Lies of Omission Take Many Lives

April 8th, 2004

To the Editor,

The refusal to notify citizens about environmental contaminants and toxic ingredients in consumer goods is a crime against the Bill of Rights. I have found the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness quite difficult while lugging a portable oxygen tank and functioning with a reduced IQ level from absorption of neurotoxic pesticides in 1999.

The potential adverse effects of chemicals are delineated in product MSDS sheets. Yet we cannot even pass laws requiring schools to notify concerned parents and staff about impending usage of pesticides or solvents. Landlords and employers can legally withhold information about toxic materials in their “fiefdoms” unless specifically asked for such data by individuals AFTER exposure.

We are then scolded for the “overuse” of health care services, risen to the ruinous level of 15% of our economy. Yet without knowledge of our toxic exposures, only symptomatic treatments (suck on this inhaler, take this antacid) or the default diagnosis of a blind society, “It is just stress.”, is available. The government cure for soaring costs? Restrict access to health care and hide data concerning exposures (e.g. lead in DC, contaminants at ground zero in NY).

We must test our own homes and offices. I have moved out of a number of apartments in New York where severe asthma and other symptoms indicated possible environmental causation. Low cost toxicological testing revealed high levels of contaminants in each case, including methylene chloride; insecticides known as cypermethrin, dursban, dichlorvos, lambda-cyhalothrin and cyfluthrin; petrochemical hydrocarbon fumes from inadequately combusted fuel oil.

We must learn to exercise individual responsibility in protecting our greatest natural resources – our health and intellectual capacities. Nothing less than full disclosure of all ingredients in our consumer goods and all test results of air/soil/water is acceptable.

Barbara Rubin

Categories: Washington Post

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