Legislating Knowledge

July 6th, 2004

To the Editor,

This article is not about scrutinizing poisons. It is about the public’s right to know about our bodies, the products and services we pay for and our changing environment. No alterations regarding the manufacture or sale of chemicals are being posited here, only the assessment and monitoring of “…scores of everyday trace environmental toxins in our bodies.”

I am sorry that Dr. Nakanishi, the Lodi assemblyman who voted against the bill, feels ill prepared to deal with the the information this bill would provide to the public but there are many of us who can utilize it to our benefit.

There is no dearth of studies which belie the myth that “the dose makes the poison”. In fact, studies of animals with immune systems similar to our own are showing detrimental effects from exposures to commonly encountered poisons BELOW the “allowable” concentrations permitted by EPA standards. Other researchers are finding that it is not necessarily the individual poison which finally causes harm to the human host whose body is busily processing, excreting and storing man-made toxins. It is the fact that the trespass of chemicals into our bodies occurs in combinations of agents, which can finally overwhelm the body’s defenses. We are not exposed to one chemical at a time, even if they are tested under that premise.

Dr. Abou-Donia of Duke University has proven that central nervous system damage can occur from combined exposures to DEET, a common pesticide applied to the skin as a repellant, and permethrin, another pesticide used in many homes and offices. Permethrin is now also being used to make fabric into bug repelling clothing. Interactions between medications and environmental toxins are also known to occur.

As someone who became chronically ill and brain injured from pesticide exposures, I read the research and was amazed to learn that I am deficient in an enzyme called paroxonase. Millions of adults and all babies are deficient in this enzyme which places us at a disadvantage when exposed to certain chemicals in pesticides and medications. Had this knowledge been available to me years earlier, I might not have become disabled and a burden upon society.

Censorship in the guise of concerns about the public misusing information is a ludicrous concept in a democracy and a “free market” economy. Consumers, under capitalism, are entitled to know all about their purchases so they can reward the makers of the best, safest and most economical products with their consumer dollars.

I must be living under another type of regime.

Categories: Oakland Tribune

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