Government Should Pressure Industry to Limit Chlorine's Use
By Nicholas Regush (ABCNews.com)
“Chlorine.” There, I wrote it and I’m glad.
I instinctively gaze slowly to my left and then to my right to determine whether any chemical industry lobbyist, snoop, or public relations specialist saw me sneer when I started thinking “chlorine.”
“Chlorine is helping to slowly kill this planet and all living creatures on it.” That felt good too. I must be feeling ultra-bold today.
Chlorine is the chemical that companies use to make a variety of common products, including plastics, pesticides and paper. Chlorine is also used to treat water. Some of the by-products of chlorine usage are pollutants such as PCBs, DDT, and dioxins.
Where's the Moxie on Chlorine?
I just wish that our presidential-aspiring environmental champions, Al Gore and George W. Bush, could also write or say “chlorine.” It would be very exciting indeed if at least one of the candidates reached out to the American public and actually said something like: “Current federal environmental policy to control the risk of poisoning our country with chlorine-based chemicals stinks. These substances are building up everywhere — in the environment, food and our bodies.”
I would expect the candidate to instinctively gaze to his left and then to his right to determine which chemical industry lobbyists were already beginning to twitch.
Those twitches would undoubtedly become big-time spasms should the candidate take the next vital step and warn that these types of chemicals — so-called “organochlorines” — have been associated with cancer, immune problems, and fertility and developmental disorders.
Try to imagine a presidential candidate who would then propose that the major way to deal with such wide-scale and accumulating toxicity, in this country, and indeed, worldwide, would be to establish a program that would lay out a timetable to reduce the use of chlorine and usher in less toxic manufacturing methods.
Powerful Chlorine and Chemical Lobby
But a policy to switch even gradually from chlorine-based manufacturing to alternative methods would be a dead-on assault on the chemical industry which has shown itself to be powerfully — and skillfully — entrenched against such thinking.
Several years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency had the audacity to suggest that a study be launched to determine how feasible it would be to move away from chlorine to some degree, in say, solvent manufacturing and water treatment.
This did not sit well with the Chemical Manufacturers’ Association or the Chlorine Institute which were not about to take such lip from the EPA or the White House. Imagine, the government actually backed down when the industry turned on some heat. The chemical industry strongly protects current EPA policy, which merely involves some toxicological testing, population studies to measure the effects of certain pollutants, some specific and more detailed investigation of products and pollution control technologies.
In other words, the EPA tries to assess the risk of individual chemicals (as many as time and money allow) with the goal of managing that risk so that it is low enough not to cause any harm.
Enough Science to Make Changes
Sure, and aardvarks write poetry.
The sobering fact is that in most cases science isn’t even close to understanding the potential short-term and long-term impact of these chlorine-based chemicals on the body and environment. There are hundreds of them. And science isn’t even close to understanding what levels of these chemicals can cause damage.
The chemical industry likes to carp on the notion that any policy suggesting a move away from chlorine doesn’t have the “sound science” to stand on.
In the book Pandora’s Poison, Joe Thornton of Columbia University’s Center for Environmental Research and Conservation contends there is enough sound science available to understand that chlorine can cause big trouble to the body and environment and that a wide range of alternatives to this chemical are readily available.
For example, ozone, ultraviolet light are just some of the alternatives to chlorine use in disinfecting our drinking water. Wood, metal, glass and textiles and chlorine-free plastics could replace vinyl applications in construction and packaging.
Thornton’s book should be important reading to both presidential candidates who think environmental policy is better management of current pollutants rather than their reduction or replacement.
Come on candidates, stop looking over your shoulders at the lobbyists.
Nicholas Regush produces medical features for ABCNEWS. In his weekly column, published Thursdays, he looks at medical trouble spots, heralds innovative achievements and analyzes health trends that may greatly influence our lives. His latest book is The Virus Within.
Regush's Weekly Column can be seen each week at
DR. MERCOLA'S COMMENT: Nick Reglush is one of my favorite traditional media journalists. He does an incredible job of speaking the truth. If you haven't shifted over to bottled or filtered water yet, what is stopping you? The Culligan filter available at most Walgreen's store is superior to Brita and is under $25. It is not the best filter, but it is far better than drinking chlorinated water.
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