Mailbag: Rebuttal to plastic bag ban study

This is a response to Jim Mouradick's letter connecting plastic bag bans increased death from food poisoning (see below). I was intrigued by the data to support this claim. I did a little research and was surprised when I saw a very similar letter on a blog written by a Steven Hayward.

As to the study, I found this rebuttal to the Klick and Wright study, from Dr. Tomas Aragon, San Francisco health officer. These are just three points from all they found. Pretty interesting food for thought from Aragon:

1. "The Klick and Wright study is classified as an ecological study; that is, if factor A (reusable bags) increased in a location, and then factor B (gastrointestinal bacterial infections) increase in the same location, therefore, factor A caused factor B. Drawing causal conclusions from this type of study is called an 'ecological fallacy.'"

2. "In testing causal hypotheses, it is necessary to measure the outcome (gastrointestinal infections) and exposure to the putative cause (reusable bags) in the same persons. Because of their study design, this was not possible."

3. "In testing causal hypotheses, it is necessary to 'control for' alternative causal explanations (called 'confounders'). Because of their study design, this was not possible. For example, gastrointestinal bacterial infections are not only caused from contaminated food, but also from contaminated water, improper food-handling or -preparation, or from person-to-person spread (such as sexual activity, especially in men who have sex with men). In any causal study, investigators always adjust for the 'usual suspects.'"

The authors, Wright and Klick, also purportedly received funding from the American Chemistry Council — a trade group that represents plastic bag manufacturers.

It looks an awful lot like an industry-requested and -funded report that cherry-picked numbers for a specific headline outcome. Oh well, if it gets folks to air out and clean their disposable bags, I guess that's a good thing.

Editor's note: The Coastline Pilot learned after publication that portions of the letter in the Feb. 15 issue, "Trade-offs to environmentally friendly," previously appeared on a website, The letter writer said he collaborated on the piece with another writer, who sent it to various blogs.

Chris Prelitz

Laguna Beach


School year change 'worst communicated idea'

Normally when a major change of any type in any situation is made, there is a compelling reason to make such a change; see, that's the missing piece here.

Remember what was reported from the school district to the parents and community at the beginning of the year about our school district's performance? All schools had made major gains, had achieved the highest scores in history, and were among the highest performing schools in the state.

What that says to me is we clearly do not have an "absenteeism/student achievement issue" to solve. So if there is not a problem with our kids' achievement levels, what problem are we solving? Makes me wonder what the real reason is for this magnitudinal change, which just happens to be the worst-communicated idea in years. Guess that's why parents who have listened to the audio tape from the district's meeting on this were so sensitive to the comment, "if that's what LBUFA wants."

So what are we teaching our kids here, exactly? Guess we'll see when the district makes its next move. Hopes it's a good learning lesson.

Brent Martini

Laguna Beach


Veterans needed to support American Legion

All veteran organizations exist to support our Constitution, other veterans, the VA hospitals, the active military, and our youth and community.

The veterans in the Laguna Beach American Legion Post 222 are the ones who put up the flags around town on patriotic holidays and perform myriad services for veterans and youth programs. However, time has taken a toll on performing many of the Post activities, as those who served in World War II and Korea are becoming incapacitated or have already passed on to Post Everlasting.

Some, but too few, of those who served during Vietnam and the ongoing War on Terror, for one reason or another, have not opted to continue their service to the country and community by taking an active roll in the American Legion. This is understandable, with the pressures of earning a living and raising a family, which for most of these younger veterans, like it was for us older veterans, take precedence over being involved in the Legion.

Also, the pool of eligible veterans has dramatically diminished since World War II, during which millions of young Americans served in the military versus today's wars, where a far lower percentage of people serve. The net result is that all the veteran organizations are losing the capability to properly support all the patriotic and veteran-serving programs in which they are involved. So what is the solution to this growing problem? Basically, with a smaller pool of veterans to draw from, we need a much higher percentage of eligible veterans to join the Legion now.

Therefore, I am asking every veteran and person on active duty, young or old, that lives in or near Laguna Beach to join up and continue your service to your country, comrades and community, and for as many as possible to join us in some of our activities and attend as many monthly meetings as possible. Our women's Legion Auxiliary will also welcome all eligible women to join them. Any woman whose parent, grandparent, husband, child, or sibling served or is serving is eligible and encouraged to join the Auxiliary. Need to know more? Contact me at (949) 494-2065 or email

Watch for us as we once again lead Laguna's Patriots Day Parade, proudly showing our country's colors.

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach

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