Resource Council of the National Academy of Sciences, the National institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Children’s Health Protection
Advisory Committee Schools Siting Task Group, among others
• Participated in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) activities on dioxin since 1994
• Reviewed and submitted comments on the draft health assessment documents multiple times and on drafts reviewed by the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) and a committee of the National Academy of Sciences.
• Contributed to two significant reports on dioxin, Dying from Dioxin, published in 1995, and The American People’s Report on Dioxin, published in 1999
• Presented papers on dioxin at scientific conferences.
• As Science Director at CHEJ (since 1983), worked with hundreds of grassroots communities where exposure to dioxin was a major concern. These communities include Superfund sites in Jacksonville and Pensacola, FL, Lock Haven, PA, Columbia, MS, Jacksonville, AR, Times Beach, MO and Love Canal in Niagara Falls, NY.
• Devoted a good portion of career to evaluating the public health risks resulting from exposure to dioxin.
Summary / Overview
– At the request of members of the Citizens for a Clean Wausau group, a prominent toxicologist, Stephen Lester — both Harvard-trained and with extensive dioxin experience — agreed to review (pro bono) the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) letter report dated August 20, 2018, on dioxin contamination in Riverside Park and the surrounding Thomas and River Street neighborhood.
– Mr. Lester provided his opinion and comments on the above DHS report in a letter to Citizens for a Clean Wausau, in care of one of its members, dated November 2, 2018
– The letter states that “the risk calculations and analysis conducted by the WI DHS is inadequate and incomplete”
– After reviewing neighborhood data, Mr. Lester also stongly disagrees with the DHS conclusion that “no apparent health hazard for people using the Riverside park and residents in living in the Thomas Street neighborhood due to dioxin soil contamination.”
– Among Mr. Lester’s reasons in the enclosed letter are that:
1. Most importantly, the DHS risk calculations and analysis “failed to consider the
cancer risk posed by exposure to dioxin in soil.” Mr. Lester states: “This is important
because dioxin is generally considered the most potent man-made carcinogen ever
2. ”The WI DHS inconsistently applied worst case scenario assumptions in calculating
non-cancer risk estimates for dioxin in soil.”
3. “The levels of dioxin found in 5 of 16 (31%) samples taken from the neighborhood soil
exceed USEPA screening levels for dioxin in soil and levels used to clean up a federal
Superfund site. ”
4. “There is insufficient sampling data for dioxin in soil in the Thomas neighborhood to
properly determine the extent of dioxin contamination in the neighborhood. ”
5. “WI DHS should conduct additional testing in the Thomas Street neighborhood in
order to define the extent of dioxin contamination in this area”
– “Once sufficient tests have been conducted, the risks posed to the residents who live in this community can be evaluated. It is inappropriate to evaluate the public health risks using the limited sampling data that is currently available and to evaluate only the non-cancer risks when the primary toxic effect posed by exposure to dioxin is the risk of developing cancer.”