Repeal NeededEditor: A much more serious issue...


Repeal Needed

Editor: A much more serious issue faces boaters than thuser's fee mentioned in an article in The Sunday Sun (May 19, "Boaters want user fee scuttled").

The luxury tax on new boats has stopped their sale completely. Instead of hitting the rich, as intended, it is hurting the blue-collar boat builders. Many have closed and dealers have had to do the same, causing many job losses.

Since the sale of new boats is slow or almost non-existent, the government is not getting any tax money. The so-called luxury tax needs to be repealed.

Ruth Schell.


Weighing Risks

Editor: There has recently been considerable attention to thfact that a dentist in Maryland had AIDS, thus suggesting a potential risk to his patients.

The scientific basis for risk is the precedent of the Florida dentist who is now known to be the source of infection in three of his patients. It should be acknowledged that the mechanism of transmission from this dentist continues to be unclear, in part because he received dental care in his own office, he had a tumor in his mouth and because there are components of his infection-control practices that are not clear.

This remains the only case in which transmission of the HIV virus from a health-care worker to a patient has been proven, and the mechanism of transmission will probably never be known. It is not our intention to deny the fact of transmission in this case or even to suggest that it did not represent transmission in the context of routine dental care. To the contrary, we believe this type of transmission is biologically feasible. What we would like to emphasize is the reality of that risk, as compared to everyday activity.

The Centers for Disease Control, the federal agency responsible for oversight in public health issues, has reviewed extensive data from surveys and direct observations concerning the assessment of theoretical risks from dental procedures involving dentist infected with HIV. The worst-case scenario indicates a risk of one per 260,000 dental procedures by an infected dentist. Using alternative methods of analysis, the risk may actually be one in 2.6 million procedures.

To place these figures in perspective, it should be noted that the risk of getting HIV is 100 times less then the risk of being murdered while living in Baltimore one year, 64 times less than dying in a car accident with one year of ordinary driving, or 12 times less than being drowned. These figures are based on the worst-case scenario for the likelihood of transmission from a dentist with HIV infection.

If the dentist has not been tested, but has the same background risks as the average American, these risks are 1,000 times less. This means that the risk of dying in a car accident with average driving for one year is 100,000 greater than contracting AIDS in a dental office. It seems obvious that driving to the office is substantially more risky.

This is not to suggest that persons who have received care from a dentist known to be infected should not be tested for HIV. Indeed, this is encouraged in an effort to allay any fears of transmission, however remote. It does seem important, however, maintain an appropriate perspective based on the reality of this risk compared to many of the other events that take place in our daily lives that we now take for granted.

Fred Gill, M.D.

John Bartlett, M.D.


The writers co-chair the Medical Chirurgical Society of Maryland's AIDS committee.

Rejecting the Idea of No Nukes

Editor: You do not have to regard nuclear energy as an elixito agree that one lesson reinforced in recent years is that the overall safety and performance record of nuclear power plants in the United States has been impressive. It is a lesson that Ralph Nader's Public Citizen seems unwilling to learn (The Sun, April 26).

Public Citizen is once again monotonously recycling misleading claims about safety-related incidents at nuclear power plants, arguing that there is "an ongoing risk of a Chernobyl-scale accident in this country."

Just the opposite is true: the design of the Chernobyl reactor was fundamentally faulty. It could not have been licensed to operate in the United States or anywhere else in the West. In fact, the West Germans, who recently took control of three Soviet-style reactors in East Germany, have decided to shut down the reactors and replace them with Western nuclear technology.

MA By contrast, nuclear power plants in the United States are de

Crystal Hansen signed and built with safety systems in depth, and they are protected by containment buildings, so as to preclude the possibility of a Chernobyl-type accident. In addition, U.S. nuclear plants are operated professionally by the most extensively trained and licensed workers in America.

The facts show that the safety and environmental record of Western, non-Chernobyl nuclear power has been remarkable. No death or serious injury has been caused by radiation from any U.S.-style light-water reactor in the 30 years of commercial nuclear power.

Since 1982, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations in Atlanta has collected data on key performance indicators at U.S. nuclear power plants. The most revealing indicator, and the one most directly related to safety, is the number of automatic plant shutdowns. They are still declining, from an average of 6.1 per plant in 1982 to 4.3 in 1985 to 1.6 in 1990. Similar reductions have been seen in the unplanned use of safety systems, which dropped by nearly 47 percent over the last decade.

It is fair to wonder if Public Citizen will ever substitute its puerile notions about nuclear power with some real factual knowledge and learn to contribute constructively to the nation's challenges of meeting the ever-growing demand for electricity and reducing the threat to our security from dependence on imported oil and the threat to our environment from the rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels.

Anthony J. Baratta.

University Park, Pa.

The writer is a professor of nuclear engineering at Pennsylvania State University.

Justice Gender

Editor: If the majority of Supreme Court justices were womenas well they should be, certainly the ban on abortion counseling in federally subsidized clinics would have been found unconstitutional.

Joy Shillman.



Editor: I thought you were too hasty (news story, May 19) iyour rush to blame chlordane for the tragedy that has befallen the family of John and Kerry Bierly.

Had it been any other pesticide that had been used at the Bierlys' home, the story would not have been newsworthy.

Chlordane, however, because it was taken off the market by the manufacturer (it was not banned by E.P.A. as you claimed) is being portrayed as an unsafe product, and that makes news.

The nature of a pesticide is that it is designed to kill insects. What makes it safe to use around humans is the ability of the applicator to know how to safely apply it.

Today's commercial pest control applicator is a highly skilled, thoroughly trained and state certified professional. The Bierlys were not duped by the use of an unsafe product, but rather an unscrupulous operator who did not know how to properly apply chlordane.

When a consumer is solicited by a door-to-door salesman who insists on doing a job on the spot, he has no time to get a second opinion or check references before the job is done. He is at risk.

Consumers should be wary of these types of people. Ask to see some identification. Ask for a written report and proposal before the work is done. Inquire about terms of payment and a warranty if there is one.

Being informed is the best way of preventing another tragedy like the Bierlys'.

Julio Gonzalez.


The writer is president of the Maryland Pest Control Association.

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