winners_strip2-1.thumbnail.jpgLast week, we learned the latest new "hot" technology — carbon nanotubes — could be every bit as deadly as asbestos (a former "hot" technology). A few days before that, we learned cell phone use during pregnancy makes the fetus far more likely to grow up to have behavioral problems. Ho-hum. Yet more chapters in our American lives — and deaths — without the precautionary principle. So what’s new? Plenty. As the nano-news broke, four Democratic "leaders" in Congress called bullshit on the whole narrative: they called to end the megacorps’ power to force our babies to be their test subjects.

Here in the Land of Opportunity we Americans have all sorts of "opportunities" to test the safety of new technologies. After enough of us exercise our "right" to sicken and die from untested new technologies, non-profits and academics have the opportunity to begin the decades-long process of stopping yet another industrial "gift" from maiming or killing us. All the while, the toxic substance or technology enjoys the freedom to hang out and travel around the planet, even while facing accusations of mass murder.

Today I’m reading a good LA Times piece about a well-done study that followed children with brain damage from lead as they grew to be adults with brain damage from lead. The study found that the more lead one has as a kid, the greater the adult risk of violent crime leading to arrest.

"People will sometimes say, ‘This is in the past. We are cleaning up lead. We don’t have lead problems anymore,’ " said criminologist Deborah W. Denno of Fordham University in New York, who also was not involved in the study. "The Ohio study says this is still a big problem."

[snip]

Researchers have long known that lead exposure reduces IQ by damaging brain cells in children during their early years.

It is also known that lead increases children’s distractibility, impulsiveness and restlessness and shortens their attention span, all factors considered precursors of aggressive or violent behavior.

A landmark 1990 paper by Denno linked lead to increases in criminal behavior, but the children in the study were not tested for lead levels. The diagnoses were based on their physicians’ evaluation, Denno said.

So almost 20 years after published studies linking lead to actions that send us to jail, lead’s still free in the environment … and in us.

Of course, years ago even US regulators finally moved to ban lead from paint and fuel here in the US.

Why, we even stopped using it in fuel: in 1996.

Merely 73 years after lead additives in fuel were first known to cause severe brain damage:

Adding … a small quantity of tetraethyl lead (TEL) to gasoline prevented engine "knock." …. To sell the additive to gasoline refiners, a new company called the Ethyl Corporation was formed as a joint venture of General Motors, Du Pont, and Standard Oil of New Jersey, and gasoline with the additive was called "Ethyl."

In fact, within a year of the start of Ethyl production in 1923 a number of workers on the Ethyl production line went insane and died from acute lead poisoning, prompting a ban on the sale of TEL-based gasoline until an inquiry could be conducted.

Hey, what’s the rush, right? After all, it’s only our brains … and our kids’ brains. Who are you gonna protect: your baby, or GM-DuPont-Standard Oil? This is America: where are your priorities, you Communist-Anarchist-Terrorist lover?

As today’s lead story and the 1923 lead story demonstrate, we and our babies aren’t the priority. We’re dead (or at least poisoned) meat: America and her "regulators" protect industry, not us.

Over the next several decades nearly all the research on the effects of TEL was funded by the Ethyl Corporation. Not surprisingly, the researchers failed to find conclusive evidence that leaded gasoline posed a public health risk.

This increased our average lead exposure to 300 to 500 times that of "normal" (pre-TEL) levels. As many as 68 million young children are believed to have received toxic levels of lead between 1927 and 1987 and as many as 5,000 deaths per year may have been caused by lead-related heart disease before TEL use was phased out.

I wish I were able to say lead and other accused toxic substances were at least out on bail while they travel around for decades: but I can’t.

In the upside-down world of toxic substance "regulation", even molecules and technologies accused of hundreds of millions of deaths don’t have to make bail. Instead, the burden is on the victims (or their survivors) and the NGO’s who take up their issue to force "regulators" to protect us from the latest industrial killer on the loose.

Imagine. If the Tate and LaBiancha families had to hire their own investigators and then persuade the human "regulators" — the DA’s and judges — to go after the killers, the Manson family might still be out … killing new victims.

Fortunately, the serial killers in the Manson family were detained and denied bail after human regulators accused them of mass killings. As defendants, if they sought to be free on bail, they had to persuade the regulator of humans we refer to as "Judge" that — if free — they wouldn’t be a threat to the rest of us. And — fortunately — they weren’t granted bail.

Nothing could ever excuse the Manson "family" for what they did to even one victim, let alone their many victims.

Yet members of the American Chemical Association, the American Manufacturing Association, and the rest of the megacorp "family" pushed out toxic products and technologies that have killed and maimed millions. The chemicals and technologies that did the killing and maiming — and do the killing and maiming — don’t even have to make bail.

Unlike human serial killers and poisoners, chemicals and technology are free to keep on killing after for decades after they are accused. The burden of proof is on the victims — you and me — to convince the "regulators" to protect us.

Even before the Bushie Reich put industry’s little Eichmanns in key positions throughout the FDA, CDC, USDA, and the rest of our "regulators", the megacorps had already bought off many regulators…and many of the pols who controlled and appointed the regualtors.

Industry’s obedient servant Dan Quayle donned his "Naturale Philosophere" dunce cap to simply decree Frankenseeds and GMO’s are "substantially equivalent" to the food crops selected without recombinant DNA technology.

How could Lorde Quayle know that organisms that still were in the future when he made his decree really were equivalent? Did Bush the Elder have a time machine? I don’t think so (and Little Boots’ survival to destroy the Atlantic Alliance and the American Empire also suggests not).

Merely the same faith-based "regulatory" system the chemical and manufacturing industries have used for decades.

When the megacorps have faith a new molecule or technology will make them money, they tell the rest of us to take it on faith their new profit center won’t hurt us.

Hey — why worry about nanomaterials? After all, our very own regulators declared them substantially equvialent to the macromaterials they come from. What — our regulators would lie to us?

Well, yes. No need to take my word for it — the citation below is from three UCLA faculty members published in Science.

Nanomaterials are engineered structures with at least one dimension of 100 nanometers or less….. As a result, their properties differ substantially from those bulk materials of the same composition, allowing them to perform exceptional feats of conductivity, reactivity, and optical sensitivity. Possible undesirable results of these capabilities are harmful interactions with biological systems and the environment, with the potential to generate toxicity.

Lead, cell phone signals, Frankenfoods, Bisphenol A, nanotubes — all vast experiments for which we never gave consent. Experiments in which we and our families and children are unwitting involuntary subjects.

That’s why the news about the four Democratic Congresscritters — Sen. Lautenberg, Sen. Boxer, Rep. Solis, and Rep. Waxman — is so important. The legislation they’ve introduced is literally a revolution. Their bill lets us be free, and forces new chemicals to earn their freedom.

And a lot of people have been dying to see that.

Finally: good eco-news for a change.