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Toxics in Our Environment

Are you safe where you live? Your house could be within striking distance of a toxic mill site. Click here to find out more about environmental toxics at mill sites in Northern California.

Since the industrial revolution over 75,000 synthetic chemicals have been developed and used in consumer products and manufacturing processes. Release of these chemicals from industrial sites has led to a buildup of toxics in our environment of global proportion. In fact, each of us has industrial chemicals stored in or passing through our bodies. As chemicals like pentachlorophenol, dioxins and furans make their way up the food chain - from plants and fish to humans - they accumulate in greater density and become more threatening in every link.

In 1962, Rachel Carson warned of the dangers of man-made chemicals to the environment and to humans in her book, Silent Spring, concluding, "our fate is connected with the animals". The effects of synthetic chemicals on wildlife include decreased hatching success in fish, birds and turtles, reproductive abnormalities and decreased fertility in fish, birds, reptiles and mammals, behavioral abnormalities in birds, and compromised immune systems in birds and mammals.

Was Rachel Carson right? It is presently hypothesized that man-made endocrine-disrupting chemicals are  indeed affecting human health and the evidence supporting this hypothesis is mounting. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has measured dioxins and PCBs in samples from umbilical cord blood, placentas and other fetal tissue. Not only are the young exposed to toxic chemicals in the womb, mothers also pass along toxics in their breast milk. Research suggests that the chemicals may be implicated in the rise of several reproductive disorders in humans over the past few decades, including reduced sperm counts and increased breast cancer. They may also be associated with reduced intellectual capacity and behavioral problems.

The Ecological Rights Foundation (ERF) is concerned both about human exposures to these chemicals from the use of consumer products, and about toxic exposures, to workers, communities and the environment, from industrial sites. To address the issue of toxics in our environment, ERF’s initial focus is on Northern California lumber companies’ use of wood preserving chemicals at Mill sites. Click here to learn more>>