Saturday, January 8, 2011

Overexposure [A Draft, Published]

Unpublished drafts are piling up again in the old blog post hopper. 

Uh oh, here I go, set off by my own first sentence. 

HopperA temporary storage bin, filled from the top and emptied from the bottom, often funnel-shaped.

It's okay... I am reining myself back in.  Imagine Mental Police on the Inner Bull Horn:  Step away from the definitions.  Drop the bad analogy.  Now!  Drop it!  On your knees!

Sometime before Christmas, I let the stuff of life get me down.  It happens.  Fortunately, I eventually remember that I control at least one aspect of the swirling dervish of informational input threatening the boundaries of self -- and take measures to limit my exposure. 

Turn the computer off.  Mute the television.  Put on some music.  Mop the floor.  Or, yeah, do that other thing that just popped in your head!

Anyway, I think it the meltdown below began with... the state of our tap water.  What else?

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****

Exposure to chromium compounds in the Valley of Leon, Mexico

As much as I'd like to think myself impervious to most influences outside the magic walls and halls of Marlinspike Manor, situated deep, deep in Tête de Hergé, I've fallen prey to the nefarious influence of... the news of the day.

Not the Big News, even, nationwide or international, but the stories featured on online newspapers, mostly USAmerican in origin.  They leap off the monitor "page," and well, I think they suck my brains out through my eyes. Not to put too fine a point on it.

I had just finished reading an article sent to me by an environmentally conscious friend, all about the threat of carcinogenic hexavalent chromium in tap water.  She lives in one of the cities that turned out to have higher-than-is-sane levels of the stuff.  If it rings a bell, your brain is probably screaming "Erin Brockovich," because this is the same pollutant she targeted in the famous case against PG & E, charged with poisoning the groundwater in Hinkley, California -- a "toxious tort." The utility's compressor station at Hinkley used hexavalent chromium to prevent rust in its cooling towers.  Most people could have foreseen problems, given that the station's used water was then stored in unlined ponds, from where the carcinogen eventually leached into the desert community's source for drinking water.

The case settled back in 1996.  Eleven years later, we are still shocked by the news that we're drinking down unhealthy levels of the stuff?

"It is sometimes difficult to understand why I still have to warn the public about the presence of hexavalent chromium in drinking water 23 years after my colleagues and I first sounded the alarm," Brockovich told the The Environmental Working Group / EWG. "This report underscores, in fairly stark terms, the health risks that millions of Americans still face because of water contamination."

[Subsequent to the famous Hinkley case], a 2005 Wall Street Journal investigation and a separate EWG report based on court documents and depositions from a similar lawsuit in Kettleman City, Calif. revealed that PG&E had hired consultants to publish a fraudulent analysis of cancer mortality in Chinese villagers exposed to hexavalent chromium, in an attempt to disprove the link between the chemical and cancer. The study was published in the respected Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and scientists and regulators — including the EPA — cited the fraudulent article in research and safety assessments. The journal retracted the paper in 2006 in response to EWG’s request for corrective action.

California officials then conducted a rigorous re-assessment of the study data, finding a statistically significant increase in stomach cancer among the exposed. Their analysis is consistent with laboratory evidence from the National Toxicology Program and others showing that hexavalent chromium in tap water causes gastrointestinal tumors in multiple species.

Industry has sought for more than six years to delay state-mandated regulation of hexavalent chromium in tap water in California. Aerospace giant Honeywell International Inc. and others have stalled the adoption of the advisory public health goal by pressing for additional external scientific peer review. California’s Department of Public Health can neither set nor enforce a mandatory tap water standard for hexavalent chromium until the goal is finalized.

You can read the Executive Summary of the report in .pdf file HERE.


Did you know that, for many years, and as recently as 1995, when the EPA designated a Super Fund cleanup of a site, one of the initial "remedial" measures taken was to use an incinerator on the soil?  This is part of what some residents of the Toms River area of New Jersey believe is behind the discovery of SAN trimer in their groundwater -- leached directly from the Reich Farm Superfund site, "where spent process streams from the manufacture of polymers of styrene and acrylonitrile by Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) were dumped..."  

Then some chucklehead decided it would be a good idea to INCINERATE the stuff.

Thanks to some awesome bloggers, I recently learned about the terrible phenomenon of childhood cancer clusters, including the possibility of one at the Toms River site. I was googling in search of more information when I ended up misdirected and somehow reading the Dayton Daily News from Ohio online.

I think my nimble fingers purposefully messed up, trying to give my psyche a break from all the bad news.

Lots of luck!

In the lower right corner of the "front page" was the usual list of local stories that some bot or other thinks would fascinate me.

Right now in Dayton, it's 33 degrees but feels like 24.  And in other news...

Paraplegic grandfather found in van was stabbed and strangled.
Burglars steals Christmas presents wrapped under tree.
Thieves cut down spruce tree behind local church.
Police levy likely to be on May ballot.

Additional stories from the Ohio paper's "news partners" were laid bare, as well, in minimal headlines -- large stories in small titles, tucked in lower corners:

Family's schnauzer found shot expected to survive.
Man dressed as Santa kicked out of mall.
Seattle-area officials meet with Jewish groups over 'Israeli war crimes' bus ads.
Warning: 'Granny Scam' is targeting elderly.
911 dispatcher sends firefighters to wrong home.
Veteran has purse stolen during cancer treatment, faces eviction.
Elderly man arrested after his ring is found in child's underwear.
Witnesses: Malaria specialist on ski slopes punched teen girl repeatedly.
It was the elderly man losing his ring in a kid's underwear that got me.  That's a detail truly disgusting to contemplate, an image one doesn't want to entertain, a thought one wishes were unthinkable.

Music.  I need music.  A cat.  I need a cat.  Or maybe a good man. 

Where is Fred, anyway?  Last I heard, he was online researching the caustic effects of my favorite diet cola, a habit he is determined to break.

I dunno.  When the organizing principle for the glut of information available to us is our own brain, I fear for our collective mental health -- never mind all the carcinogenic opportunities in the physical realm!

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