Friday, July 15, 2005

Washington Post: Report Details Environmental Harm to Fetuses

A report by the Environmental Working Group found a staggering amount of contaminant in umbilical cords. The contaminants, which include mercury, pesticides, and fire retardants, appear to have gotten there via pollution in the mother's environment. The report was based on testing of 10 newborn babies. Several members of Congress, including Louise Slaughter from New York, are calling for new legislation to control the pollutants cited.

I think it would be helpful to have a larger set of data to get a better sense of how pervasive these chemicals are among newborns. My main question is where these pollutants enter the mother's bloodstream - e.g., is it a city problem or a suburban problem primarily? That will help answer the question of what, if anything, should our legislators do. (Good luck getting any regulatory action through the Republican-controlled Congress - even if the party is supposedly pro-life / pro-family.)

I also think this shows the importance of environmentalism. It is not just about preserving pretty places for rich people to visit in the country and preventing rare species from becoming extinct, although those are aspects of it. The environment is all around us. It is the air we breathe, the water we drink, ... and the chemicals that we absorb in the process. This affects everyone - rich or poor, city-dweller or suburbanite. As such, it really ought to be a greater political issue than it has been. Perhaps reports like this will make people wake up.