When Cleaning Makes Things Worse – Making polluters pay for poisoned water

Pesticides like DDT kill marine life
Marine Biologist Rachel Carson kick-started the environmental movement back in 1962 with her powerful book, Silent Spring which showed how pesticides like DDT kill marine life

I read a great article by Walter Mugdan the EPA’s Director of Emergency Response, about how toxic and dangerous cleaning fluids like Perc can be when they are allowed to contaminate  public water supplies.
Much US water and air was contaminated by toxic chemicals like Perchlorethylene, a chlorinated solvent, which was verywidely used in dry cleaning until the 1970s, and usually disposed of by  dry cleaning shops simply  pouring it down public drains.

In the 1970s scientists began to realise that these toxic chemicals caused cancer. Mugdan’s article explains how people who lived close to the many dry cleaning shops in Endicott, New York, where IBM had its headquarters, were much more likely to die of cancer as a result.In the USA Walter Mugdan leads a team of 180  EPA scientists, lawyers and researchers who are working to keep the US environment safe by making polluters clean up and pay.Since 1979, dry cleaning shops have been forced to change their practices and c ompanies like IBM have been mounting massive clean-up jobs around their Endicott  HQ.

I was very glad to see that Ireland’s Sherkin Island Marine Station has been publishing  Walter Mugdan’s work on how groundwater becomes contaminated in issue 62 of its quarterly newspper Sherkin Comment on page 5.
Walter Mugdan has written a number of articles for Sherkin Comment, including one about Rachel Carson, the marine biologist who kickstarted the global environmental movement back in 1962 with her famous book Silent Spring, which charted how deadly chemicals like DDT affect animal and plant life at every level.

DDT was banned in the US ten years later in 1972 and Rachel Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest Civilian award that you can be awarded in the USA.
It’s great to know that  Ireland has  a few publicly funded publications like Sherkin Comment which  are helping  to raise awareness of how the fight for the environment began and how much we all still need to do.
Environmentalists in the USA are likely to remain firmly in the front line now that the Trumpkin is in the White House.  Those  brave souls who are leading the Scientists March on Washington deserve our wholehearted support.
Thanks to Dublin’s Botanic Gardens for supplying me with my free print copy of Sherkin Comment, which I would never have found if it had not been on the front desk.
It was well worth me taking time to read it .

Click to access SherkinComment62.pdf

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