Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Sept. 30

Flu

Talk to your health care provider

In response to Kathy Abascal’s letter (Sept. 23) I would like to reassure her that my letter to the editor (Sept. 16) was fully grounded in a broad review of the scientific literature, including the Cochrane database she mentions.

So how can Ms. Abascal and I come to such different conclusions based on the same science? There are thousands of studies on various aspects of influenza management. It appears that Ms. Abascal selects a few articles that tend to support her bias but do not really make the argument of whether flu vaccines have a role as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

She also contradicts the studies she cites. She says Cochrane’s “review of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) found that flu vaccine produced no benefits.” Cochrane concludes, “vaccine reduces exacerbations in COPD patients.” She says that “vaccination does not reduce flu-induced asthma attacks.” They say, “uncertainty remains about the degree of protection vaccination affords against asthma exacerbations.” Ms. Abascal says, “flu vaccines have not been shown to benefit the elderly.” Cochrane says, “vaccines prevented about 45 percent of pneumonia, hospital admissions and influenza-related death in long-term care facilities and 25 percent in community settings.”

The reality is the influenza data is too vast to fully review in The Beachcomber. (And the readership would not appreciate such ongoing bickering!). I encourage people to speak to their health care providers for advice about whether to get either of the flu vaccines this year.

For an overview of the scientific literature, I would rely on the credentialed scientific experts at the Advisory Committee on Immunization (ACIP) that advises the Centers for Disease Control.

— Laurel Kuehl, M.D.

Glacier Northwest

Aggregates are approved for highway use

The aggregates at Glacier Northwest’s Maury site are suitable for use in both structural concrete and as fill. They meet state highway specifications. A Sept. 9 letter to the editor misstates this fact. It also misinterprets the value of fill materials.

The “third runway” and Mercer Island I-90 projects used millions of tons of fill. Using fill materials prevents premature depletion of higher quality construction-grade aggregates needed for structural applications.

Alternatives to Maury Island were analyzed. No other site offered comparable availability, access, quantity, geology or the necessary environmental reviews. Without meeting these requirements, a permit application could not be considered viable.

Regarding a “shortage,” aggregates are finite and non-renewable. Future supplies must be identified and permitted to keep pace with demand. Almost 1 million more people will make this area their home in coming years. Aggregate consumption and population growth occur in a nearly 1:1 ratio. The state estimates every Washingtonian consumes about 11 tons of aggregates per year. Transportation projects consume 51.7 percent of annual aggregate production. Washington’s Transportation Department has expressed concerns about inadequate future reserves.

Our Growth Management Act does an excellent job of requiring counties to identify, designate and protect natural resource lands. California doesn’t do this. It now imports a significant portion of its aggregates from Canada. With one British Columbia source depleted, another is primarily dedicated to serving California. Local aggregates once cost $12 per ton in San Francisco. Now, that same ton costs more than $22.

— Bruce Chattin, Washington Aggregates & Concrete Association

Otters

Many methods were attempted

The reporter who wrote the story about otter trapping characterizes us as summertime weekenders. We have had a home on Vashon for 23 years. We are here probably as much as in Seattle. We buy Vashon, use Vashon contractors and other vendors; we have a business here, are members of the Chamber of Commerce, attend church here, receive mail here; we donate to a number of causes here and consider ourselves proud members of your community.

The reporter makes it appear that I was the sole participant. Actually there were five families on two beach communities who financially contributed and many more supporters who did not contribute money. There had been numerous instances of property damage on boats and real property.

It is the trapper’s call as to what happens to the legally trapped otters, not mine.

The main motivation for using a trapper was the disease issue. Their feces and vomit carry a number of possible conditions which can especially affect immuno-compromised individuals. Unfortunately, three of our grandkids have this condition.

All of the suggestions do not work as I have tried them all, but I’m open to suggestions.

— Fiore J. Pignataro

Protect the creatures

I returned from vacation last Tuesday night and was dismayed to read about the otters killed here while I was watching their Canadian counterparts play in the surf. I couldn’t sleep that night, feeling deep sadness and anger that humans can eliminate wild creatures because we find them a nuisance as opposed to a threat to our own survival.

Mr. Pignataro was within his legal rights to have the otters trapped and killed, but maybe it’s time to rewrite laws that allow an individual to change the community ecosystem without public dialogue. If there is one thing I have learned by living on Vashon for nine years, it’s the real meaning of accountability. From driving safely to cutting down trees, our actions have an impact on our neighbors, be they two- or four-legged.

Does Mr. Pignataro depend on a healthy Puget Sound to enjoy boating? Otters are an integral part of healthy aquatic ecosystems. By wiping out an entire family of otters, the long-term impact is, and will remain, unknown. One immediate impact is the loss for all of us to see a lively, playful animal in its home environment. There have been recently reported sightings of bobcats and coyotes on our Island, and otters are one of their food sources. Now when domestic animals are attacked and killed by these wild predators, we can identify one of the contributing factors as human beings. The healthy biodiversity of Vashon-Maury depends on humane human decision-making. Let’s live up to our responsibility to our wild neighbors. It will benefit all of us.

— Kathryn True

Killing them is wrong

People who don’t like wildlife should buy homes (or weekend cabins) in places that don’t have wildlife. Killing river otters because they interfere with recreational plans is wrong in so many ways.

The otters use the boat because they need a safe place to get out of the water. Instead of killing them, Mr. Pignataro could give them a float. Another idea is to buy an old boat and float it ... and then put a good cover on his own boat.

— Cynthia Cruver

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