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Beyond a Wake-up Call

Forty-seven years ago Rachel Carson wrote "Silent Spring" warning of the indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides and their effects on our health and the environment.


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Forty-seven years ago Rachel Carson wrote "Silent Spring" warning of the indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides and their effects on our health and the environment. She challenged agricultural methods and government policies. She also challenged us to become aware and informed as well as change our view of the natural world.

We haven't even come close to meeting Carson's challenges. It mattered in her time - it is critical today. Complacency can no longer be an option. When we are directly affected and can voice an opinion and take action it is irreprehensible that we remain ignorant and silent, as with the imprudent use of toxic chemicals like the herbicides Roundup or Atrazine.

Both these herbicides pose harm to humans and wildlife. Currently in the news, Atrazine levels exceeded federal safety levels in the drinking water of 4 states - Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, Yet the EPA did not notify residents who were exposed to the high levels in their drinking water.

Atrazine is the most widely used herbicide in the U.S. applied on farms, athletic fields, and golf courses. Atrazine is an endocrine disruptor with complex effects on people, especially pregnant women. The list of possible diseases and disorders is extensive, including sexual abnormalities in fetal development, cancer, endometriosis, obesity and diabetes. Nena Baker, an environmental journalist writes, "Findings suggest that Atrazine which contaminates some corn products, might contribute to the development of insulin resistance and obesity especially when the exposure is associated with a high-fat diet."

We are all exposed to Atrazine through food, water, rain and dust. It attaches easily to dust particles and has been found in clouds, fog and snow. Many of our waterways have high levels. The US Geological Survey found Atrazine in groundwater in states where it is not even used. Those in farm areas are exposed to higher levels and often high spikes of Atrazine.

Another controversial herbicide used on a daily basis is Roundup. Past research only evaluated the substance glyphosate without the additives that are a part of the total product - Roundup. Additives are protected as 'trade secrets' thereby exempt to public disclosure. Termed, 'inert' these additives - solvents, preservatives, surfactants and other substances amplify glyphosate's toxicity

Recent studies that included the additives indicate very low doses are harmful to humans and animals. Roundup can pose a serious risk to pregnant women by interfering with hormone production that could lead to abnormal fetal development, low birth weights or miscarriages according to Environmental Health News. Further, cell damage can occur even at the residual levels found on Roundup-sprayed crops or lawns and gardens.

We find ourselves right now in the midst of a health care crisis with people adamantly opposed to providing health care to all Americans. Think about this aspect: how many of today's diseases and disorders are attributed to the prevailing use of toxic chemicals? Who is responsible? The industries that make and market toxic products? What about the people who use toxic products without concern for what they are using, how it affects others or are just too lazy to find out. Perhaps, just perhaps we all add to the dilemma and we're all responsible. Perhaps, just perhaps we should all be our brother's, sister's, children's keepers.

Elsan Zimmerly, Redmond

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