Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Make Drinking Water Dirty Again - Trump's Plan To Propel The Economy While Increasing Cancers

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The Trump's administration's revocation of clean water  rules (often  mistakenly cited as "Obama era" by the corporo-media)  has to be one of the most destructive actions in decades.   All in a claimed move to further weaken the "administrative state" but in this case making it easier to foul our water supply. This despite the fact that - from 9 years ago - the EPA established that 20 percent of the nation's 50,000 fresh water lakes surveyed had been affected by phosphorus and nitrogen pollution.  The latter form causing algal blooms and many serious health problems.

So now the reckless Trump cabal wants to make it much worse, and sicken millions more Americans.

One of the most insidious chemical carcinogens permeating our water and air is arsenic - chemical symbol: As.  (Check your periodic table.) Arsenic in food deserves some special concern, and yet there are no regulations limiting it. In addition to arsenic used in industry that finds its way onto farms, there is arsenic used in agriculture that the farmers themselves bring to their farms, a practice almost dating back to the Civil War. So no surprise farmers were jubilant when Trump rolled back Obama's rules on it.

How so? One of Trump's attacks on the regulatory state was to allow power plants to dump more arsenic, lead, as well as mercury, into the water.  We already know the risks of the last two in terms of retarding intellectual development, as the horrific case of lead pollution Flint's water showed.

As for arsenic, once in the environment, it doesn't break down and go away as do some toxins. So much arsenic has already been sprayed on farms over decades that it got into the environment for good, massively infiltrating our food and water. U.S. limits on arsenic in drinking water were set at 50 ppb in 1942, before arsenic was classified as a carcinogen. But a 1999 report by the National Academy of Sciences showed that this level failed to protect Americans from an unacceptably high risk of cancer.  

As long ago as October, 2012,  ABC News and other outlets exposed the fact of the unacceptably high arsenic content in rice. This despite the fact that (according to the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program): "It is considered the number one environmental chemical of concern for human health effects both in the U.S. and worldwide".   Note, however, that even if one avoided eating all rice or other arsenic content foods, he'd still face unacceptably high risks from drinking water- which Trump and his gang have now made worse.

Chemically, arsenic  can be divided into two categories: organic and inorganic. While organic arsenic is itself a probable human carcinogen, inorganic arsenic is a definite human carcinogen that is linked to liver, lung, kidney, bladder, and skin cancer as well as “increased risk of vascular and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, reproductive and developmental disorders, low birth weights in babies, neurological and cognitive problems, immunodeficiencies, metabolic disorders, and a growing list of other serious outcomes.”

 In terms of H2O, the EPA in 2000 proposed lowering the limit for arsenic from 50 ppb to just 5 ppb. But aw shit, the toxic....errrr, chemical industry complained, and the Clinton-era EPA settled upon a "compromise":  lowering the limit to just 10 ppb instead. Once George W. Bush took office, he initially attempted to block the change, thus keeping the World War II-era limit of 50 ppb. (Hint: Repukes love cancer because if they can increase the death rate of citizens they can have more die off earlier, so the rich won't have to cough up more taxes for new benefits.)

Thanks to Trump and his deregulatory gangsters, we can also expect many more cancers from increased perflourinated chemicals in our water.  Interestingly, at the time cancer (pancreatic, liver, kidney) hot spots began to show up around Fountain, south of the Springs, several years ago, few made connections.

But soon after a Denver Post story appeared, noting:   "These perflourinated chemicals rank among the worst in an expanding multitude of unregulated chemicals that federal scientists are detecting in city water supplies, including hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and anti-depressants."

And as further observed, as in the case of arsenic: "Perflourinated chemicals don't break down"

In Colorado now, as in  many other states and cities, it has reached the critical crisis mark as the water in all 32 wells of the Security, CO water district has been found contaminated by - you guessed it - PFCs.  In every case the contamination levels have exceeded 70 ppt and in one case hit 1,367 ppt - nearly 20 times higher than the putative limit (and hence inimical for the consumption of pregnant women and small children).

