From time to time the Plastics Blog will devote space to debunking myths about plastics, and directing readers to some good sources of information where they can turn when they see a story that looks like a hoax. The latest hoax to hit the Internet seems to be the story that cancer patients will receive free chemotherapy in exchange for plastic caps. Thanks to Jody Murphy, a reporter for the News and Sentinel in Parkersburg, W.Va., we now know this story is not true. Murphy's story found that many churches in West Virginia -- and no doubt elsewhere -- are needlessly collecting plastic caps for a charity that doesn't exist. If someone started this as a joke... well, it's an understatement to say that it's sick. A colleague in Europe today sent me a copy of an email that's been circulating for months (if not years). It's about the alleged research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health about the safety of freezing or microwaving plastic containers. If you ever get a copy, make sure to send this link back to the sender -- it's a rebuttal from Johns Hopkins, confirming that the story is a hoax. Here's some more information about myth-busting Web sites, from a column I wrote back in 2005: If you want information about the safety of plastics in microwaves, for example, check out www.plasticsmythbuster.org, a Web site developed by the American Plastics Council. The Vinyl Institute's site, www.vinylinfo.org, also deals with common misinformation. If you're trying to convince someone who is skeptical of industry-sponsored information, here are a few more good sources for plastics-related science: www.stats.org, which is affiliated with the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. This site monitors the media to expose the abuse of science and statistics. www.acsh.org and www.healthfactsandfears.com are maintained by the American Council on Science and Health. Founded by scientists, the group aims ``to add reason and balance to debates about public health issues and bring common-sense views to the public.'' Finally, www.snopes.com is a fun site for debunking urban legends. It's searchable and has a fair number of science-related items. Feel free to add more suggestions for myth-busting Web sites in the comments section.
Debunking another hoax
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