STAYING WELL IN A TOXIC WORLD
NOHA Member Lynn Lawson has written "a new millennium update" to her classic compilation of the many toxic exposures, which are causing overt illness in many people and which have deleterious health effects on all of us. (See the review in NOHA NEWS, Fall 1994.) Her impressive and most readable new book updates every chapter with many new references and most particularly with stories of real people—some tragic as well as inspiring—reporting the deaths of courageous activists. Also, there are dramatic stories and here is one that is perhaps amusing:
If you want to get rid of mice, here’s a way to do it. In 1995 Anderson Laboratories, whose earlier carpet studies were reported in Staying Well in a Toxic World (1994), found that two new carpets caused over 50 percent of exposed mice to die in less than two days.
Lawson gives many examples where industries have tried to downplay the toxic effects of their activities. She states:
"Will greed and ignorance win out in the end? No one knows, including me. I can only watch the ongoing battle, the to and fro of the forces unknowingly pushing us toward disaster and the counter forces fighting to restrain them."
"Corporate America has dug its claws into one of the last refuges of commercial-free space left in our society: public schools. One of the pillars of our democracy, public education, is now for sale."
She quotes an article, "Targeting Children," by a science teacher, who described with horror the exhibitors at the year 2000 National Science Teachers Convention. They passed out "armloads of pamphlets, packets, books, stickers, and other educational goodies . . . trying to justify everything from deforestation to extinction of species. Worse yet, they were targeting America’s teachers and, ultimately, our children. Corporate America has dug its claws into one of the last refuges of commercial-free space left in our society: public schools. One of the pillars of our democracy, public education, is now for sale."
Finally, Lawson describes third grade students in Chico California, who found that Kathy, one of their teachers, got sick every time she taught classes in the school library. She would get a headache and be "really crabby." "Using what they learned in their ToxRap curriculum, the KMAC kids (Kids Making a Connection, Health and the Environment) went sleuthing in the library. They discovered a number of possible hazards, including smelly felt pens, a copy machine near her desk, parents wearing perfume, dust (that means dust mites), chemical cleaners, a filter that needed to be changed, a smell from the carpet, and more.
"Using what they learned in their ToxRap curriculum, the KMAC kids (Kids Making a Connection, Health and the Environment) went sleuthing in the library. They discovered a number of possible hazards, including smelly felt pens, a copy machine . . . "
"To help her the KMAC kids gave Kathy a basket of nontoxic products and raised money through two bake sales to buy her an air filter for her library space." It worked and she was no longer crabby! The children wrote a charming book with the sixth graders "Crabby Kathy!" and they won a grant for K-12 environmental health education from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. <www.niehs.nih.gov.kids/kathy/home.htm>
"If these examples remind you of the Biblical story of David and Goliath, you are probably right. Just remember that David’s slingshot did fell Goliath, the menacing giant. There is a precedent."
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, Spring 2001, page 1.