A Discovery in Bloomington
My wife and I moved to
My family has had experience, not with birth defects, but with weird health issues—of my 5 siblings, one had cancer and survived, one has juvenile arthritis, one has ovarian cysts, and we lost another to cancer. All of my siblings are younger than me, and all of these issues developed in teenage years or before. We still wonder if a nearby landfill could be to blame, or something else. We don’t know, and we’ll probably never know, but that is probably the reason I’m naturally suspicious of health problems that develop with high frequency.
The issue of birth defects is of particular concern to us because we are considering having a child soon, and we, like everyone else, want our child to have the best chance possible at happiness and comfort in life. We’ve looked around for evidence of what might cause this, but, though many people had noticed the frequency of birth defects, no one knew of why. The internet seemed likewise silent. All the
So I was reading digg.com, like I do every morning, and I came across a link to an old “TV Funhouse” from SNL. I’d seen it before, it is about major corporations controlling media for their own benefit. At one point in the video, PCBs are mentioned as a harmful substance dumped by GE and Westinghouse. Since I like to know a little bit about everything, I thought I’d look up PCBs at my favorite source—Wikipedia.
I read about why Polychlorinated biphenyl was used, and what its properties are—all very interesting. As I’m scrolling down I see “Large Scale Contaminations.” The first instance is in the upper
From the late 1950s through 1977, Westinghouse Electric used PCBs in the manufacture of capacitors in its
Yikes! So I google
Bloomington Indiana superfund, and lo and behold a ton of hits come right up about superfund sites dealing with PCB contamination in . Not to be deterred, I read more. It turns out that PCBs get into the air, and generally affect humans that way (and I thought it was our nasty tap water). A document citing the EPA for “callous disregard for human life and health” at one of the Bloomington superfund sites dated 1997 says “the memo does not say how high the PCB levels are in the air but only that they exceed one microgram which is already fifteen times greater that the Superfund target risk level of one per million.” Bloomington
So then I googled “birth defect” pcb. Guess what, another landslide of information. The NY Times carried an article in 1988 about a PCB spill in
“widespread human toxicity occurred after consumption of PCB contaminated rice oil in
As it turns out there is an entire active organization dedicated to opposing PCBs in
I haven’t uncovered some kind of conspiracy. All of this evidence is well documented, and may be well understood by anyone interested. But it worries me nonetheless. What Will my wife and I do? I don’t know, at some point we may decide it is worth the risk. We may look to transfer law schools, or just wait until we live elsewhere. I just wonder how frequent this kind of thing is—and how many people it affects.