Am I stoned?



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Artificial Turf

  • Made from “crumb rubber,” derived from recycled tire bits
  • Contains lead, mercury, arsenic, benzene, halogenated flame retardants, harmful bacteria
  • High levels of inhalational exposure among young athletes
  • New York City park officials will no longer use tire crumbs in artificial turf fields (alternative = sand-based product)

Cell phones

  • ?Link to parotid gland tumors?
  • Link to brain tumors per WHO
    • Gliomas
    • Acoustic neuromas
  • Precautionary principle – hands-free headset
    • ?Other safety benefits?

Toxic Pollutants

  • 85,000 known or suspected hazardous waste sites in the U.S.
    • Plus up to 600,000 lightly contaminated former industrial sites (“brownfields”)
  • Will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to mitigate environmental impacts

Toxic Pollutants

  • 1 in 4 U.S. citizens lives within 4 mile of a Superfund site (over 1600 sites listed; another 2,500 sites eligible)
    • ½ live within 10 miles
  • Taxpayers paying increasing share of cleanup costs
    • Overall funding decreasing

Environmental Racism and Toxic Imperialism

  • Environmental Racism
    • Polluting factories/waste dumps/incinerators more common in lower SES neighborhoods
    • “Cancer Belt” (Baton Rouge to New Orleans)
    • More cardiovascular disease
  • Toxic Imperialism
  • WHO estimates toxic chemical exposures responsible for 4.9 million deaths and 86 million DALYs in 2004

Toxic Pollutants: The Basel Convention

  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes (designed to control dumping of hazardous wastes from the industrialized world in developing countries)

Toxic Pollutants: The Basel Convention

  • Ratified by 170 countries
  • Despite being the largest producer of toxic pollutants in the world, the U.S. has signed but not ratified this agreement

Bathtub, Toilet, and Source of Drinking Water

Persistent Organic Pollutants

  • Toxic, remain in environment long-term, resist degradation, can travel long distances
  • Bioaccumulate - higher concentrations as you move up the food chain
  • Most are endocrine disruptors

Endocrine Disruptors

  • 800 known/suspected chemicals
  • Linked to:
    • Obesity
    • Insulin resistance
    • Diabetes
    • Early age of onset of puberty in young girls
      • 1860 - 16.6; 1920 – 14.6; 1950 – 13.1; 1980 – 12.5; 2010 – 10.5; 2012 – 9.9 (whites), 8.8 (blacks)
      • Boys too (9-10)

Endocrine Disruptors

  • Linked to:
    • PCOS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, premature ovarian failure, early menopause
    • Male and female reproductive tract abnormalities
    • Impaired fertility, defective sperm
    • Low birth weight, impaired fetal development and fetal anomalies

Endocrine Disruptors

  • Linked to:
    • Lower IQ
    • Increased behavioral problems
    • Multiple cancers (including breast, colon, prostate, testicular)
    • Thyroid disease
    • Neuroendocrine abnormalities
  • Epigenetic effects

Endocrine Disruptors

  • Cost U.S. economy $340 billion/yr, European economy $217 billion/yr
  • Endocrine Society, AMA, and APHA have called for policies to decrease public exposure to endocrine disruptors

Persistent Organic Pollutants

  • UN Environmental Program organizing worldwide phaseout of top 12 through the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
    • Including DDT, PCBs, and dioxins
  • U.S. has signed, but not ratified

Toxic Pollutants

  • Floriculture
  • Diamond and Gold Mining
  • Cosmetics (see www.safecosmetics.org)
  • Fragrances
  • Menstrual hygiene products
  • Scented candles
  • Nanoparticles

Tobacco – Weapon of Mass Destruction

  • Grown in more than 100 countries on over 5 million hectares of arable land
    • Which could otherwise feed 10-20 million people
  • 20-50 million trees cut down/yr to cure tobacco
  • Heavily pesticide-dependent crop
    • Tobacco industry has lobbied to weaken environmental regulations

Cigarette Litter

  • Nearly billion pounds of cigarette butts littered per year
    • 4.5 trillion butts (1.7 billion lbs)
    • Comprised largely of filters made from cellulose acetate, a non-biodegradable plastic
    • Filters trap toxins, heavy metals which can leach into environment
  • The most littered item in the world

Medical Waste

  • The 6,000 US hospitals generate 2 million tons of waste per year; clinics and doctors’ offices an additional 700,000 tons
  • 850,000 tons incinerated

Medical Waste

  • One hospital bed generates between 16 and 23 lbs/day of waste
  • Outbreak of hepatitis B in India due to black market in medical waste and supplies (2009)

Medical Waste

  • Solutions:
    • Strengthen EPA regulations
    • Segregation and alternatives to incineration would cost < $1/patient/day 80% of thermometers no longer contain mercury
    • Remove PVCs from medical supplies (e.g., IV tubing)

Medical Waste

  • Organizations:
    • Health Care Without Harm
    • Green Health Center Movement
  • NAS: Hospitals built and operated on more environmentally sound principles save money and produce better patient outcomes


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