The recent tar sands disaster in Arkansas is only one example of toxic chemicals causing health problems–both residents and those working on “clean-up” developed health problems from exposure to the diluted bitumen that spilled in the community.
There are chronic health problems and cancers associated with exposure to synthetic chemicals. Farmers caught in the cycle of pesticides and herbicides show higher rates of certain cancers, and children in households using pesticides frequently show higher rates of typically childhood cancers such as leukemia.
Congress only enacted the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) in 1986.
We have become so inured to our exposure to toxins that it is expected that something, somewhere, in our life is going to give us cancer.
Industry has worked hard to “prove” that the links to cancer and other health problems aren’t clear. Science moves slowly to make definitive claims, but the evidence is clear enough that exposure to these assorted chemicals and their compounds is causing us harm.
So, then, why is it allowed to continue? If we can control our environmental toxins, why aren’t we?
Those are obviously rhetorical questions. I know why we aren’t controlling the pollutants! Because industry is allowed to make money at our expense! Because our environment and our communities are not as important as corporate interests. To restrict sales and use of these chemicals, we might be interfering with corporate freedom.
Never mind that my individual freedom and health is interfered with via industrial freedom. Never mind that poor communities in Montreal and Detroit are having tar sands pipelines run through them and tar sands waste piled on their river. They don’t have the dollars to vote with. They can be thoroughly taken advantage of, for the benefit of the Koch Brothers.
We need to protect our communities and our environment. Kalamazoo, Michigan, was the victim of a tar sands spill in 2010. The oil is essentially impossible to clean up. As many times as industry will promise that there will be no such spills, a spill is inevitable. Even if it wouldn’t happen regularly (even though it does), the costs are catastrophic.
We need more outrage.