Cancer

One Community’s Fight for Clean Air in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley

Denka's chloroprene plant in Louisiana

It doesn’t take carefully calibrated measurements to realize there is something wrong with the air around the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. 

From a small plane, I photographed the petrochemical manufacturing facility, until recently owned by DuPont, noting its proximity to the community around its fence line. The emissions were horrible. Breathing them while circling the plant twice left me with a headache that lingered for hours.

The surrounding communities and I were inhaling emissions of chloroprene and 28 other chemicals, which the plant uses to make the synthetic rubber commonly known as Neoprene.

Unsealed Court Documents Suggest Collusion Between Monsanto, EPA to Pollute Science

Bottles of Roundup herbicide on a store shelf

Agrichemical giant Monsanto is currently facing lawsuits from people who claim that exposure to the company’s blockbuster product Roundup has caused cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers of the blood. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is the suspected culprit. Roundup is the most widely used herbicide on the planet right now.

As part of this ongoing litigation, Judge Vince Chhabria has unsealed some of the documents that have been filed with the court. These documents appear to show that Monsanto had numerous contacts with regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the time that the agency was supposed to be investigating the link between Roundup and certain cancers.

Study Finds Connection Between Living Near Oil and Gas Development and Childhood Leukemia

oil derrick in a field in Colorado

With the rise of new technologies like fracking and horizontal drilling, oil and gas development in the United States has exploded over the past 15 years. As development expands, it’s also pushing ever closer into areas where people live. It’s been estimated that today more than 15 million Americans live within one mile of oil and gas development.

The drilling process, of course, has the potential to emit toxic substances, including the carcinogen benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and diesel exhaust, into the surrounding air and waterways. But researchers have long been trying to determine to what extent oil and gas drilling operations may threaten public health, particularly around cancer risk.

However, new research suggests that childen living in areas of high-density oil and gas development may face increased risk of health impacts, namely a certain type of leukemia, as a result of their exposure to pollutants associated with this activity.

Document Dump: Lawsuit Reveals Extent Of DuPont’s C8 Cover Up

DuPont, Ohio River, C8, Teflon, Lawsuit, Poisoning, Legal, Mike Papantonio, C6, The Intercept, Case, Cancer

Corporate heavyweight DuPont is back in court right now, defending their decision to poison entire communities along the Ohio River by releasing a toxic chemical known as C8 into the river. C8 is a chemical that is used in the manufacturing of the company’s blockbuster product Teflon.

The case alleges that DuPont officials were intimately aware of the dangerous side effects of C-8 exposure but still decided to allow exposure among workers and by releasing the chemical into the environment.

Once the chemicals were dumped into the Ohio River, they seeped into the water supplies of nearby communities, resulting in thousands of people being exposed to dangerous levels of C8. Complicating the exposure problem is the fact that C8 is biopersistent, meaning that it does not break down in the body or in the environment, and instead continues to build as exposure increases.

High Levels of Chemicals Found in People Living Near Gas Wells: New Report

Chemicals from gas wells were discovered in biological samples drawn from residents of Pavillion, Wyoming, at levels as much as ten times the national averages, according to a new report. The study is the first to sample both the air near drilling sites and the levels of chemicals in people living and working near those wells, allowing researchers to study the ways that toxic air pollutants are entering people's bodies near gas wells and putting their health at risk.

The researchers found evidence of 16 potentially dangerous chemicals in 11 individuals who volunteered to participate in the study by wearing air monitors and providing blood and urine samples. They found benzene, toluene, 2-heptanone, 4 heptanone and evidence of roughly a dozen other substances — including some known to be quite dangerous and others for which little safety information is available.

Corporate Media Confuses Consumers About Dangers Of Monsanto’s RoundUp

Last year, a panel from the World Health Organization (WHO) came to the conclusion that glyphosate, the main chemical component of Monsanto’s popular weed killer commercially known as RoundUp, was a “probable carcinogen.” The WHO decision was based on the mounting scientific evidence that proved the chemical caused cancer in lab animals, in addition to countless other conditions.

But a few days ago, a WHO panel with the United Nations published a report that appeared to conclude that there was no link between glyphosate and cancer. At least that’s how the media interpreted the findings:

Six Years After Deepwater Horizon: Time For Serious Action

BP oil disaster by Julie Dermansky

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 will mark the six-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that claimed the lives of eleven men and caused the largest man-made oil spill in history.

The cleanup crews abandoned the Gulf Coast years ago, claiming that the damage from the spill was “gone” and the media quit paying attention shortly after the wellhead was capped at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite the lack of attention paid to the Gulf region in recent years, the lasting damage of the oil spill is something that remains fresh on the minds of everyone that calls this area home.

DuPont Has Quietly Replaced One Deadly Toxin With Another

In early October 2015, a jury awarded $1.6 million to Carla Bartlett after attorneys presented ample evidence to prove that a kidney tumor that Ms. Bartlett had developed was a result of ingesting a chemical known as C8. The chemical was discharged into the Ohio River by DuPont, and it was used for decades as a chemical in the development of Teflon.
 

Coal Ash Coming To Groundwater Supplies Near You! Thank Your Congress

Congress adjourned at the end of this week for their annual August vacation, and as usual, they used this last week of July to push their most extreme anti-environment legislation.

One of the main goals of the industry-funded House of Representatives is to loosen coal ash rules before they go into effect in October, and that’s exactly what the House did last week.

China’s Disastrous Pollution Problem Is A Lesson For All

V.T. Polywoda via Flickr CC

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

Beijing’s 21 million residents live in a toxic fog of particulate matter, ozone, sulphur dioxide, mercury, cadmium, lead and other contaminants, mainly caused by factories and coal burning. Schools and workplaces regularly shut down when pollution exceeds hazardous levels. People have exchanged paper and cotton masks for more elaborate, filtered respirators. Cancer has become the leading cause of death in the city and throughout the country.

Chinese authorities, often reluctant to admit to the extent of any problem, can no longer deny the catastrophic consequences of rampant industrial activity and inadequate regulations. According to Bloomberg News, Beijing’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that, although life expectancy doubled from 1949 to 2011, “the average 18-year-old Beijinger today should prepare to spend as much as 40 percent of those remaining, long years in less than full health, suffering from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis, among other ailments.”

China’s government also estimates that air pollution prematurely kills from 350,000 to 500,000 residents every year.* Water and soil pollution are also severe throughout China.

The documentary film Under the Dome, by Chinese journalist Chai Jing, shows the extent of the air problem. The film was viewed by more than 150 million Chinese in its first few days, apparently with government approval. Later it was censored, showing how conflicted authorities are over the problem and its possible solutions. The pollution problem also demonstrates the ongoing global conflict between economic priorities and human and environmental health.

Rather than seeing China’s situation as a warning, many people in Canada and the U.S. — including in government — refuse to believe we could end up in a similar situation here. And so U.S. politicians fight to block pollution-control regulations and even to remove the power of the Environmental Protection Agency, or shut it down altogether! In Canada, politicians and pundits argue that environmental protection is too costly and that the economy takes precedence.

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