By: Francis Koster, Ed.D.
We are engaged in a very large gamble involving our lives and the lives of others. We are introducing bad stuff into a closed system (Earth and its environment) as if it was going to go away, when it doesn’t. The literature is vast on the subject of environmental pollution, so we will not go deep here – but to get your attention, a few facts:
- Only 43% of chemicals produced in large volumes (more than 1 million pounds/year) have been tested for potential human toxicity, and only 7% have been studied for impacts on (biological) development.
- 2) In a study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. …..Of the 287 chemicals…. detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied.
- 3) Additionally, of the chemicals the United States tests for, no testing is done for interaction between them.
This is a problem which requires action by the entire society. One cannot take a personal approach to avoiding the pollutants by deciding to only drink bottled water, or eat organic foods. “Laboratory tests conducted for EWG at one of the country’s leading water quality laboratories found that 10 popular brands of bottled water, purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in 9 states and the District of Columbia, contained 38 chemical pollutants altogether, with an average of 8 contaminants in each brand. More than one-third of the chemicals found are not regulated in bottled water. In the Sam's Choice and Acadia brands levels of some chemicals exceeded legal limits in California as well as industry-sponsored voluntary safety standards. Four brands were also contaminated with bacteria.”
For example, “one bottled water brand spurred a 78% increase in the growth of the breast cancer cells compared to the control sample, with 1,200 initial breast cancer cells multiplying to 32,000 in 4 days, versus only 18,000 for the control sample, indicating that chemical contaminants in the bottled water sample stimulated accelerated division of cancer cells.”
 Body Burden — The Pollution in Newborns - A benchmark investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood Environmental Working Group, July 14, 2005