Volume 4 Issue 1

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Page 51 of 63

e skull and crossbones is widely known as the universal symbol for toxicity, yet not all toxic substances are labeled in this manner – if they are labeled at all. While a container of a highly toxic substance, such as lead or arsenic, will likely bear the skull and crossbones symbol, another substance, such as drinking water, which may contain trace amounts of these toxins, will not be so marked. Likewise, even though the can of insect spray beneath your counter will include a warning on the label, the strawberries you purchased from your local supermarket will not, despite the fact that they may contain trace amounts of the same (or related) toxic compounds (a result of pesticide application to commercially grown crops). In fact, a myriad of products we use daily can harbor toxic substances that our bodies absorb little by little over time – from mattresses, magazines, and mouthwash to carpets, clothing and cosmetics. We may worry about our children falling from playground equipment and injuring themselves, but we should be more concerned about toxic levels of arsenic coming off treated wood in playground equipment. Children are more likely to be exposed to harmful levels of arsenic from play structures, picnic tables, and decks than from drinking water. In addition, other preservatives applied to the equipment so that it can withstand the outdoor elements, including chromium, copper, and pentachlorophenol (penta, or PCP for short) may also pose a serious health threat to children sensitive to these chemicals. A great deal of environmental damage was done before we began monitoring and attempting to control pollution. But even though we acknowledged a growing problem, we have not yet found a way to eliminate the release of so many toxins. Current technology can only reduce them. e United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) periodically releases a report called the Toxics Release Inventory. e EPA annually collects information on the disposal or other releases and other waste management activities for more than 650 chemicals from industrial sources in all 50 states. For 2013, the latest data collected, disposal and releases of these chemicals totaled over 4.5 billion pounds from over 23,500 United States facilities. is report shows over 1.5 billion pounds of chemicals were released via air emissions, 800 million pounds of chemicals were deposited into waste dumps, 600 million pounds of chemicals injected into underground wells, and 600 million pounds of chemicals were released into our environment via other land disposal such as spills or leaks. is discharge of chemicals impacts not only Americans, but also every single person on all seven continents. rough studies done by the National Institutes of Health, we now have reason to believe that as many as two-thirds of all cancer cases may be linked to environmental causes. The Perils of Pollutants Page 52 | Abby's Magazine -

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