Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Could I Please Order a Water and Flame Retardant?

Researchers have found that four-fifths of 139 waterways across the United States that provide drinking water for many of our cities contain traces of medicine, flame-retardant and other toxins. Companies that sell bottled water get their water from some of these waterways, too. So, whether you get drinking water from the tap or bottled water, you're also drinking chemicals such as flame retardant and medicine such as zoloft, xanax and birth control pills (remember, a percentage of what goes in your body, eventually comes out). Some other chemicals found in drinking water are stain protection chemicals for fabrics, oil, transmission fluid, lawn chemicals, pesticides, and other toxins that have washed down from fields, streets, yards and driveways into storm drains, rivers and lakes.

In one of these waterways, the Potomac River, a water source for many in Virginia, greater than 80% of male small-mouthed bass grow eggs. Yes, males growing eggs. Salmon in northwest rivers are dying. Scientists believe it's because chemical toxins in the water reduce their sense of smell. This may impede their recognition of predators, as well as their ability to find food and locate their spawning grounds. Some of us are also drinking and bathing in the same water, including water coming out of our water taps or in bottled water. For humans, up to and around 56% of what you put on your skin (including make-up and lotions) enters your bloodstream and goes straight to your major body organs. So, this is not just all about drinking your water, either.

Water doesn't usually stay in one place. As for how quickly these toxins can spread through water, I'm going to give one example. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground, spilling oil. For three days, Exxon did nothing to remediate the spill and the oil remained within Prince William Sound, only through the luck of good weather. Then there was a storm and, in less than a week, the oil spread out of the sound and onto beaches approximately 3200 miles away.

Exxon isn't the only corporation to pollute our planet. Businesses use 90% of our potable water, a large percentage of this in the manufacturing process, as well as in many types of energy production. All of us are partly to blame, however, because we use or consume what they produce. Food, drink, clothing, and many other types of products we use, drive and live in are all produced with water. All contribute to polluting the water you drink, with which you cook, and in which you bathe and play.

So, here are some thoughts. Think about your needs and wants in relation to how they affect our environment. Then make changes in how you live and what you consume. Follow the the three R's: reduce, reuse, recycle. If you ingest it, put it on your skin, or put anything on any surface that might wash away or evaporate, maybe you should think about drinking it, too. After all, you will, eventually. So will your children, relatives, friends, pets, and every other living thing.

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