Peak & Prairie
February / March 1998
Bits and Pieces from the World of
by Angela Medbery, Chapter Toxics Chair
Gulf War Syndrome and MCS
You've read about Gulf War Syndrome and may know a Vietnam vet who also has problems. Because the health effects noted are so pervasive throughout our society, it is only proper that we as environmentalists address them along with the more notable cancers, asthma and birth defects on which we have concentrated in the past.
MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity), CFIDS aka CFS (chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome aka chronic fatigue syndrome) and FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) overlap the symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome, Vietnam vet symptoms and similar symptoms from peacetime exposure. Many groups are working on these issues nationally and locally. These are some of them:
Expect a report on MCS from the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry early this year that may not be friendly to those with chemical sensitivities. Write your congressional representatives to ask for a congressional investigation into this group of ailments. What the Vietnam and Gulf War vets are experiencing is a real physical impairment, and many civilians have similar symptoms.
Something Buggy Available
Now there is also an elementary school level picture book (in 20-point type) and tape of songs about MCS. This is a very colorful, kid-friendly book called "Something Buggy." It conveys the story of a family harmed by their bug exterminator's pesticides. The rhymes and verse on the tape have a message of their own.
The author of "Something's Buggy," Heather Bausch, herself a victim of MCS, is adept at sharing her concerns with children. She will be available to give programs on bugs, bug control and MCS for elementary school children in Colorado during March and April. She needs $25 toward travel and other expenses and would like to reach as many kids as possible. Call Angela at (303) 433-2608 to connect with her during that time.
The tape (23 minutes) and book (44 pages) are available at $5 each or $8 for both, from Youth Truth Books, 10714 Hwy. 133, Cassville, WI 53806, (888) 266-3350 (toll-free),
Anaversa Disaster - Mexico's Bhopal
On May 3, 1991 a pesticide plant exploded and burned in a densely populated area of Cordoba, in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. Thirty-eight thousand liters of deadly pesticides were engulfed in the conflagration (18,000 liters of methyl parathion, 8,000 liters of paraquat, 3,000 liters of 2,4-D and more than 1,500 liters of pentachlorophenol, malathion, benzene hexachloride and lindane). Although 3,000 people died in the Bhopal, India, blast in a single night, no one was killed in the Anaversa fire. There were more than 157 documented deaths after the fire. At least 20 pregnant women had been trapped in the vicinity of the fire, and babies were born without arms and with extra toes and fingers or with spina bifida. Residents of the surrounding communities continue to suffer from the effects of the disaster.
The blackout of information on this disaster may be related to the fact that it occurred during the most intense period of negotiations on the NAFTA agreement. A second reason may be that officials in Mexico who licensed and benefitted from Anaversa's operation were players in the administration of now-vilified ex-President Carlos Salinas.
San Francisco Reducing Pesticide
San Francisco reports good results from its effort to reduce pesticide use. Environmental Watch, an advocacy and watchdog group, has assisted the city in finding alternative pest control and management approaches.
Does Organic Labeling Mean Healthy?
The new federal organic food regulations present a lot of problems. A list of concerns for comments to be written is available from Angela at (303) 433-2608. One big problem is that irradiation of organic produce will be permitted without information labels.
Healthy Marbled Meat?
Biotechnology, that is, genetic engineering, will get a big push from the Clinton Administration. Meanwhile we see some groups looking at engineering marbling into meat to make it tastier. Isn't marbled meat supposed to be less healthy than lean meat (all that cholesterol)?