Friday, September 25, 2009

Calling Matt Damon!

It was with mixed emotions that I read about Matt Damon’s commitment to clean up Haiti’s water at the Clinton Global Initiative. Not that the goal of clean water for Haiti should be dismissed as frivolous. Mr. Damon has certainly chosen a worthwhile cause for his charity I simply wish our celebrities would turn their attention to clean-er water here in the USA. Americans are not dying as in the Third World, but they are developing diseases like cancer at a younger age than ever before. There are core flaws to the Toxic Substances Control Act, which exempted 76,000 chemicals, and getting any such laws changed is a challenge. American water needs our attention, too.

For one thing, we need to lobby the EPA to lower the amount of percholorate in water supplies. Ever experienced a jet plane that needed to dump its fuel? I remember being an hour from Paris once, when the pilot discovered a problem that made him turn the plane around and fly back to Charles de Gaulle. From my window seat, I could see jet fuel streaming down as we reached the continent. Cape Cod is on the approach to Logan airport. I wonder how many planes have dumped jet fuel into our waters prior to emergency landings? We need to limit percholorate in our drinking water. (Clean Water Action explains why:
• Perchlorate is a harmful chemical that the EPA claims has been found in 395 sites in 37 states, including 153 public water systems serving over 20 million people. Some estimates are even higher.
• Perchlorate, even in small amounts, can impair the thyroid gland, which controls growth, development and metabolism.
• Developing fetuses, infants and children with thyroid impairment may suffer mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech or deficits in motor skills.)

For so long no one really thought about what was in drinking water. In the city, water came from the tap and was purified. Here in the country, our water comes out of the ground, through private wells. I described our effort to stop NStar from spraying up to four herbicides under the power lines here and reported on a trip to Rep. Delahunt’s office regarding several bills about toxic chemicals here. For a dozen years I have had our water tested for nitrates. We do the test in the spring and the percentage always seems to increase. I’m now beginning to think Wellfleet water should be tested for chemicals, too.

Little by little people across rural America are realizing water resources need protection. Wellfleet's ponds are so polluted from acid rain that any fish caught should not be eaten. The Midwest has a problem with nitrates from fertilizers. Last year I read online about how surprised Chicago officials were to discover high levels of DEET in drinking water. If they have DEET in Chicago’s water, you can bet there’s DEET in Cape Cod water, with all the hikers and regular folks trying to avoid ticks and mosquitoes. When my mother passed away, hospice personnel dumped all her meds down the drain, INTO OUR AQUIFER. This is outrageous behavior, but it seems hospice officials are afraid of the drugs falling into the hands of drug addicts. (Oh, it’s better to pollute the aquifer so we all drink minute amounts of toxic chemicals? The thing is, no one knows what those minute amounts do to the human body.)

Clean Water Action Massachusetts is running a campaign to make baby products safer. If you didn’t already know this stunning fact, plastic baby bottles contain the chemical BPA, an endocrine disruptor. A former guest wrote me about safer bottles invented by a friend whose company is called Lifefactory. Lifefactory is now developing a safe bottle for adults, which will be available in December. (Hat tip to Elise!) Elise also informed me SIGG has admitted it used BPA in its bottles until last summer. (For a full account, see the post written yesterday by environmental journalist Judith Stock at Living Green, Living Well.)

This whole topic makes me feel ill and VERY frustrated. If I am becoming an activist, it is because of my granddaughter. I do not want to leave her a world that is polluted. We have PUR filters here at Chez Sven, but are they enough? DEET, nitrates, herbicides ….Matt Damon, where are you? Do something for America’s water. Here’s an invitation: stay free at Chez Sven in exchange for brainstorming on ways celebrities can be convinced to support Clean Drinking Water for America. Our activists could definitely use a little star power ….