In 2012, 10 Americans were tested for 413 toxic chemical pollutants. These 10 individuals had never breathed the air, drank tap water, consumed food from the grocery store or used personal care products. They weren’t farm workers or factory workers. They were babies yet to be born. The study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, found that babies are born pre-polluted with as many as 300 chemicals in their bodies, an average of 200 chemicals in each baby. This was the first study since the beginning of the chemical revolution to examine umbilical cord blood to determine whether chemicals were passed on to babies in the womb, babies who are at the most vulnerable time in their lives for they lack any blood brain barrier. Scientists and physicians hoped that babies were protected in the womb, that chemicals were filtered out by the placenta. They were not. Industrial pollution begins in the womb. Among the chemicals detected in these babies were: 28 different waste byproducts, including dioxins and PCBs; 47 different consumer product ingredients from flame retardants, teflon chemicals and Scotch-guard in furniture, clothing and cookware. Most alarming, the blood of these babies contained 212 industrial chemicals and pesticides banned over 30 years ago.
Continue reading “What Will Our Descendants Say About the Earth We Leave Behind? Part II.”
“ In effect, then, to establish tolerances is to authorize contamination of public food supplies with poisonous chemicals in order that the farmer and the processor may enjoy the benefit of cheaper production—then to penalize the consumer by taxing him to maintain a policing agency to make certain that he shall not get a lethal dose. But to do the policing job properly would cost money beyond any legislator’s courage to appropriate, given the present volume and toxicity of agricultural chemicals. So in the end the luckless consumer pays his taxes but gets his poisons regardless.” ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962
Modern pesticides and herbicides emerged post World War II, many designed for warfare, their toxicity tested on insects. Those chemicals that killed insects were marketed as a means to increase agricultural production. “Feed the Hungry” was the mantra. Early chemicals introduced in the 1940s, including DDT, diedrin and related aldrin, eldrin, heptoclor/chlordane, 2-4-D (dioxin), were declared the answer to an ever-increasing number of destructive insects and weeds taking a toll on agriculture. When insects developed resistance, chemicals far more toxic than their predecessors were synthesized, marketed and spread throughout the world, but nowhere more than the US. The toxicity of these chemicals was only understood over decades. Dead birds and fish, eggs that failed to hatch, illness in workers employed in chemical production and town residents exposed to chemicals dumped in their water and soil. Continue reading “What Will Our Descendants Say About the Earth We Leave Behind? Part I.”