Water & Health
Posted on June 03, 2010 | Author: Dr. Richard Nahas | Category: General | 4 Comments
We visited some friends last weekend. They recently moved from Ottawa to a community just north of New York city. It is one of a number of neighborhoods near Long Island Sound on the Atlantic coast, and many of the people who live there commute to Manhattan. It is a fairly upscale neighborhood, with many million-dollar homes nestled in the hills amid mature trees and winding roads.
She was looking forward to living near the coast, but she confessed that when she takes her four-year-old daughter to the beach, she doesn’t let her swim in the ocean. She is The Deepwater Horizon has captured the hearts and minds of millions of people
The pollution of New York waterways is legendary. Most famous is the PCB pollution of the Hudson River, courtesy of General Electric. Between 1947 and 1977, two of their capacitor manufacturing plants dumped 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the river. It was designated a hazardous waste site by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund. This pollution made the fish so toxic that it led to a fishing ban within 30km of the river. The Superfund site has been an ongoing cleanup project for almost 40 years. The Great Lakes are chock-full of PCBs from decades of industrial dumping on both sides of the Canada-US border.
The Bronx River, which travels north into their neighborhood, has been plagued for decades by pollution coming from stormwater runoff. This leads to sewage being dumped into the river when it rains, a major problem that we are also suffering in Ottawa. Environment Canada has recently decriminalized the dumping of raw sewage into rivers, which gives cities free rein to take as long as they like to fix problems like these. In each of the past four years, almost 1 billion liters of sewage from our toilets have been dumped into the Ottawa River when it rains.
We rarely hear about oceanfront beaches in terms of chemical pollution, even when they are downstream from industrial dumping. This is because the ocean is such a vast storage tank, allowing toxins to seemingly disappear. When sun-worshippers are warned to avoid a specific beach, it is usually because of bacterial growth from bird droppings.
This is typical short-sightedness that we need to move beyond – in Canada we consider our water safe if it causes no problems within a few days of drinking it. There is currently a campaign promoting tap water use in the city of Ottawa, which you may have seen on the sides of buses or on billboards. I find this campaign amusing, because of the sewage we are dumping in our water supply – and because over 30% of the people who live in our city are drinking from lead-contaminated pipes. While there are plans to upgrade this infrastructure slowly over the next 40-50 years, the problem is not addressed more urgently because it is simply too expensive to fix.
Every day, in thousands of places around the world, toxic waste is spilling into our oceans, rivers and lakes. Those chemicals and toxins will ultimately find their way into our bodies. And they mess with our machinery. They disrupt hormone function, they contribute to cancer and they likely affect immune and nervous system function and irritability.
Ours is one of a number of integrative medicine practices whose treatment includes detoxification. This is a controversial subject that many physicians do not yet consider worthwhile – including many integrative doctors. Although the science linking toxins and health is still in its infancy, it makes sense. It is ridiculous to think that we can be healthy if we live in a dirty world. It is clear that healthy plants can only grow in fertile soil – and it is not possible to produce healthy humans in a dirty world.
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