The Scientologists' dubious detox program.

Health and medicine explained.
Oct. 21 2004 12:25 PM

Poisons, Begone!

The dubious science behind the Scientologists' detoxification program for 9/11 rescue workers.

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Some participants also said they were helped—and greatly relieved—by the program's forthrightness about environmental toxins. Several told me that staff members validated their concerns about Ground Zero exposure in a way that most public discourse (at least until very recently) did not. Indeed, advocates for the Hubbard method often dwell on government's sluggish response to environmental disaster—its propensity for "denial, damage control … [and] guarded disclosures of information"—and cast themselves as a frank alternative, in which public health is paramount and information on toxins is made easily available. This streak of activism reflects a humanitarian impulse in the Scientology detox campaign, however dubious the science behind it.

Amanda Schaffer is a science and medical columnist for Slate.

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