More at Stake

Last Spring I went to an event for Environment California to become more aware and educated on the effects of our environment. I've always been an active contributor and assisted in little ways here and there, but this time I had more at stake. I was around five months pregnant and concerned about the health of my new baby. Today as I write this, I'm waiting for the arrival of my baby due any moment.

At the event I heard about the usual horrifying topics of concern like lack of clean air and the rise of asthma among children, global climate change, and the frightening rise of mercury in our waterways and fish. When the discussion led to rocket fuel contamination in the Colorado River, I began to feel the sorrow of helplessness rising deep in my core and then rage set in. Of course my hormonal pregnant state could have been a contributing factor, but I don't think one needs to be a mother to feel outraged by the idea that our drinking and bathing water, and the water used to grow our produce, is dangerously contaminated because a powerful company doesn't want to spend the money on finding another alternative to dumping rocket fuel.

California water is already horribly polluted by chromium 6 and arsenic. With the addition of perchlorate our future children will be the ones to suffer. Perchlorate can interfere with the working of the thyroid gland, which is essential to normal brain development in children. An abnormal level of hormones produced by the thyroid gland has been linked to conditions like Attention Deficit Disorder and learning disabilities. Massachusetts regulators have suggested one part per billion as a safer threshold to protect babies. When adjusted to protect infants recent EPA and National Sciences studies point to the same.

Before coming to the event I had assumed that breast feeding would at least supply my baby with the most pure and essential nutrients for a healthy life. That was the case until a January study released by Texas Tech University found perchlorate in the milk of nursing mothers. In addition, polluted water from the Colorado River used to recharge aquifers is the suspected source of perchlorate contamination in Orange County. Contaminated water is also currently used to irrigate most of the nations winter crops. Tests conducted by the US department of agriculture have detected perchlorate in lettuce all of over the country.

So what can be done to get Kerr McGee, the company responsible for the dumping, to clean up millions of pounds of rocket fuel it has leaked in to the river? We can urge our governor to set new limits on these companies. The Schwarzeneggar administration is moving towards proposing its final standard for perchlorate in drinking water this fall. Of course powerful interest groups are pressing officials to delay action, but I truly hope for the sake of the new life that I'm carrying, and on behalf of life in general, that our governor shows both his strength and wisdom