Company in New Hampshire knew of toxic poisoning and failed to act

Recently, I have written several posts about the poisoning in groundwater by companies who use these forever chemicals referred to by their acronym of PFAS. Dupont was highlighted in the movie “Dark Waters” about the true story surrounding their making of Teflon in a West Virginia plant, where they denied for years what they admitted knowing in their files. In short, PFAS (or per and polyfluorinated substances) “is a harmful manmade set of chemicals that don’t break down in the environment and can cause medical issues like some cancers if consumed enough.” See the fact sheet below from the CDC.

In an article in The Guardian yesterday by Tom Perkins called “‘They all knew’: textile company misled regulators about use of toxic PFAS, documents show,” we learned that Dupont was not the only company to hide the fact the making of and disposal of waste from their product was causing major health concerns in adults and children in the area. Here are a few paragraphs from the article that can be linked to below.

“A French industrial fabric producer that poisoned drinking water supplies with PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ across 65 sq miles (168 sq km) of southern New Hampshire misled regulators about the amount of toxic substance it used, a group of state lawmakers and public health advocates charge.

The company, Saint Gobain, now admits it used far more PFAS than regulators previously knew, and officials fear thousands more residents outside the contamination zone’s boundaries may be drinking tainted water in a region plagued by cancer clusters and other health problems thought to stem from PFAS pollution.

Saint Gobain in 2018 agreed to provide clean drinking water in the 65-sq-mile area as part of a consent agreement with New Hampshire regulators, and damning evidence suggesting it used more PFAS than previously admitted surfaced in a trove of documents released in a separate class-action lawsuit.

‘People are sick, there are really high cancer rates and people literally have died, so when you see what’s happening and the company acts like this – it’s really upsetting,’ said Mindi Messmer, a former state representative who analyzed the documents and sent them to the New Hampshire attorney general and state regulators.

Saint Gobain has denied wrongdoing. PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 12,000 chemicals used across dozens of industries to make products resist water, stains and heat. The highly toxic compounds don’t naturally break down, and are linked to cancer, thyroid disease, kidney problems, decreased immunity, birth defects and other serious health problems. They have been called ‘forever chemicals’ due to their longevity in the environment.

Saint Gobain Performance Plastics’ Merrimack, New Hampshire, plant had for decades treated its products with PFOA, one type of PFAS, to make them stronger. The company released PFOA from its smokestacks and the chemicals, once on the ground, moved through the soil and into aquifers. Hundreds of residential and municipal wells pull from the groundwater.

Please look through the CDC Fact Sheet below. If you have not seen “Dark Waters,” please watch it as it shows how Dupont knew and covered up their poisoning of others, then was shown verified causal data from the largest sampling of people in a scientific study and reneged on an offer to help and then lost successive lawsuits before they settled the remaining cases in a class action. I am sure there are some theatrics in the movie, but over all the movie will disgust you that leaders of a company could be so brazen. And, stop using Teflon cookware as their poison resides within many of us if we did.

Companies must be held to account. Leaders must be held to account. And, it cannot be so rarely done, that they make a movie out of the effort. Rob Bilott, the attorney who fought Dupont and Erin Brockovich cannot be the only folks recognized for fighting these battles.

https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/PFAS_FactSheet.html

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/05/saint-gobain-textile-company-toxic-pfas

Top of mind issues that aren’t

Issues that need to be top of mind aren’t being discussed because we would rather talk about more exaggerated and contrived issues.

The global water crisis lives here, especially in drought prone areas like the Southwest United States, which is running dangerously low on water. Climate change only makes matters worse. And, this is even before we speak of the lead water pipe structures which have their own set of toxic issues as in Flint, Michigan.

Miami is the most at risk city in the world for encroaching sea levels due to climate change, but the governor calls more dramatic solutions liberal based ideas. Miami has built right to the coast and the limestone guarding the largest aquifer is porous. The fact the number of sunny days flooding has increased with sea water coming up through the street drains in Miami Beach should give people pause. Call me crazy, but when you are surrounded on three sides by sea water as Florida is, climate change should be a huge issue.

Toxins in our environment due to manufacturing run off of chemicals or middle of the night storage elsewhere are causing bell weather cancers years later. The water at Camp Lejeune in NC has been killing and making Marines, their spouses and their children sick for decades and yet we are still screwing around with a decision. Thank you for your service, just don’t drink the water. Recent stories on environmental cancers from Teflon and Round-up chemicals also continue to get press.

