- AP reported Tuesday that EPA was weakening radiation regulations.
- AP then backpedaled on the claim and issued a major correction.
- ‘[S]top the spread of alarming misinformation,” EPA said in a statement on the correction.
The Associated Press issued a major correction Wednesday to a story claiming the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said “a little radiation may be healthy.”
EPA officials said The AP’s story “was not only wrong, but contrary to information provided to the reporter by the EPA press office in response to her inquiries.” EPA officials welcomed the correction and said media outlets who parroted The AP should do the same.
“If you used AP’s inaccurate reporting from October 2nd on EPA’s radiation standards you should want to immediately correct your stories to stop the spread of alarming misinformation,” EPA said in an emailed statement sent Wednesday.
The AP published a story Tuesday claiming EPA was moving to “weaken U.S. radiation regulations” by changing a “decades-old guidance says that any exposure to harmful radiation is a cancer risk.”
AP NewsBreak: Can a little radiation damage be good for you? EPA proposal says yes. https://t.co/wgDnLBg44l
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 2, 2018
This change, The AP noted, “could lead to higher levels of exposure for workers at nuclear installations.” The news organization admitted that while the policy change did not explicitly mention “radiation,” it quoted University of Massachusetts toxicologist Edward Calabrese. (RELATED: Trump Officials Say There’s ‘A Major Problem’ With The UN’s Upcoming Climate Report, Leaked Comments Show)
Calabrese is a critic of EPA’s use of the linear no-threshold model championed by environmental interests. Calabrese’s research has called into question this modeling when it comes to radiation, and he’s suggested that low levels of radiation may even bring some health benefits.
The AP, in part, based its story on an EPA news release that quoted Calabrese. However, 20 hours after initially publishing its piece it issued a correction:
“In an early version of a story Oct. 2 about EPA regulation of radiation, The Associated Press reported erroneously in a headline that EPA says a little radiation may be good for you. As the story made clear, that assessment came from scientific outliers, including one quoted by EPA in a news release. The headline was changed in later versions of the story.”
But that was after it made waves across the media.
The AP story was picked up by NBC News, which still has the uncorrected version on its website as of Wednesday afternoon. PBS News also re-published the AP article, but still hadn’t corrected it.
Esquire magazine repackaged The AP story with the sassy headline: “Getting Radiation Poisoning to Own the Libs.” The magazine’s summary of The AP’s article still has no correction.
EPA said it “provided numerous statements to the AP reporter regarding her inquiries on the subject and made abundantly clear that the regulation she was referencing did not even include the word ‘radiation’ in its almost 5,000 words.”
The AP’s report is actually referring to a transparency rule EPA proposed earlier in 2018 that would require the agency to include a wider range of public health models when crafting regulations. It would not eliminate linear no-threshold modeling as The AP’s initial reporting implied.
This isn’t the first time media outlets claimed EPA was weakening radiation standards. Bloomberg News reported in 2017 EPA was “weakening radiation safety levels” based on documents unearthed by an environmental group.
However, the document Bloomberg relied on in its report was a planning document, not a regulatory one, that drew on guidance released in the final days of the Obama administration.
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