How appropriate that I find myself driving to a lecture by Ken Cook, co-founder of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), days after Forbes announces that Atlanta is the most toxic city in the United States. Atlanta, a city I have called home for nearly 30 years.
The Event was hosted by Emory University. It is the first in their Enlightenment Series. I arrived to a sold out crowd—something that even surprised the organizers.
I have been following EWG for some time now, and was thrilled that I actually got to see Ken Cook speak. His lecture was entitled 10 Americans. And this was the story:
Blood of 10 Americans was screened for 413 chemicals. Of those 413 chemicals, an average of 287 were found—47 were consumer product ingredients and 212 were industrial chemicals and pesticides, many of which have been banned for over 30 years. These Americans weren’t exposed via air pollution, water, industry, farming, or food. These 10 Americans were in their mother’s womb. That’s right—these 10 Americans were fetuses and had been exposed to almost 300 chemicals before they’ve even set eyes upon this earth.
This is pretty eye-opening information the first time you hear it. And the second. In fact, I wonder if it gets any easier to swallow?
But then listen to these statistics:
- There has been an 84% increase in acute lymphocytic leukemia in children from 1975 to 2002.
- Hypospadiasis (a congenital birth defect in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside instead of the end of the penis) has doubled to 1 out of every 200 babies.
- There has been a 57% increase in childhood brain cancer from 1975 to 2002.
- Autism rates are reaching 1 in 150 children.
- Asthma has increased from 3.6% to 9.4% from 1980 to 2006. Atlanta has reached a soaring 18% asthma rate.
- 7.3 million American couples have infertility problems.
- Male sperm count has decreased by 20% in the past 20 years.
- We are seeing breast cancer in 1 in 8 women.
- 1 of every 3 women will develop cancer in their lifetime.
- 1 of every 2 men will develop cancer in their lifetime.
Let’s go back to the chemicals found in these fetuses. Studies done on these chemicals have shown the following characteristics:
Of those 272 chemicals found in the cord blood:
- 134 are carcinogenic
- 151 can cause birth defects
- 154 are endocrine disruptors
- 186 can cause infertility
- 130 can be toxic to the immune system
- 158 are neurotoxic
So what should we do? Seems a bit daunting to take on the task of cleaning up this world we live in. But Ken Cook gave very good, straightforward advice that you can start doing today!:
- Buy Organic.
- Eat low mercury fish.
- Filter your tap water.
- Use stainless steel cookware.
- Shop smart for personal care products.
- Use safe cleaners.
We can do these things, can’t we? The only way to conquer this is one step at a time.
And the event sponsors did just that. Would you believe that they practiced what they preached by serving us an all organic, locally fresh farm-raised healthy meal. The program was printed on sustainable paper.
Learn more about the EWG, the Kids Safe Chemical Act, and the 10 Americans Presentation.
I’d also like to mention that I was seated at a table with a local business woman, Audrey, from Pure Life Healthy Homes. She’s been doing this for years and gets it.