Tags

, ,

Quoted from Living Downstream:

DDT, lindane, aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, heptachlor. These names, unfamiliar to us now, are a roll call of the pesticides Rachel Carson featured in Silent Spring. All have links to cancer in at least some studies. All are now prohibited or heavily restricted for domestic use. Lindane was banned for most uses in 1983 and banned entirely in 2006, although a controversial exemption allows its ongoing use as a treatment for lice and scabies. And yet a chemical company in my hometown released several pounds of lindane into the air in 1992 and dumped several more pounds into the sewer system. I know this because federal right-to-know laws make such events public information. Thus, lindane appears in the 1992 federal government’s Toxics Release Inventory for Tazewell County. I was stunned to discover it there as I scanned the electronic list that documents emissions, dumpings, and transfers of toxic chemicals. Lindane has been associated in several studies with cancers of the lymph system.

Aldrin and dieldrin were banned in 1975, although aldrin was allowed as a termite poison until 1987. Aldrin converts to dieldrin in soil and inside our tissues. Dieldrin suppresses the immune system and produces abnormal brain waves in mammals. As late as 1986, dieldrin was still turning up in milk supplies because the soils of hayfields sprayed more than a decade earlier remained contaminated. Most agricultural uses of chlordane in the United States were ended in 1980 and heptachlor in 1983. Both have been linked to leukemia and certain childhood cancers.

For those of us born in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, the time between the widespread dissemination of these pesticides and their subsequent prohibition represent our prenatal periods, infancies, childhoods, and teenage years. We were certainly the first generation to eat synthetic pesticides in our pureed vegetables. By 1950, residue-free produce was so scarce that the Beech-Nut Packing Company began allowing detectable levels of residue in baby food.

Steingraber, Sandra. Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment (pp. 9-10). Da Capo Press. Kindle Edition.

Advertisements