Drinking water

According to the World Health Organization, the annual global production of chemicals amounts to over $1.5 trillion. The WHO also reports that over 100,000 chemicals are now on the market, and that from 1,000 to 2,000 new ones are added each year.

Although many chemicals were either banned or taken off the market since Dr. Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring" woke us up to the dangers of chemicals in 1962, we're learning that not all new chemicals are thoroughly tested for toxicity prior to release because laboratories have certain built-in limitations. They cannot, for example, fully simulate a chemical's behavior in the diverse and complex outside world. Some chemicals are innocuous on their own, but when they join together with others outside or inside our bodies, they can produce new toxic compounds.

We are all affected by chemicals, but the WHO points out that it is the uneducated person with little or no access to appropriate training or basic information on the risks posed by chemicals to whom they are exposed directly or indirectly every day.

Since 1998, when the United Nations declared The International Year of the Ocean, we've become increasingly aware that the seas and oceans are in crisis because of pollution. It's already been two decades since the Beluga whales in North America's St. Lawrence River had toxin levels so high that they are treated as hazardous waste when they die!

According to Scientific American magazine, “Most citizens are very likely to have the greatest contact with potentially toxic pollutants because they're inside the places they usually consider to be essentially unpolluted, such as homes, office and automobiles.” They cite the chief sources of air pollution in homes when fumes originate from ordinary products, such as cleaning compounds, insect repellents, building materials, fuels, deodorizers and disinfectants, as well as chemicals from dry-cleaned clothes and new synthetic upholstery.

We're also exposed to aerosols, artificial sweeteners, cosmetics, dyes, inks, paints, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, plastics, refrigerant, synthetic fabrics — and the list goes on and on and on!

For a healthier, safer home:

• Store most chemicals that give off vapors where they will not contaminate the air in your home … and away from children!

• Have good ventilation in all rooms

• If you treat a room with a pesticide, keep toys out of that room for at least two weeks, even though the product label may say the room is safe hours after treatment

• Despite what sales campaigns have convinced us, minimize your use of pesticides (Frank Graham, in his book "Since Silent Spring," warns us about what their excesses are doing to us!)

• Flaking lead paint must be removed. If lead pipes exist, be sure the cold water tap is flushed briefly until there is a noticeable change in water temperature. Water from the hot water tap should never be used for drinking.

Despite the Safe Drinking Act of 1974 that mandated that lead pipes in schools, hospitals and prisons were to be replaced, there exist some schools and hospitals in our state that still have not had theirs replaced. None of the lead pipes going into older prisons have had theirs replaced, either.

In 1960, the World Health Organization said that the United States was No. 1 among the healthiest nations of the world. As of 2019, we are ranked No. 35. I — as a health care practitioner — am convinced that we are dropping because of chemical toxins. I am also convinced that most sicknesses (including cancer) are chemically induced and/or aggravated by chemicals!

In 1997, the city of Auburn was cited as having New York state's best drinking water, but my concern now is what is happening to it?

Most areas of this nation are dealing with unsafe drinking water, and here we are in the Finger Lakes region, where we possess the largest spring-fed lakes in the world.

And what is also alarming is the growing drought problems that now exists in the United States, as well as around the world.

So it should be obvious to the readers that we must act even more aggressively than we are at the present time — to save our lakes!

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The Rev. Joyce Hackett Smith, N.D., is an ordained minister who also believes in natural healing and holds a doctorate degree in naturopathy.