Do you want to have poison entering your body?

June 20th, 2000

To the Editor,

I have just read the 6/13 article from your paper by Dr. Robertson about the “safety” of Dursban and pesticides in general. It continues to amaze me that anyone would answer the question, “Do you want to have poison entering your body?” in the affirmative. The fact remains that whatever one chooses to believe about Dursban’s effects upon humans, a resounding majority of Americans (both adults and children), were shown to have this toxin present in their urine. Pesticides have also been found in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women.

Robertson failed to mention whether or not he established the absence of pesticide poisoning in his patients via blood tests for traces of the products and metabolites he claims are so benign. Were plasma and serum cholinesterase levels checked for patients making complaints following Dursban exposures? Unless such testing was performed, the statistics noted in the article are worthless.

With over 17,000 reports of Dursban poisoning reported in recent years, we must assume that many more incidents have gone unreported. The majority of physicians have no knowledge or training in recognition of pesticide poisoning. Readers should ask themselves if they ever recall a doctor asking them if they have had a recent pesticide exposure upon making complaints of dermal, gastrointestinal or neurological symptoms. Pesticides are so commonplace in our environment that we do not even know when we have been exposed. Landlords do not have to notify tenants, municipalities spray residential areas without adequate notice, ballfields are covered with herbicides and we all become the unwitting consumers (literally) of registered poisons. To my mind this comprises a criminal assault, particularly when many other options in pest and weed control exist today.

When both short and long term adverse effects are reported by so many persons, it is tragic that such anecdotal evidence is considered irrelevant. Pesticide testing protocols used by manufactureres are inadequate as they do not consider the different abilities from person to person to successfully removing such toxins from the body without harm. Women and children appear to have a greater degree of difficulty in this task. As harmful dosages are calculated for effects upon healthy males, we must question why industry is permitted to market such products when studies consider only a minority of the consumer population. Studies are also performed on the active ingredients of a product while consumers are exposed to that ingredient PLUS “other” additives designed to deliver it and/or intensify it’s toxic effect upon pests (and bystanders).

We are the true guinea pigs and our homes, schools and businesses are the laboratories – but industry is not analyzing the data so other agencies must do so. The EPA is is hardly the villain here and did not state that Dursban poses no threat to the public. They simply did not recall the products to avoid lengthy litigation that would keep Dursban on the shelves for a longer period of time than the current agreement permits.

Ladies and gentlemen, please ask your legislators to offer you choices in whether you (1) wish to be exposed to poison at all and (2) whether you are entitled to know where and when poisons have been applied as you enter stores, libraries, museums and parks. Until studies on toxic materials are performed by independent agencies instead of the manufacturers of the products, WE must be the arbiters of what we are willing to consume.

Barbara Rubin

Categories: Seattle Times

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