Final Paper: Environmental Ethics: The Danger Humans Pose on the Planet Earth

In addition to insecticides many herbicides

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. In addition to insecticides, many herbicides volatilize rapidly and are detected in the atmosphere. For instance, in Saskatchewan, Canada, as much as 20% of herbicides were found to have volatilized within 24 hours of application and 99.9% had volatilized from the plant surfaces after five days (Shewchuk, 1982). Scientists are
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observing with increasing alarm that some very common hormone-mimicking chemicals can have grotesque effects. A widely used herbicide acts as a female hormone and feminizes male animals in the wild. Thus male frogs can have female organs, and some male fish actually produce eggs. In a Florida lake contaminated by these chemicals, male alligators have tiny penises 6 . These days, there is also growing evidence linking this class of chemicals to problems in humans. These include breast cancer, infertility, low sperm counts, genital deformities, early menstruation and even diabetes and obesity. Phillip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that a congenital defect called hypospadias - a misplacement of the urethra – is now twice as common among newborn boys as it used to be 6 . He suspects endocrine disruptors, so called because they can wreak havoc within the endocrine system that governs hormones. Endocrine disruptors are practically everywhere. They are in thermal receipts that come out of gas pumps and A.T.M.’s. They are in canned foods, cosmetics, plastics and food packaging. In April of 2012, the Endocrine Society, the leading association of hormone experts, scolded the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its failure to ban bisphenol-A, a common endocrine disruptor known as BPA, from food packaging 6 . In 2011, eight medical organizations representing genetics, gynecology, urology and other fields created a joint call in Science magazine for a tighter regulation of endocrine disruptors. Pesticides represent a large group of products designed to kill or harm living organisms from insects to rodents to unwanted plants or animals, making them inherently toxic. Beyond acute poisoning, the influences of low-level exposures on child health are of ever-increasing concern. The amounts of pesticides and other organic compounds transported in the atmosphere are enormous. In the atmosphere of the Netherlands, the amounts of beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (BHC), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and heptachlor were reported to be 4600, 1064,
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and 190 pg/m 3 , respectively (Plimmer and Johnson, 1991). The deposition of organic compounds in the Netherlands is estimated to be 89,000 tons per year (Plimmer and Johnson, 1991). However, a great many other types of pesticides were also measured in the atmosphere. Children encounter pesticides daily in air, food, dust, soil, and on surfaces through home and public lawn or garden application, household insecticide use, application to pets, and agricultural product residues. The most serious acute poisoning occurs after unintentional ingestion, although poisoning may also follow inhalational exposure or significant dermal exposure 6 . There is no current reliable way to determine the incidence of pesticide exposure and illness in US children.
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