Sunday, October 25, 2009

Join the Movement to Get Toxic Chemicals Out of Drinking Water

Wellfleet is holding a Special Town Meeting tomorrow. Citizens will vote on the placement of a wind turbine near White Crest Beach, pricey repair of Lieutenant Island Road, and transfer of town land to Outer Cape Health for the establishment of a Care Campus. Prohibition of herbicidal use in Wellfleet is not on the warrant, which is unfortunate. The Selectmen decided state and Federal law would trump any such local prohibition (and posted a document called Pesticide Issues to the town Web site). By Federal law, NStar is obligated to remove brush under the power lines. State law permits the use of herbicides. Well, perhaps it’s time to rethink these laws on Cape Cod where drinking water comes from a sole source aquifer? People search out our green bed & breakfast because we serve organic food, use non-toxic cleaners, filter drinking water. Our guests are onto something. Toxic chemicals are bad for health.

This week, in Falmouth, Eileen Gunn spoke to members of the Conservation Commission in her town. She reports, “They really had no knowledge of the whole issue or the plan for Falmouth. After I expressed issues with the soil half-lives of the five chemicals and the proximity to our drinking water wells, they became more concerned and said they would look into it.”

Sounds like education is the way to go.


Laura Kelly, of Littlefield Landscapes, sent concerned citizens a list of suggestions on alternative methods for brush control. Laura writes, "Let’s treat our land with respect, not chemicals. Families are the backbone of our land. Let’s see beyond where we are. If we are wise today, we can drink the water tomorrow.”

After my mom passed away, the hospice nurse flushed leftover meds. Those meds end up in the water we drink. I wrote the EPA several weeks ago and Jesse Meiler responded the following day: “EPA is very concerned about the detection of pharmaceuticals in our water and is working to better understand the implications of their presence in water.” Apparently the EPA is now studying the disposal of unused meds to identify alternative disposal methods and avoid flushing, which is great. During past administrations, the EPA failed its citizens, no doubt influenced by lobbyists from large chemical companies like Monsanto.

A month ago, Charles Duhigg reported in the New York Times that the weed-killer Atrazine may be more dangerous than previously thought. Pesticide use around our homes is an under-estimated source of water pollution - leading to more than 50% more water pollution than previously thought, according to scientists looking at pesticide use in residential areas in California.

There are - way - too – many – toxic chemicals – in regular use and often they cause cancer.

One of the herbicides NStar wants to use is called “Accord.” Accord has a great-sounding name: world peace and harmony comes to mind. Actually, glyphosate is a known carcinogen, a neurotoxin, an irritant, and can cause liver, kidney and reproductive damage. In recent news, glyphosate has been identified as a common chemical found in acute agricultural worker poisonings and has been linked to inter-sex frogs.

The more you dig, the more depressing this story becomes.

What can you do? Be aware. Stay informed. Spread the word. Go to Clean Water Action to write your local Congressman or Safer Chemicals, Healthier Families. The time for change is NOW! Start small: switch from Tide-like detergents to Seventh Generation. And here’s something easy and immediate: visit the Seventh Generation Web site and join the Million-Baby-Crawl to urge Congress to create regulations that will keep toxic chemicals out of the environment.