Our Environment and Health

For close to three quarters of a century, essentially since WWII, we have been blithely dumping anything and everything the human mind concocts into our environment: air, water and land. In case you hadn’t noticed, we breathe, drink, and eat the products, respectively, of these three. We are made up of what we take in from these three. The last four decades of fairly loud drumbeating about what we’re doing to our to atmosphere, seas, rivers, lakes and ponds, aquifers, soils, forests, marshes, deserts, mountains, etc. should have penetrated even the densest of skulls. So, it ought to come as no surprise to anyone that all that poison is now in us.

Sexually confused alligators in the Florida’s everglades with male and female internal organs, or massive worldwide die-offs of frogs and other amphibians, an impending period of mass extinctions unseen in tens of millions of years, or the increasing incidence of cancers in the human population– these and more have been the warning signs, better yet the SCREAMING SIRENS, that something is very wrong. But many of us have had really effective blinders and ear plugs on.

In case you’re still unconvinced, here’s a tiny sampling of headlines from the LATimes over less than the past two years:

* Mom’s beef puts son’s sperm at stake- March 28, 2007
* Common chemicals linked to breast cancer- May 14, 2007
* Breast implants linked to suicide- August 8, 2007
* Phthalates? Phtooey!- September 20, 2007
* Toxins and Pollution- July 14, 2008 (as causes of obesity, GY)
* Chemicals get the safe treatment- September 14, 2008

It’s pretty scary stuff. You hear about diesel-death-zones, childhood asthma induced by particulates, compromised lung capacity among children raised in high-pollution areas, fire-retardant chemicals that get into our food chains, the list goes on and on.

But there is hope, and it’s not just coming from Obama’s imminent White House entry. December 17th’s LATimes reported that California “State officials launch ‘green’ initiative”. It’s a very simple premise, really. If you’re going to use a substance (some 100, 000 chemicals are currently in use), it must be safe to do so (only a few hundred are currently known to be safe). You don’t eat poisonous mushrooms, drink scummy standing water, or apply lye to your skin do you? It’s not safe to do so. That’s all there is to it, safety and healthfulness. We can’t deny or ignore the reality any longer that we humans and our state of health are reflections of our surroundings (more fancily known as our environment) and what we do to them.

Let’s hope more jurisdictions, local to international, adopt measures based on this simple, common-sense, premise. Europe is already on board. It’s up to us to make sure Armenia does the same, particularly since it’s much less costly to do so when building from scratch rather than retrofitting existing facilities or modifying toxics-producing processes. Anyone currently investing in Armenia, or planning on doing so in the future, should be guided by this wisdom. Perhaps it’s easier to ask “would my grandparents have done it this way” and be guided by the answer.

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