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Re: NY Times on Child Cancer Rates

  > Today's (Monday) NY Times contains an article about
  > increased cancer rates in children and potential
  > environmental causes.
  cc: to Alex
  While the increase in child (and adult) cancer raises a large concern,
  I have to play the devil's advocate a little.  In the times article,
  the introductory paragraphs say the following:
      "The rate of cancer among American children has been rising 
       for decades. Although the reasons remain unclear, many experts
       suspect the increase may be partly the result of growing 
       exposure to new chemicals in the environment. 
       That suspicion, while still unproved, is beginning to shape 
       federal research priorities and environmental strategies."
  While I am quite positive that many chemicals do impact on both
  artificial and natural ecosystems, the explanations for the cancer may
  be more basic than pointing to *new* chemicals.  These are the answers
  that very few want to acknowledge -> that our older environmental
  habits of yesterday and our basic standards of life today may cause
  more of the problem than the new chemical plant a mile or two away.  
  Again, as the article says, the links between new chemicals and cancer
  is unproved.  Yet, we know of the enormous environmental damage
  vehicles do to our air and our environment - I can go into any urban
  environment and measure benzene and formaldehyde.  We know of all the
  things we have done in the past, such as the massive amounts of DDT
  sprayed around the nation.  And we are perfectly aware of all the
  different chemicals we feed into ourselves in the name of preserving
  our crops before and after harvest.  Not to mention our dietary habits
  in general.
  We also know that dioxins and other chemicals have an impact on both
  humans and the environment.  But dioxin exposure, PCBs, etc. have all
  dropped dramatically in the last decade.  Are those exposures from the
  past just now catching up with us? Or are we continually reaping the
  toll from our supposed increase in standard of living?  I am not saying
  industry is innocent or should be "left off the hook," but I hope we
  are not distracting from improving the impact of our daily lives -
  whether it be energy efficiency, household waste reduction, better
  farming techniques, mass transit, or just walking more.  
  Sam McClintock