Thursday, December 17, 2009

Drink up!

Because the health care fight is sometimes too depressing and infuriating to discuss, we here at These Bastards will move on to a lighter hearted subject that might bring a little smile to your face: you're drinking poison and you are going to DIE DIE DIE DIEDIEDIEDIE!!!! And it's legal. Further compounding the bad news, the problem spawned a thousand page and million word New York Times article. That's how much poison is in the glass of water that you aren't drinking because the office installed a Coke machine down the hall. If you weren't drinking so much high fructose corn syrup to shock your brain through another groggy morning, you'd probably be dead already.
The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.

Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

But not one chemical has been added to the list of those regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2000.

Other recent studies have found that even some chemicals regulated by that law pose risks at much smaller concentrations than previously known.
Yup, since 2004 over 64 million Americans have been exposed to water that did not meet "at least one commonly used government health guideline intended to help protect people from cancer or serious disease." Right now there is probably a tumor the size of Hervé Villechaize on your spine. I know this is largely a problem that hasn't been dealt with since 1974, but what do the phrases "no chemicals added to the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2000" and "increased cancer dangers for Americans since 2004" have in common? Our good friends in the Bush Administration. I think I know what they'd say: "The water meets the legal requirements and adding chemicals to the list would just have caused undue strain on the business community. Besides, it's not like our water is 'Yamuna River, New Dehli' bad."

And our drinking water isn't "New Delhi bad", but we might only have to wait a few years for that. On the bright side, some public health officials, like Dr. Pankaj Parekh of Los Angeles, who recognize the shortcomings of the laws and are trying to go above and beyond their duty to protect people from poison induced cancers are being thwarted... by the people they're trying to protect. I guess it is a fundamental American right to poison ourselves.

Don't worry, even though action on this is about a decade or two overdue, I'm sure our elected betters will get right on it and pass a law to fix things. I mean after all, this is something that both affects public health and the environment, so they'll probably get right on it. I mean if our government does handle two things competently it's major legislation on health care and the environment.

I think I'll go cry now.

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