A landmark Environmental Protection Agency report concluding that children exposed to toxic substances can develop learning disabilities, asthma and other health problems has been sidetracked indefinitely amid fierce opposition from the chemical industry.
America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition, is a sobering analysis of the way in which pollutants build up in children’s developing bodies and the damage they can inflict.
This is the country we live in. Huge, corporate, monied interests trump the health and safety of a nation and its citizens. It certainly can’t be a surprise that, after more than 100 years of creating multiple, synthetic chemicals that become the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the products we buy, and dispersing them into the air and water and soil, we have been seeing the toxic consequences. What is amazing to me is the denial of this fact, despite mounting scientific evidence, as well as common sense. What is outrageous to me is that there is no outrage. We ask constantly: why is there more autism now, more cancer, more autoimmune disorders? Why are more children being diagnosed with ADHD, developmental, and behavioral disorders? Why, in a nation so educated, so well-fed, and so rich, are we so sick? When the answers present themselves in the form of scientific studies, why are there so many non-believers? So many deniers? So many people that just say: “Nah”?
Harvard University’s Sheila Kaplan continues:
The EPA states that the report is intended, in part, to help policymakers identify and evaluate ways to minimize environmental impacts on children.
That’s an unwelcome prospect to the $674 billion chemical industry, which stands to lose business and face greater legal liability if the EPA or Congress bans certain substances mentioned in the report or sets standards reducing the levels of exposure that is considered safe.
Among other findings, the report links numerous substances to ADHD, including certain widely available pesticides; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS), which were banned in 1979 but are still present in products made before then and in the environment; certain polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), used as flame retardants; and methyl mercury, a toxic metal that accumulates in larger fish, such as tuna. The draft also cites children’s exposure to lead, particularly from aging lead water pipes, as a continuing problem.
If you ever wonder just what is going on, it is usually instructive to simply “follow the money.” We may be better off to live in reality and follow the science. And you can’t pick and choose the science you believe in and the science you don’t; the knowledge you’ll subscribe to and the knowledge you won’t. Yes, you can be skeptical and question the methods or the conclusions of a study — the goal being to develop more studies to make the conclusion more (or less) definitive. Attempt to disprove, yes, do try. But you cannot simply deny science because you don’t like what it says. You can’t accept some science like biology (take your medicine), genetics (modern agriculture), physics (gravity), chemistry (water is H2O) while at the same time denying other science like biology (vaccines), genetics (evolution), physics (climate change), chemistry (the age of the earth). You can’t do that!
Read the goals and methods of the EPA report “America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition” here:
Read Sheila Kaplan’s article done for the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, and posted at NBCNews.com here.