Thursday, November 15, 2012

Air and Water Pollution in California Harm Vulernable Children

Majia here: Our current agricultural production regime is not sustainable because of its heavy reliance on carbon based fuel and pesticides and because of its deleterious effects including: soil depletion, water contamination, and adverse health effects.

Unfortunately, children are the canaries in this agricultural coal mine. Their afflictions should mobilize us to act now to create a safe and sustainable agricultural production system. 

As these articles demonstrate, the current system is destroying the environment and us:

The Problem Is Clear: The Water Is Filthy by P. L. Brown (2012, Nov 13)

[Excerpted] Seville, with a population of about 300, is one of dozens of predominantly Latino unincorporated communities in the Central Valley plagued for decades by contaminated drinking water. It is the grim result of more than half a century in which chemical fertilizers, animal wastes, pesticides and other substances have infiltrated aquifers, seeping into the groundwater and eventually into the tap. An estimated 20 percent of small public water systems in Tulare County are unable to meet safe nitrate levels, according to a United Nations representative....

Here in Tulare County, one of the country’s leading dairy producers, where animal waste lagoons penetrate the air and soil, most residents rely on groundwater as the source for drinking water. A study by the University of California, Davis, this year estimated that 254,000 people in the Tulare Basin and Salinas Valley, prime agricultural regions with about 2.6 million residents, were at risk for nitrate contamination of their drinking water. Nitrates have been linked to thyroid disease and make infants susceptible to “blue baby syndrome,” a potentially fatal condition that interferes with the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen. 

In California, Agriculture Takes Center Stage in Pollution Debate
By Juliet Eilperin Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, September 26, 2005; A01

[Excerpted[ RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- On a clear day, San Joaquin looks like a bucolic farming community, complete with almond groves, cornfields and orange trees. But most of the time the valley -- trapped between the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Ranges, with two major highways running north to south through it -- is smoggy, filled with air that has fostered widespread respiratory disease.

Fifteen percent of the region's children have asthma, a rate three times the national average. Fresno -- the valley's biggest city -- has the third-highest rate of asthma in the country, and the San Joaquin Valley rivals Los Angeles and Houston for the dubious title of worst air quality in the nation. On bad air days, some schools hoist a red flag so parents can keep their children indoors; on good days, they raise a green flag.

In the Washington area, farms account for more than 30 percent of the pollutants that cause "dead zones" in the Chesapeake Bay -- where algae blooms deplete the oxygen, and fish and crabs cannot breathe. Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania have all tried to make farmers reduce the amount of fertilizer and manure washing off their fields. But environmentalists say their efforts, including pollution caps on some large farms, are not enough.

Pesticide-Induced Diseases: Learning/Developmental Disorders

[Excerpted] Roughly one in six children in the U.S. has one or more developmental disabilities, ranging from a learning disability to a serious behavioral or emotional disorder. Scientists believe that the amount of toxic chemicals in the environment that cause developmental and neurological damage are contributing to the rise of physical and mental effects being found in children. Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage. In the U.S., requirements for testing pesticides and other chemicals for potential developmental and learning disorders are minimal.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (from Beyond Pesticides)


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