Dr. Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist, biologist, author and speaker (who has testified to Congress and the EU Parliament), spoke at an event I attended. She noted our tests are designed for a 50 year-old man, but we really should be testing for children. Our children have lungs and brains that are not fully developed, they have lesser body weight and are closer to the ground, they mouth breath more and they touch things more and put their hands in their mouths. They are easy targets for toxins to poison them.

I want people to remember her words. She added some hope, though. When we act in a serious manner we can fix things. She used the example of the Rabies vaccine, as she and her son were exposed. Rabies is a horrible way to die and it only takes a bite. But, we long ago created a series of vaccines that prevent Rabies, even if exposed. We learned and acted. She said that is a lesson that we should follow on dealing with other environmental issues – learn and act whether it’s getting rid of arsenic on playground equipment, removing asbestos out of building materials or knowing how to handle PVC pipes in a closed environment.

People matter. Children matter. Short term profits matter less than human life. I would argue companies that aggressively act to fix things will do better with long term profits due to goodwill.* Let’s act like parents and grandparents in governing what is needed. Let’s shine a spotlight on legislators and business leaders who do not.

*Years ago, Dow Chemical had a huge chemical spill in India. Because of their reputation as a good community citizen and by acting quickly to fix things, the long-term profits of the company did not suffer. The same held true with Johnson and Johnson, the makers of Tylenol after product tampering incidents killed some people. They acted quickly to fix things and we now have tamper identifying bottles.

The death of honeybees and the Precautionary Principle – a needed reprise

In my last post on the existence of glyphosate in the urine of 80% of the random tested individuals, I mentioned the Precautionary Principle. A huge part of these stories on chemicals being found within us is a long time cover up by their makers, whether it be Round-up, Teflon, or some other product, that these chemicals are harmful to people. It reminded me of a story on the impact of neonicotinoids on honeybees, a major pollinator I wrote in 2013. Here it is.

There was a story by Michael Vines of the New York Times this weekend entitled “Soaring honeybee deaths renew alarm.” I first learned of this story about a year ago on “Real Time with Bill Maher” regarding the major decline in honeybee populations. Apparently since 2005, there has been a major colony collapse epidemic where beekeepers are losing 40% to 50% of their bee populations. For some the number is as high as 80% loss. A more normative number is under 10%. While conclusive evidence is not known, per Vines’ article researchers say “there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor.”

“The pesticide industry disputes that. But, its representatives also say they are open to further studies to clarify what, if anything, is happening.” This may sound all well and good, but this is a very common stalling tactic which allows industry to keep doing what they are doing for years on end, until the evidence is so overwhelming, they need to cease the detrimental action. At that time, it is too late for many, in this case the bees. But, we also need to remember, that bees cross-pollinate many things. If the bee population dies off, it is not just the loss of honey we are talking about. The Department of Agriculture says “a quarter of the US diet, including apples, cherries, watermelons, and onions, depends on pollination by honeybees.”

Vines notes that “many beekeepers suspect the biggest culprit is the growing soup of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides used to control pests.” Since, beekeepers usually have their bees close to plants they want to feed the bees, they have a better sense of what is different about the surrounding areas. Plus, it may be multiple things precipitated by global warming, where more droughts are occurring in some areas.

But, let me stop at this point and reference a post I made last year called “The Precautionary Principle.”  This issue of what is causing the demise of bees is similar to all other potentially toxic actions where we as a country take a contrary view on how we must investigate links between potentially detrimental actions which may be causing toxic results. I will repeat some of that post below, but encourage you to read the entire post written on June 8, 2012, as it applies to all man-made threats to the environment and people.

The Precautionary Principle (excerpts from June 8, 2012)

We are at a crossroads in our country and on our planet. We must all become better stewards with the environment and address these issues today and in the future. The business side of energy retrieval and production along side the development of mass-produced products made out of or enhanced by petro-chemicals have placed our planet in a precarious position. For the longest time, these industries have been able to delay addressing issues citing the data is not conclusive or shows causality. Proof or true causality oftentimes takes thirty years or more. In the interim, the data can show a high correlation that an activity is leading to a problem. For those who did not take statistics, correlation means things rise and fall together.

In the US, we place the burden of proof on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and like agencies who govern other areas of commerce. Other countries have a variation of the EPA.  In some countries that burden resides with the developer to show that something is not toxic or harmful to others. Several scientists and concerned citizens got together at Wingspread in Canada to discuss these issues. One of the tenets of that meeting can be summed up by a statement made by Bradford Hill, a medical statistician and inventor of the randomized clinical trial, back in 1965:

“All scientific work is incomplete – whether it be observational or experimental. All scientific work is liable to be upset or modified by advancing knowledge. That does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have or postpone the action that it appears to demand at a given time.”

