Monday, March 19, 2012

Toxic People: The Pollution Within by David Ewing Duncan, Published October 2006

The picture to the left is an X-Ray photograph of a two year old girl with lead chips in her system.

     The above link is an article I found on the National Geographic Website. The author is writing about how he grew up in a town surrounded by pollution, and how his doctors are now finding these polluting substances in his blood! His town had tons of industries and dumps right around the county water intake which supplied drinking water for him and his family. Runoff and pollution from these industries and dumps contaminated the river-and these pollutants wound up in the bodies of those who drank the water. "Factories making cars, soap, and fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals"(Duncan, 6), he says were made and used directly next to the river and water intake. The author explains how driving through this part of town was enclosed in a "noxious cloud" (Duncan, 6) of gasses and other pollution which made it hard to see or breathe. He describes how in his childhood his friends would ride bikes through the pollution, holding their breaths. Over time, however, the air pollution and especially water runoff pollution have taken their toll. His doctor has told him of some of the substances he has found in the author's blood: Lead, Mercury, Dioxins, PBDEs, PCBs, and other harmful toxins.
     Fortunately, today less pollution is in the air and less pollution is in the water we drink. Plus, water filters can be bought to take most of toxins out of tap water. This is thanks to the acts created in the 1970s such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act which work to stop pollution in places such as rivers, lakes, streams, and our breathing air. Hopefully we can keep this clean record going, and try to improve even more.

     I was shocked when I read the title of the article. I mean really, Toxic People? What could this possibly mean? But as I start to read this crazy article, I understood the scary truth. Due to the pollution in streams and rivers, as well as the air, there are people walking around that literally have what can be considered toxic blood. I sure hope my tap water is clean, because I currently do not own a water filter! If this is still going on then the industries who pollute our drinking water should be ashamed. It concerns me how some businesses will pollute other peoples' drinking water just to make a profit. Companies really need to work harder to find a better solution than dumping their pollution.
     I want to help to stop pollution in our drinking water. It is a serious concern of mine and I sure hope it is a concern of others as well. I am excited to learn about water pollution in class(the last couple days feel like we haven't been learning much, so it should be fun to learn something new) and how we can defend ourselves against it. I see it as a very important and interesting topic!

1. What does the Clean Water Act do to prevent water pollution? Can it be revised to "amp up" the standards for our drinking water?
2. Is there a simple way to tell if our tap water is polluted? And if so, will simple water filters fix this problem?
3. How can we as citizens help to limit pollution in our drinking water? Can recycling play a part in this process?
4. How many of the toxins mentioned in the article are still in use today? What are they used for?

-Aaron Selnick


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  2. Opinion/ Reflection
    Nice article Aaron! I was a little bit shocked at the title too, Toxic People...what could this be about? I wanted to immediately read it though. It is really sad that toxics are being implanted into people’s body and blood. It makes sense since he lived so close to many industries and dumps that pollution went into his system; to a certain point, however it is bad because that can become very dangerous as all of the gases build up.

    In Response to Your Questions
    3. In order to prevent pollution in our drinking water, we can be more careful of what we can recycle and put outside into the earth. If we recycle, it helps to keep the environment clean, so there will be cleaner water. When we reduce littering, especially in oceans, lakes, rivers, etc., the waters will remain cleaner. By throwing something like an empty bag of potato chips into a body of water, it will take a while to break down. Even when it does break down, sea animals could die from eating it or it could pollute their habitats.
    4. Mercury is commonly used in household things like a thermometer, a thermostat, a barometer, florescent light lamps, batteries, clothing irons (with an automatic shut off switch), and older microwave ovens. These items all contain some forms of Mercury. Lead is used in candles (the wick so they can burn longer), it is used on sailboats, it is the traditional base metal of organ pipes, and it can be used as shielding from radiation.

    When I was reading this, I immediately thought of how people of 9/11 are becoming ill ten years later because of all the debris that was inhaled. Here is an article about how rescuers of 9/11 inhaled the
    debris and ten years later it is affecting them:
    Title: NYC 9/11 Rescuers Experience Lingering Health Problems
    Author: Carol Pearson
    Publication: September 10, 2011
    As rescuers roamed through the fallen down building, they were breathing in toxic chemicals from all the debris clouds. Those clouds of dust did not affect them until ten years later. Asthma, laryngitis, rhinitis, and sinusitis are results of what happened to the rescuers of 9/11 (Pearson). Ken George, who spent 700 hours in the debris, was exposed to these toxins in the air (Pearson). He wakes up and takes 33 pills each day and says he feels like he has the lungs of n 80-year old smoker (Pearson). Ken is only 47 years old. Researchers and scientists say that they have found a 19% chance increase of cancers, and they say that this percent in increasing (Pearson).

    Think About It…
    1. Identify some ways in which we can keep bodies of water cleaner?
    2. How do you think scientists will think of ways to react faster in order to prevent polluted waters and air?

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  9. This is a very interesting article with a unique title. I cannot believe there are toxic people. David Ewing Duncan, the author, lived in a small town surrounded by pollution which came from nearby dumps and industries. Unfortunately, the pollution contaminated the water that was provided to the residents living there. This sounds so gross and disappointing. Doctors have found many harmful toxins in David’s blood, which sounds, extremely sad and very dangerous. I want to become a doctor, when I grow up and help people too. Fortunately, the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act are working to stop pollution in various water sources. I would like to do something about the pollution in our water, as well. This article reminded me of the time we tested the amount of pH in tap water during class. I can’t wait to learn more about water!

    To answer one of your questions:

    I found a website that describes ways we can limit pollution in water.
    How to Clean Up Our Water?

    Toxic products like paints, automobile oil, nail polish, and cleaning products should be stored properly and not disposed down the drain. Litter should not be thrown into streams, lakes, rivers, or seas. If you do spot trash on beaches or in water systems, help clean it up. If everyone were to recycle plastic bottles and paper, there would be less trash seen in bodies of water. We all need to use environmentally household products, as well. Planting more flowers in your garden will stop natural fertilizers, pesticides and dirty water from entering water sources. Also, actively conserve water. By just simply turning the faucet off, when you do not need running water, like while brushing your teeth can make a huge impact. Apart from preventing water shortages, it lessens the amount of water that needs to be treated.