Daily News Archives
Shows Living Near Hazardous Waste Sites Causes Respiratory Problems
(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2005) The
disease in relation to patient residence near to hazardous waste sites,”
published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology (Vol.
18, No. 3), reveals that persons who live near hazardous waste sites
containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are hospitalized more
frequently for chronic bronchitis and chronic airway obstruction.
This study looks specifically at the risks associated with exposure
to POPs through atmospheric routes such as particulates or vapor. Researchers
looked at census data and hospitalization records of populations of
people living in 257 zip codes in New York, including those on the Hudson
River with significantly higher income than the rest of the state. Ultimately,
the study concludes that the observations are consistent with the possibility
that living near a POPs-contaminated site poses a risk of exposure and
increased risk of chronic respiratory disease, probably secondary to
suppression of the immune system.
POPs are synthetic, toxic chemicals that persist in the environment,
bioaccumulate in food chains and are common contaminants in fish, dairy
products and other foods. POPs are carbon containing chemical compounds
that, to a varying degree, resist photochemical, biological and chemical
degradation. POPs are often halogenated and characterise by low water
solubility and high lipid solubility, leading, together with their persistence,
to bioacumulation in fatty tissues. They are also semi-volatile, a property
which permits these compounds either to vaporise or to be adsorbed on
atmospheric particles. They therefore undergo long range transport in
air and water from warmer to colder regions of the world. Many Americans
may now carry enough POPs in their bodies to cause subtle but serious
health effects, including reproductive and developmental problems, cancer,
and disruption of the immune system. Some indigenous communities in
the Arctic region carry particularly high levels of these contaminants.
Many POPs migrate on wind and water currents to the Arctic and bioaccumulate
in the marine food chain there, contaminating the traditional foods
of indigenous peoples.
The original 12 POPs chemicals include aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin,
dioxins, eldrin, furans, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, polychlorinated
biphenyls, and toxaphene. Earlier this month four other chemicals were
added to the list of POPs including lindane,
chlordecone and two flame retardants, pentabrominated diphenyl ether
(penta-BDE) and hexabromobiphenyl (Hexa-BB). See Beyond Pesticides'
May 18, 2005 Daily News for more information.
The POPs treaty, or Stockholm Convention, ratified on May 17, 2004 is
an attempt to reduce the impact of these persistent chemicals throughout
the world. The U.S. has yet to be among the 98 total ratifying countries.
In 2001, President Bush promised to support the treaty, but his administration
has sought to undermine it with legislation that would make it harder,
rather than easier, for EPA to comply. (See March 11, 2004 Daily
TAKE ACTION: Contact your U.S.
Representative and EPA
Administrator and tell them to enact effective legislation that
encompasses the above mentioned concerns that allows the U.S. to ratify
and participate fully in the Stockholm and Rotterdam conferences of