Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pollution and Health: The Love Canal Disaster

In a lot of my work there is an assumed link between pollution and detrimental health effects. This would appear to be obvious but this is still contentious. We are using TRI data to get at some of these issues.

This story of birth defects in the US is sobering. In particular the long time lag between exposure and adverse effects is of interest. The use of the term "love canal" could not be more inappropriate.

As the EPA put it:

The Environmental Protection Agency calls Love Canal "one of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American history," and many believe the site is still deadly.

Love Canal's Lethal Legacy Persists


And now, on the 30th anniversary of Love Canal, a preliminary New York State Department of Health study says women like Retton, whose mothers were pregnant and exposed to those chemicals, have double the risk for reproductive problems -- low birth weights, pre-term deliveries and birth defects.

They are also at higher risk for kidney, bladder and lung cancer, according to a not-yet-released study of the health effects at Love Canal.


There, in a seemingly idyllic subdivision of swales, fields and neat bungalows, children played as carcinogens like benzene and dioxin bubbled up from the earth below. More than 6,000 residents were affected.

"It's scary," Retton told, as she walked ankle-deep in the untended brush where her childhood home was demolished in the clean-up effort.

"I feel like a research animal," said Retton, a redhead with cherubic features and waif-like limbs. "I don't think anything I have now compares to what I will get later. It's not if, it's when."

1 comment:

lamarguerite said...

Nothing we do is without consequences. Whether for us humans or other species. This is why there needs to be more educational initiatives on the fragility of biodiversity, that which sustains life.