Friday, September 28, 2007

Chemical Industry Just As Deadly As Tobacco?

According to a Slate report, “a new book argues that chemical waste is as much to blame for cancer as smoking.” Makes sense to me, even without much explanation. Sorry to sound like such a gullible idiot, but doesn’t it? The problem is how do you prove it? How could you possibly show that one particular chemical, or group of chemicals, among so many in our environment are killers? “The Secret History of the War on Cancer” by Devra Davis is an attempt to do that.

In the book, Davis uncovers “exposure-related cancers, decades of incriminating research, and cover-ups by the chemical industry.” She also demonstrates how the chemical industry is using the same approach as the tobacco industry used to keep critics marginalized, and public opinion confused. This despite the facts according to the Slate report. “There is now a substantial body of evidence, obtained through research funded outside the war on cancer, suggesting that industry has managed to obfuscate the carcinogenic dangers of chemical and other toxic waste.”

My sense is that a fight like this could only be won by activists taking on a single chemical at a time, or a strong central government stepping in to twist some arms. But on both fronts, Davis finds, there are serious challenges. When it comes to activism, who’s going to step up to the plate? Who cares? People usually don’t care about anything until it happens to them. And when cancer happen, people don’t care about the causes, they care about the cure. This country is obsessed with cures, and it seems to have given polluter a free ticket to do their dirtiest.

As far as the government, for reasons that are easy to see (money, for example), they’re complicit in the killing. One example given by Davis is a Pennsylvania town where incriminating findings that probably would, should have closed a coke plant and put management (I think) on trial for murder were “squelched by the state's Department of Environmental Protection.”

Sure. Try these people for Murder 1. Give the consequences some teeth. Paying fines doesn’t seem to do a whole lot. How many tobacco companies have closed since it’s been proven they’ve been strengthening the addictive properties of their product while covering up evidence that these products kill?

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Pound360 Archive

About Me

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.