In short, we should not wait to do something later if the evidence is telling us something is amiss now. With toxic chemicals, for example, if you wait to fully prove something is bad, the damage is already done. Especially when you are dealing with children who are still developing and breathe in more than adults.

The group at Wingspread developed the following Precautionary Principle

“When an activity raises threat of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context, the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.”

The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action,” noted Dr. Sandra Steingraber in her book “Living Downstream – An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment.” In this book and her second book called “Raising Elijah” she notes industry has tended to stiff arm science to continue to conduct practices that are harmful to the environment and people. The democratic process she references is hard to conduct, when so much money is at stake.

The dilemma we face as a planet is there is a lot of money to be had in developing energy and chemical products from fossil fuels. As a result, the industry supports a lot of politicians with a lot of money and lobbying efforts. Yet, we must diminish our reliance on fossil fuels, we must understand the impact of petro-chemicals on our environment and people and we must put the burden of proof that an activity is not harmful on the purveyor of that activity beforehand and throughout. In the meantime, if anyone says we should do away with the EPA, for you, me and our children, tell them that is the dumbest idea you have ever heard and would be poor stewardship of our planet. Please help advocate the Precautionary Principle as well.

A herbicide lives inside of us

A very alarming article called “‘Disturbing’: weedkiller ingredient tied to cancer found in 80% of US urine samples” by Carey Gillam in The Guardian is must reading for us all. The article can be linked to below, but here are the first few paragraphs that sound the bell.

“More than 80% of urine samples drawn from children and adults in a US health study contained a weedkilling chemical linked to cancer, a finding scientists have called ‘disturbing and concerning’.

The report by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that out of 2,310 urine samples, taken from a group of Americans intended to be representative of the US population, 1,885 were laced with detectable traces of glyphosate. This is the active ingredient in herbicides sold around the world, including the widely used Roundup brand. Almost a third of the participants were children ranging from six to 18.

Academics and private researchers have been noting high levels of the herbicide glyphosate in analyses of human urine samples for years. But the CDC has only recently started examining the extent of human exposure to glyphosate in the US, and its work comes at a time of mounting concerns and controversy over how pesticides in food and water impact human and environmental health.

‘I expect that the realization that most of us have glyphosate in our urine will be disturbing to many people,’ said Lianne Sheppard, professor at the University of Washington’s department of environmental and occupational health sciences. Thanks to the new research, ‘we know that a large fraction of the population has it in urine. Many people will be thinking about whether that includes them.’

Sheppard co-authored a 2019 analysis that found glyphosate exposure increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and also co-authored a 2019 scientific paper that reviewed 19 studies documenting glyphosate in human urine.

If you are a homeowner in the US and abroad, you have likely used a weedkiller, even Roundup, on those pesky weeds. We have. So, that would likely mean we are candidates to be in the 80% category of the above statistic not the 20% one.

This disturbing statistic reminds me of the movie “Dark Waters” where the factories that made Teflon existed, the workers and their families and citizens that lived close by had high degrees of cancers and other abnormalities. Yet, the other statistic cited by this true story, is the chemicals in Teflon are forever chemicals. And, a substantial percentage of humans likely have these chemicals in their bodies from use of the product.

Dr. Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist, biologist and bladder cancer survivor noted in her books and speeches to Congress and the European Parliament that we do not emphasize enough the environmental causes of cancer. When we do, they make movies out of the hard fight to expose the Dupont’s, Monsanto’s and Pacific Gas and Electric’s of the world for poisoning our environment. She also notes, we need to test more for the impact on kids (as done in this urine sampling). Kids’ lungs and brains are not fully developed until they become adults, they put hand to mouth more after touching things, they mouth breathe more, and they are lower to the ground. As these toxins spread onto things, the kids become infected faster and more frequently than an average adult. It should be noted that for the longest while, outdoor playground equipment was treated with an insecticide that was made of arsenic.

We must insist companies follow the “precautionary principle” meaning if they know of a problem, they need to stop and test it before going on. They cannot cover it up which is an even worse crime. People died because of these chemicals. People died because of the cover-ups.

Per a website called organiconsumers.org the following blurb can be found:

“Monsanto has falsified data on Roundup’s safety, and marketed it to parks departments and consumers as ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘biodegradable,’ to encourage its use it on roadsides, playgrounds, golf courses, schoolyards, lawns and home gardens. A French court ruled those marketing claims amounted to false advertising.”

