Next week the Stockholm Convention's Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee is convening again, an event insiders refer to as POPRC 6 (pronounced "pop rock"). Today's post will serve as the "pre-game show" for the meeting, highlighting what's a stake. On October 8 I fly to Geneva to attend the weeklong meeting, and with any luck I'll manage to update GroundTruth with a few dispatches from the meeting and then a "post-game" debrief afterward.
Once there was a village along a river.
The people who lived here were very kind.
These residents, according to parable, began noticing increasing numbers of drowning people caught in the river's swift current.
And so they went to work, devising ever more elaborate technologies to resuscitate them.
So preoccupied were these heroic villagers with rescue and treatment, that they never thought to look upstream to see who was pushing the victims in.
This is a walk up that river.
So begins Living Downstream, a new film based on book of the same name by ecologist, poet, and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber. In the tradition of Silent Spring, the film examines the connections between human health and the health of the environment, and questions whether polluted ecosystems can sustain healthy communities. The film highlights atrazine and other chemicals linked to cancer that contaminate our bodies and our environments.
There’s plenty of talk in Washington DC these days about the importance of keeping kids healthy. From Michelle Obama’s initiatives promoting healthy eating and exercise to EPA leader Lisa Jackson’s emphasis on children’s health, politicians and policymakers are recognizing the importance of creating healthy environments for kids.
The Obama Administration has a chance to “walk the talk” in Geneva next week, when experts from around the world will discuss the fate of a new group of persistent pollutants being considered for global phase out. The link to kids health couldn’t be clearer: these chemicals build up in the environment and in our bodies, posing particular dangers to developing infants and children.
It was only a matter of time. Lately newspapers have been filled with stories about the return of bed bugs, those nocturnal bloodsuckers that most of us had previously encountered only in our parents' nightly admonition to not let them bite. I grew up thinking that they weren't even real, just something adults made up along the lines of the bogeyman, monsters, and the tooth fairy. But they are indeed real, and they were once common in the U.S., until — as nearly every contemporary article about their resurgence points out — they were eliminated by the use of DDT just after WWII. So it was only a matter of time before people started blaming the current resurgence of bed bugs on EPA's ban on DDT.
Many U.S. residents carry toxic pesticides in their bodies at levels above what the government says are “acceptable.” Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability is an analysis of pesticide-related data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a study of chemicals measured in the bodies of thousands of people nationwide. PAN explores tools for determining the accountability of pesticide corporations for residues of specific chemicals found above levels considered by EPA to be "safe".
These profiles tell the stories of people living near agricultural fields who are concerned about their health and the health of their families.
Those cancer-causing chemicals approved for widespread use on our farms and in everyday products? Well, they’re causing cancer. Lots of it.
The numbers are staggering, really. According to a report delivered to the White House last month by the prestigious President’s Cancer Panel, 41 percent of the U.S. population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and one in five Americans can expect to die from the disease.
So it looks like Congress is finally beginning to take a serious look at toxic chemicals and how they affect our health. This week they heard from advocates, health professionals and parents calling for stronger laws to protect children from dangerous chemicals. The Senate subcommittee hearing included participants in the innovative biomonitoring study: Mind, Disrupted.
When chemicals that are designed to kill are introduced into delicately balanced ecosystems, they can set damage in motion that reverberates through the food web for years.