Articles Tagged with contamination

If you have reason to research how chemicals can harm your family-say, for example, your water supply has been found to be contaminated-please be careful. There is a lot of “information” available on the internet, but not all of it is reliable. In the unreliable category are studies performed or funded by the companies who manufacture those chemicals, or use them in their industrial processes. They have hundreds of millions, maybe billions, of dollars to gain by convincing us that their chemicals are safe. And while this extraordinary financial stake does not necessarily make their research false, common sense tells us that it may well cause them to resolve the scientific grey areas in favor of a conclusion that chemicals are safe, or not as dangerous as perhaps they truly are. That alone should cause you to look elsewhere for information to which you can trust your family’s health.

Who should you trust?

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), for one. NRDC is a non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and other professionals who approach health and environmental issues from the people’s point of view. They take no money from polluters and others who might want to minimize environmental dangers to human beings. They advocate for those things that protect people, and insist that all doubts about, say, whether a chemical is dangerous, be resolved in favor of protecting human life and health, unless and until the doubts can be conclusively resolved to prove such protection unnecessary.

I’ve been working for nearly 18 years helping families in American neighborhoods use our court system to force the companies that polluted their water to clean it up. Despite all the anguish that having contaminated water initially caused these families, and despite the truly reprehensible behavior of some of the polluters who caused the contamination, I’ve always known one source of hope and pride: the American belief that everyone in this country has the right to clean water. We back up this belief with a host of laws–like the federal Clean Water Act–and regulations that compel our government agencies and courts to honor the right to clean water, even if it means forcing a polluter to spend millions of dollars to restore clean water to a neighborhood.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for bhaktapur-909812_1280.jpgNow, it’s certainly a fair criticism–I’ve voiced it regularly–that our “clean water” laws could be stronger, enforced more vigilantly, or applied more thoughtfully, to help the disadvantaged in our communities. But the very fact that we have these laws at all, available for enforcement by courts who take them seriously in the great majority of cases in which I have been involved or of which I am aware, separates us from most countries in the world.

We Americans are often stunned to learn that the access to clean water which most of us take for granted is not shared by many in the rest of the world. As reported by an extraordinary organization called “Charity: Water”, there are more than 663 million people in the world who live daily without access to clean water.

blood-1761832_1920.jpgThe FDA has just issued a warning that certain tests for lead in blood drawn from patients’ veins since 2014 may have falsely assured those patients that they were not suffering from lead contamination when, in fact, they were. The suspect tests were those typically conducted in doctors’ offices, and using a testing method associated with a company known as Magellan Diagnostics.

In this very early stage of the FDA investigation, much is not clear, such as: how many patients are potentially affected, and why the suspect results seem confined to blood drawn from veins, and not via the typical finger-pricking method. Blood is typically drawn by doctors from patients’ veins only to confirm results obtained via finger-pricking which suggested an unacceptably high lead concentration in the blood. This, of course, raises the concern that patients whose doctors drew blood from their veins because of a concerning finger-prick test may actually have had dangerous levels of lead in their blood, but received false assurance that there was no problem as a result of the faulty Magellan Diagnostics test.

Plainly, the stakes are very high here: Lead in the human body has been proven to cause a variety of serious health consequences, including developmental delays in young children. There is no safe level of lead in the human body, thus making the accuracy of testing for lead in blood, especially in children, vital.

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