Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nelsom Mandela and Flame Retardants (not that one relates to the other though)

“While I was walking in the city one day, I noticed a white woman in the gutter gnawing on some fish bones. She was poor and apparently homeless, but she was young and not unattractive. I knew of course that there were poor whites, whites who were every bit as poor as Africans, but one rarely saw them. I was used to seeing black beggards on the street, and it startled me to see a white one. While I normally did not give to African beggars, I felt the urge to give this woman money. In that moment I realized the tricks that apartheid plays on one, for the everyday travails that afflict Africans are accepted as a matter of course, while my heart immediately went out to this bedraggled white woman. In South Africa, to be poor and black was normal, to be poor and white was a tragedy.” Page 260.

"Our communal cell became a kind of convention for far flung freedom fighters. Many of us had been living under severe restrictions, making it illegal for us to meet and talk. Now, our enemy had gathered us all together under one roof for what became the largest and longest unbanned meeting of the Congress Alliance in years. Younger leaders met older leaders they had only read about. Men from Natal mingled with leaders from the Transvaal. We reveled in the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences for two weeks while we awaited trial.

Each day, we put together a program of activities. Patrick Molaoa and Peter Nthite, both prominent Youth Leaguers, organized physical training. Talks on a variety of subjects were scheduled, and we heard Professor Matthews discourse on both the history of the ANC and the American Negro, Debi Singh lectured on the histroy of SAIC, Arthur Letele discussed the African medicine man, while Reverend James Calata spoke on African music - and sang in his beautiful tenor voice. Every day, Vuyisile Mini, who years later was hanged by the government for political crimes, led the group in singing freedom songs . . . We sang at the top of our lungs, and it kept our spirits high." page 277


It may only be Wednesday but there have been two pretty powerful studies released on the health impacts on women from flame retardants. (I know you know all about them, because you read my posts religiously and everything I say sinks in and changes your life) . . (for the better!)

The first study was released on Monday and shows that women under 35 have higher concentrations of flame retardants in their breast milk. "A study of breast milk samples from more than 300 women in North Carolina finds flame retardants contaminate the milk from almost three-quarters of the woman in the study. Women older than 35 had the lowest levels of PBDEs in their milk. The highest levels were measured in breast milk from women aged 25 to 29, followed by women younger than 25 years old."

A group called MOMS, Make Our Milk Safe and co-founded by Mary Brune, the wife of the new Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune, have been advocating for the elimination of toxic chemicals because of just this and educating women on what a woman's body burden means to their unborn and nursing children. Here is a pretty good article published in Scientific America yesterday about this.

It is really important that women know the health benefits of breast feeding out weigh the potential hazards of passing along toxic chemicals through your breast milk. There is a really great educator and activist Sandra Steingraber once toured the country discussing the impacts of toxic chemicals on our body while breast feeding her daughter, as a way to show how important breast feeding is to our children's development. Pretty powerful.

The second report to be published this week is about the link between fertility and flame retardants. "Epidemiologists from the University of California at Berkeley studied 223 pregnant women in California’s Salinas Valley, an agricultural community with predominantly low-income, Mexican immigrants. More than 97 percent of the women had PBDEs in their blood, and those with high levels were half as likely to conceive in any given month as the women with low levels."

I often read about the dangers of toxic chemicals present in products that I own or want to own and their impacts on my body (yes, I want tons of babies myself one day) it's often overwhelming to think that these chemicals already exist in my body and nobody knows what the long term impacts are to me or to my future babies. Actually it is increasingly making me angry at my government that doesn't seem to care enough to act quickly and the corporations I give me small pennies to that just keep producing products and chemicals that will one day harm my children.

One thing that I can do though is make it known that brominated flame retardants are unnecessary and toxic to my family and the families of those that make and break down the products that contain them. So . . . the next time you buy something that contains brominated flame retardants such as a laptop or cell phone, ask questions and don't take 'i'm not sure' as an answer.

(1) Does this product contain brominated flame retardants?
(2) Do you have a plan to safely handle the end of life of this product?

If the answers wouldn't satisfy me, then tell them why you won't be buying their products anymore. Companies listen to their customers and will begin to act when we put enough pressure on them.


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