This finding is supported by this piece from the Sierraclub.org:

“The internal communications made clear that Monsanto—the company that created saccharine and went on to develop DDT and Agent Orange—was not only aware that independent scientific studies had found that its blockbuster weed killer, Roundup, and the primary ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, were probably carcinogenic and harmful to human health, but the company had also tried to bury the findings.”

In another blaring example of this, per “Dark Waters,” Dupont moved pregnant women off the Teflon line as they knew of the danger but did not tell them why. And, they did not tell the public what they knew. And, after the largest data-driven sampling was conducted proving the risk to the public, Dupont reneged on its offer to help people if the study found them at fault. Then Dupont lost every individual lawsuit for millions of dollars until they realized they needed to settle.

So, if you have these chemicals in your body, do some research on what, if anything, you can do about it. For the future, avoid the weedkillers, use masks when handling chemicals and throw out all of your Teflon plated cookware. And, per Steingraber, bladder cancer is a bell weather cancer. If someone you know he gets it, the cause is usually environmental related. If you don’t follow-up, you are risking your and your family’s lives.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jul/09/weedkiller-glyphosate-cdc-study-urine-samples

My tribe is America, my race is human and my home is Earth

Tribal politics will bring down America’s democracy if we let it. It has already caused one of its two major parties to become adrift, untethered to truth and lawfulness. While I can disagree with Democrats on various policies, Republicans are just not often in the same ballpark as the facts and seemingly do not care. We need them to care or step aside and let a new party form. A party cannot vilify its truth tellers and aggrandize its liars and be credible. Both parties lie, but what I see as an Independent is a tipped scale to the right.

My tribe is America, my race is human and my home is Earth. Each of those are important. If we do not give each of these elements proper footing, then we increase our chances of our demise. Those apocalyptic films use a desert like Earth that became that way due to nuclear holocaust. We are destined to be that way, but it will be due to insufficient water and food resources for the population.

There are more autocratic governments who are cleverly aiding and abetting the demise of democracy. With social media and conspiracy minded zealots, it is like shooting fish in a barrel to wind up America (or British) toy soldiers and point them at each other. We should never forget this is what Vladimir Putin was trained to do in the KBG – disinformation tactics. He had no idea at the time how much easier his skill set could be deployed.

Democracy requires an informed public. Even before the rise of the last president, the most untruthful person to ever inhabit the White House, there has been an orchestrated attack on mainstream media and institutions. These groups are not perfect, but they have been painted with broad and narrow brushes to mask their effectiveness. Fear sells. Facts are boring. Competence is boring. As Putin and Hitler knew, people can be made to believe just about anything. Or, at the very least, be taught to doubt it.

So, we Americans and other citizens, must do our part and become more informed. We must use multiple sources of information and avoid getting news from social media. I try to be accurate, but what I write is not news, so please verify everything you read here. Over time I have learned there are sources that have more veracity than others, but we must do our part to be informed. I grow tired of party leaders telling me something did not happen that just happened or whitewashing history.

We have infrastructure needs in America that are ten years over due. Yet, the last president is attempting to not have an infrastructure bill passed because it will make the other party look good. The fact he passed on doing something on infrastructure after campaign promises seems to get overlooked. America needs these improvement and Americans support the effort in the majority. Our tribe needs to see this happen before the next train derails or automobile bridge collapses.

Yet, our human race is critical. We all bleed red. We all want safety and security. Most of us want some form of community, either friends and family. But, if we do not take care of our planet, it will have a harder time taking care of us. All of us. Climate change has already reared its ugly head and we are seeing the cost of worsening conditions in money, health and lives. Many of our ocean fish have particles of plastic in their bodies which we, in turn, will digest. Chemicals have been tainting and poisoning our water supplies and air for some time.

For elected officials to do nothing or as little as possible to remedy these issues. is beyond poor stewardship. In my view, it is malfeasance. The story (captured in the movie “Dark Waters”) of Dupont poisoning its workers, their families and other citizens surrounding a plant that made Teflon is bad enough. This was proven in court with the largest data trove ever assembled. What unnerved me the most is they knew it long before per memos and reports in their own files. And, when they lost the arbitration based on this mountain of “causal data” they reneged on the deal and had to be sued one case at a time before settling all claims after losing the first three.

Tribe – America. Race – human. Home – Earth. Let’s stop the BS and start solving our real problems. As the old Fram oil filter commercial used to say, “You can pay me now, our pay me later.” Let’s install those oil filters now in this old car or it will stop working and we won’t be able to get anywhere in it.