Cancer--censored, delayed, none of your business

Of course our government cannot really tell us the truth about things like "weapons of mass destruction," or the true costs of various wars and occupations, or the size of the CIA's budget, because we're so silly and can't be trusted to understand. Turns out, we can't be told anything official about the cancer risk, or not, of numerous chemicals that permeate our soil, water and some of our daily products.

Of course our government cannot really tell us the truth about things like "weapons of mass destruction," or the true costs of various wars and occupations, or the size of the CIA's budget, because we're so silly and can't be trusted to understand. Turns out, we can't be told anything official about the cancer risk, or not, of numerous chemicals that permeate our soil, water and some of our daily products.

The Government Accounting Office has just issued a report, not released to us taxpayers, of course. That report is on how the Environmental Protection Agency is not issuing decisions on the cancer danger from numerous chemicals found in our daily lives and common products: from moth balls to solvents, from insecticides to building products. The GAO report was turned over to Congress where somebody finally leaked it so we people paying the price, financially and health-wise could get a clue.

It's been a decade or longer since the detailed studies of some suspected chemicals were undertaken. Still trying to make up their mind back in D.C. Cancer-causing or simply bad rap?

Here's a story that lists some of the chemicals in question. Among them are formaldehyde, one of my favorite blog topics. Also: Naphthalene which is used in rocket fuel so we won't be banning that one any time soon. Besides, the Pentagfon has a big role to play in deciding whether or not these chemicals are dangerous to your health. Trichloroethylene, or TCE, a common pollutant of air, soil and both surface and ground water. Seven years ago the EPA said TCE is "highly likely to produce cancer in humans." Now it'll require much more study.

Then there's Royal Demolition Explosive, or RDX, a chemical explosive. Anybody wanna guess what we're using that one for? If Wikipedia has the full scope, it's a military chemical entirely. So all our military exercises using the real thing leave RDX in the soil whence it leaches into the ground water and thence into your plastic water bottle. Drink up. The EPA is thinking about this one real hard now and they'll be continuing to consult the finest of experts. That will include Pentagon pros on RDX. Naph

Naphthalene, to pick just one of the chemicals that are so complicated our government can't quite assess it, is very useful. Moth balls all used to contain it. Then people got nervous as negative evidence piled up. So now many mothballs contain other toxics. But according to the European Union, the stuff is still around.

"15,000 tonnes of naphthalene were used in the manufacture of fumigants in the EU in 1986 (BUA, 1989). However, the use of naphthalene as a moth repellent and insecticide has decreasedsince the introduction of chlorinated compounds such as p-dichlorobenzene (Merck, 1989). Naphthalene is still used in the manufacture of mothballs. In the EU this is predominantly carried out by a company located in Belgium, which distributes world-wide. This may be to companies who re-package the mothballs for re-distribution. About 1,000 tonnes/annum are used for the manufacture of mothballs throughout the EU. Naphthalene is also used in museums in order to protect articles preserved in storage drawers/cupboards from attack by pests."

Here's a non-governmental site that lists scientific studies of various kinds of health hazards posed by naphthalene.This site claims we currently produce over a million pounds annually in the U.S. That puts it somewhere below French fries and above platinum. With that much naph around, and it's long-lasting stability in the environment, dontcha think it would be nice for us to finally decide whether it's killing some of us? Would you rather face more naphthalene in your soup or beer... or simply another, ferocious man-eating moth?