Toxins passed on from mother to child

Bharati Chaturvedi

A Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) has revealed that in the 17 years since the Bhopal gas tragedy, highly toxic chemicals have spread from the Union Carbide factory premises, not only into soil, water and vegetables, but even inside breast milk. They are now being passed on from mothers to their children.

Toxicologist Dr Amit Nair, who carried out the study, examined heavy metals like lead, cromium, mercury, nickel, halo-organics, chlorobenzenes and the pesticide BHC.

The chemicals, apart from being carcinogenic, depress the immune and endocrine system, making victims susceptible to illness. This report will have an impact on the claim action suit on Bhopal in US courts.

In another report, Prof Srinivasmurthy of NIMHANS, Bangalore, and Dr Amit Basu of JNU, have shown a dangerous pattern of mental health illness specific to Bhopal survivors.

The FFM has revealed how Carbide joined up with DOW chemicals, suppliers of the horrific Agent Orange and Nepalm during the Vietnam War, and continues as a major pollution source. Some things never change.

Next time you take out your camera, remember this. According to the US Environmental Protection Act, Kodak (located in Rochester, NY), is one of the largest polluters of cancer-causing chemicals in the US and is New York's number one manufacturing polluter.

The Citizens' Environmental Coalition has been pressuring Kodak to reduce its emissions of toxic chemicals, including significant dioxin releases. Unfortunately, the coalition says (www.kodakstoxiccolors.org) that Kodak continues to release the equivalent of 544 million adult doses of dioxin every year.

Decades of pollution may be slowly destroying the people of Rochester, NY. Women living near Kodak Park had approximately an 80 per cent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer, increasing to 96 per cent for women living near the park for more than 20 years.

In 1997 alone, 33 cases of childhood brain and spinal cord cancer were found in a five-mile radius surrounding the Kodak premises. Twenty per cent of the population living within a quarter mile is under 10-years-old and exposed to toxic chemicals.

Wetland bureaucrats

Ecologists in UP are alarmed at the disappearing wetlands of Mainpuri and Etawah. These wetlands are unique eco-systems where birds like Sarus Cranes and Black Neck Storks are found in plenty. The land is being drained out.

Ecologists believe that this is linked with a World Bank assisted project in UP and the coming UP elections. But there is a silver lining; two district magistrates have strongly opposed the move.

(If you feel for Planet Earth, send your feedback to Earthwatch1@rediffmail.com)