While PFC ingestion might not lead to retardation as does lead, it can lead to a whole raft of cancers, including the one I am currently fighting (prostate).  It has also been linked to "kidney and testicular cancer as well as "developmental damage to fetuses, low birth weight, accelerated puberty, distorted bones and liver tissue damage". 

But, of course, it doesn't stop with PFCs since as I've noted in previous posts.  The fact is our watersheds are literally awash with other toxins too, virtually none of which are regulated, including antibiotics, atrazine-laden weedicides and pesticides and other industrial byproducts - all carcinogenic crap for which the cancers generated will likely need painful, invasive biopsies as well as treatments later.   And we won't even get into the health care costs which are bound to run into the hundreds of millions.

Is the estimate of a million more cancer diagnoses in the coming year scare mongering or exaggeration?  Not really.  The reason is too many Americans aren't even aware of the cancers they're already harboring because they haven't been screened for them - for whatever reason.

Consider that back in 2011 - according to a TIME essay on  medical costs-   an estimated 16 million "accidentoplasms" had been found each year for nearly a decade.  These are cancers (neoplasms) found only accidentally - say as part of  a totally unrelated test - say a CT scan to check for something else (like my cholesteotoma).

 If the medical establishment had been forced to treat all of them the health system would go broke  just treating cancers.   Maybe it's just as well we go through our lives, most of us, not knowing what we don't know!    The problem is that the array of cancers likely to be unleashed by Trump's revoking clean water rules will be much more aggressive, and hence not ignorable.

But the fact is, water borne carcinogens - as well as pathogens - are among the worst at making us sick. Despite that, Trump and his cabal have now opened the door to them all and in the process,  undermining Americans' health.  Incredibly this ruthless move is touted as an "economic win" just like the earlier attacks on the regulatory state, e.g.

The Bannon Deregulatory "Juggernaut" Wreaks Havoc ...

 Indeed, the implication of this misplaced change - basically a plan to create dirty water- will be to add millions more cancer diagnoses to the American populace. This despite the fact we already have nearly 28  million uninsured, who'd go bankrupt if they had to get treatments for an aggressive cancer.

In the words of Bart Johnson-Harris of Environment America, quoted in The Denver Post ('Clean Water Rules Revoked', p. 1 A, Sept. 15):

"By repealing the clean water rules, this administration is opening our iconic waterways to a flood of pollution. The EPA is abdicating its mission to protect our environment and our health."

How did the Trumpies manage to accomplish (and justify)  this outrage? They used a cost - benefit analysis and applied it to what are called "the waters of the United States".  These include streams and wetlands that feed larger waterways, including those used for drinking water.  And what, pray tell, did the Trumpies' cost-benefit analysis find? Well, that the existing Clean Water Act rules did not provide any net economic benefits.  One imagines these crass boneheads never factored in the billions of added health care costs - from biopsies, cancer treatments.

Anyway, the basis for the finding of  "no net economic benefit" actually was traced to the ancillary finding that the clean water rules "could not be quantified."  Hence, these geniuses assigned a value of zero, so therefore the clean water rule had to go. It was holding back economic progress.

Hmmm....maybe these myopic birdbrains ought to have gone to Flint, Michigan or other cities affected by lead in their water supplies.  They'd have seen first hand the economic burdens imposed by lax water supply rules and conditions, e.g.

Mark Ruffalo & Bill Maher Expose Degraded State Of...

As the  example of Flint has shown, it is generally much less costly to refrain from polluting a water system in the first place than to try to clean it up once it's contaminated.  But this ought to be a basic economic proposition grasped by even an average IQ person.

Again, let's recall that as economist George Lakoff has pointed out, e.g.

Regulations are protections. Protections of the public health provided by a government that puts citizens' interests above corporate profits, or any imagined economic benefits.  Deregulation then, means the abolition or elimination of those same protections

What Trump's revocation of clean water rules has done is to attack our basic protections, which include the right to drink clean water - as opposed to fouled water. In so doing he's mounted an attack on our health and collective well being, as well as national security.  A sick nation cannot be a secure or functional nation, after all.

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