Friday, June 1, 2007

Our Bodies, Our Water

The Alliance for Democracy, June, 2007
(Click here to download this two page flyer.)

Our body contains many complex systems -- nervous, hormone, immune, and reproductive. All of our cells function by way of a complex message system that works with incredible sensitivity. Even trace amounts of toxic pollution can cause this system to fail and make normal cells function abnormally. The result can lead to disease and death.

Our Bodies are Increasingly Saturated with Toxic Chemicals

We know that many industrial chemicals used in everyday products are harmful to us. Over the decades, different ones have been exposed as more toxic than we once realized: lead, mercury, asbestos, DDT, PCBs, pesticides, tobacco, flame-retardants, solvents, perchlorate, dry-cleaning chemicals, agent orange, and the list goes on and on.... Still, tens of thousand of chemicals come onto
the market every year, and most are not tested for toxicity.

One of the chemical classes of major concern today is “hormone disrupting chemicals.” Trace amounts of these chemicals can disrupt normal brain and nervous system functions, harm our reproductive systems, cause behavioral and development problems in children, and cause fatal disease. This “chemical body burden” and early exposure can create a “pre-condition” for disease at any time in life, even many years after exposure. A mother’s “body burden” affects the development of the fetus and content of breast milk; a young person’s exposure to toxic chemicals may delay her healthy development; an older person’s exposure may trigger disease leading to early death.

Some Threats of Harm from Toxic Chemicals

Affects women and girls
Affects everyone Affects men and boys
• Breast cancer

• Chemicals in breast milk

• Lowered fertility

• Endometriosis

• Miscarriage
• Early onset of puberty

• Thyroid disease

• Faulty immune system

• Diabetes

• Alzheimer’s

• Parkinson’s

• Prostate cancer

• Autism, hyperactivity

• “Phthalate Syndrome”
undescended testicles,
deformity of the urinary-
reproductive tract

• Lowered sperm count;
deformed sperm

Old and New Ways of Thinking About How Chemicals Harm Us

In recent years, medical researchers have developed new understandings about how chemicals impair healthy
development and growth. New research has brought about these shifts in thinking:

Old: The dose makes the poison: more chemicals = more disease.
New: Low-level ‘background’ exposures can impair health as much as high doses; there is NO ‘safe’ exposure
level for many chemicals.

Old: Immediate cause and effect; we are harmed immediately upon exposure.
New: Periods up to decades long between being exposed to chemicals and falling ill.

Scientists and regulators considered the impacts of one chemical at a time.
New: We know that chemical combinations and stresses such as poverty, racism, continual exposure, and
compromised immune systems combine to cause “cumulative effects”.

Old: Focus on recognizable disease (cancers, etc.) as the result of toxic exposures.
New: Focus on a wide range of health impacts: immune system dysfunction, developmental and behavioral effects; reproductive dysfunctions; chronic diseases.

Old: Focus on adults as the category of highest risk.
New: Children are at higher risk due rapid growth and development.

Corporations Have No Right to Harm Us

Industry, agriculture, and the military regularly violate the law and our human rights by polluting our air, water and food – and they rarely receive more than a slap on the wrist for their criminal actions. They lobby government for lower standards and exemptions, and promote free trade agreements that erode drinking water standards and environmental protections.

They have no right to do this, and we have the right – and the responsibility – to stop them.

Corporations, given the right of persons in the 19th century, have no constitutional right
to pollute the bodies of natural persons.

We, the People, cannot wait for state and federal government
to fix the system and protect our water and our health.

The federal regulatory system is broken business and industry, along with “their” scientists, engage in suppression or falsification of information, cover-ups, lies, and intimidation federal and state regulatory agencies are high-jacked, not least by the revolving-door between government and the private sector corporate control of science, especially alliances with universities, undermines objective research to prove links between toxic chemicals and disease deceptive advertising shapes consumer understanding and choice, and deflects “bad” news doctors and authority figures peddle products giving a gloss of approval But there are things we can do!
Two clear steps for community action
Pass a Precautionary Principle Ordinance like people of San Francisco did. This permits the
City to act with “precaution” to prevent harms to the environment and protect public health even when full
scientific evidence about cause and effect is lacking.

To learn more:

Pass a “Chemical Trespass Ordinance” like the people of Liberty Township in Pennsylvania did. This prohibits “chemical trespass” within Liberty Township and establishes strict liability and burden of proof standards for chemical trespass. It also subordinates chemical corporations to the authority of the people of the township.

To learn more: (on left under New Ordinances -- scroll down to ordinance title)

Suggested Reading and Organizations
Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment, Sandra Steingraber, 1997
Our Stolen Future, Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumandski and John Peterson Myers, 1997. Also
Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution, by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, 2002
The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product That Defined America, Allan M. Brandt, 2007.

Alliance for Democracy, Defending Water for Life Campaign
Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHE) Join the BE SAFE Campaign and consult the Precautionary
Policy Clearinghouse at that includes precautionary-based laws, policies, local ordinances and industry
agreements on a range of issues.
Environmental Research Foundation, home of Rachel’s Democracy & Health News and Rachel’s Precaution Reporter News, tools and resources for justice and sustainable prosperity for all.
People’s Health Movement
Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN) for Precautionary Principle materials and
consult their Toxicant and Disease Database

No comments: