Areas of Expertise & Interest
Research & analysis
I read a lot. The majority of my research time is spent searching, locating, and reviewing peer-reviewed articles and government documents available in the vast universe of scientific literature. I also need to obtain and review laboratory and environmental monitoring results, lists of ingredients and contaminants in consumer products, regulatory data submissions, legislation, government guidelines, and legal documents. There are many sources of information and opinion out there and it requires someone like me with many years of experience to separate the real science from the fake science. But reading is only half the story. In order to make any sense of toxicology and epidemiology data, it is important to critique, analyze, weigh, and compare the results in order to tease out the truth.
Human Health and the environment
Although conventional governmental programs tend to separate human health impacts of chemical exposures from those effects observed in ecosystems, I believe that the line between them is blurred. I have investigated the human and environmental impacts of a myriad of chemicals during my career; including for example: pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, halogenated hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, environmental phenols, phthalates, radiation, pharmaceuticals, and even the active ingredient in pepper spray. I have examined the impacts of chemical exposure or contamination in our water (drinking, underground and surface) air, soil, workplace environments, consumer products, food, and as an emergency responder following the catastrophic release of chemicals into the environment.
impact (risk) assessment
Did this chemical exposure cause my illness? Will daily use of this product cause cancer? Is our community at greater risk of harm because of the presence of this facility? These are the types of questions I am asked almost every day, not to mention the questions about diet. (Hint: never go out to eat with a toxicologist.) Conventional chemical risk assessment quantifies the probability of harm based on the toxicity traits, the level of exposure (when available), and dose-response considerations. Having been in this field for more than three decades, I can say with certainty that estimating risk is far more complicated than this. It requires a holistic approach taking into account other factors such as diversity, susceptibility, vulnerability, cumulative impacts, and preexisting conditions, to name a few.
education and community outreach
Impacted communities, in particular those identified as environmental justice communities are often unable to participate on equal terms with industry and government. However, I have found that people in such communities are the real experts on what is happening around them and to them and should have a strong voice in making decisions about its future. Education is the cornerstone that enables individuals and communities to feel stewardship for their environment, to understand its multi-dimensionality and interconnectiveness, and to participate in decisions about their environment. I provide educational and training services to communities, including materials that can be used to train communities to educate themselves on toxicology. Examples of communities I have recently worked with include Waimea, HI (pesticide drift) and Pavillion WY (fracking).
When all other forms of communication and negotiation fail, I know that taking further legal action is often an option to consider. If your situation has reached this point and you can benefit from the services of an experienced toxicologist then let's talk about how I might be able to assist you. I have prepared expert reports, declarations, and provided other forms of testimony for my clients for more than 30 years. On several occasions, I was called as an expert witness during my time as a California State official. I have also benefited from a career's worth of legislation analysis, rulemaking, public testimony, and legal proceedings such that I can often bring more to the table than just my knowledge of toxicology.
Over the course of my career I developed a strong interest in applying my knowledge of toxicology, legislation, and governmental practices into reforming environmental health policies to be more effective, proactive, and protective. For example, in 2012 I testified at a congressional hearing on the safety of cosmetics during a time when the adequacy of the relevant law and regulations was being debated. The turning point in my career was in 1992 when I accepted a special assignment as the Director of California's Comparative Risk Project, a joint venture with US EPA, CalEPA and other State agencies, and public and private organizations. The final product, although controversial at the time, resulted in increased awareness of the deficiencies and pitfalls of solely using risk-based decisions along with the need to integrate environmental justice principles into environmental decision-making.