Thursday, March 20, 2014

PINK BOOTIES, BLUE BOOTIES, but no cap and gown

For years I lived and worked in Oxnard, and was included in Strawberry Festival outings and parties in honor of this giant fruit. 

Much more recently, a newspaper story about migrant children working in the fields, drew a much  different picture in my mind that will not, will never, go away.  An adult working in the strawberry fields, wearing a white, space-man safety suit like workers who approach severe radiation.  He is protecting himself from the chemicals used on the fruit. That suit doesn't come in child size.

medpage this week drew my attention to an article in the Atlantic:  The dangerous toxins that threaten our brains.  I hope I may quote some of this for educational purposes and to encourage you to read the Atlantic article.

For openers,  Dr. David Bellinger, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, has compared intelligence quotients among children whose mothers had been exposed to lead, mercury, and organophosphates while pregnant to those who had not. Bellinger calculates a total loss of 16.9 million IQ points due to exposure to organophosphates, the most common pesticides used in agriculture.

There are attention-getting pictures of dangerous toxins, including some we thought we'd got rid of some time ago.  

Then a segue intro to another article some of us have heard about.  
 "Philippe Grandjean, Bellinger’s Harvard colleague, and Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan, announced to some controversy in the pages of a prestigious medical journal that a “silent pandemic” of toxins has been damaging the brains of unborn children."

 That article is where some of us who once lived and worked in design in California learned belatedly about the  list of the big danger toxins, including flame retardants.

I don't want to scare your pregnant relatives into fits, but . . . those numbers about brain cells lost, endangered in the womb. . don't they make you want to call the White House?  Yell at Congress?  Shake some politician loose from his teeth?  

A point is raised:  how much exposure is too much?  We've believed for too long that there are safe limits. As Charles Kettering once said  "It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It's what you know that just ain't so."

For some babies, it's too late.  The article insists: The brains you're born with are the brains you get.

A picture of a snowy white house in an old ad for lead house paint ads leads us to an urgent conclusion:   We have no rules and no good tests for new chemicals that may cause undreamed of brain damage years down the road. 

The "repair" bills in the legislature now do NOT provide those precautionary rules and tests for future chemicals.  

This is where we either use our patient voices or look the other way.  

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