I also believe that there is a responsibility in the presentation of
information. Unfortunately, the message sent to sanet-mg on Saturday,
August 15th doesn't show that responsibility.
I believe that what the local media has chosen to do by running a series of
articles side by side is also irresponsible behavior. This is
irresponsibility through innuendo and the expectation that the readers will
tie two stories printed side by side together even though the facts say
The clear intent of the media was to have the reader link the presence of
EBD as a contaminant in the groundwater with the fact that there are
children in the community with leukemia. The author of this e-mail appears
to wish to continue that perception.
To the best of my knowledge, here are some of the facts, and the sources of
1. The EPA and the Center for Disease Control can find NO link between
ethylene dibromide (EDB) and childhood leukemia and they have been asked to
2. Washington State Cancer Registry found a statistically significant
elevated rate of a specific type of childhood leukemia in a 5 zipcode area
in Whatcom County. These 5 zip codes, however, encompass much more than the
area in which the soil fumigants have been used. The large cities in these
zip codes actually get their potable water from a entirely different source.
A study is being conducted to determine whether children in this area had
factors in common that might be related to the development of this type of
childhood leukemia. By the way, the mother with the two year old son who
died of leukemia does not live anywhere near the affected area, and is
up-gradient from any agricultural areas - but it made for a "good story".
3. I can not speak for the raspberry growers in Whatcom County, but what I
have heard them say is that the one proposed study should not be called
"raspberry land use" as there were other crops grown in the area that also
used soil fumigation. I do know that in the main area of the proposed test
wells, there were few raspberry fields during the time that EDB and 1,2 DCP
were used as fumigants, but there were extensive plantings of other crops
that used the same soil fumigation. There are raspberries in the ground
there today, but not years ago when these fumigants were used.
4. Depending on how you count, at least eight different studies of
groundwater have taken place in the aquifer in northern Whatcom County
Washington involving scores of wells by different university researchers and
state and federal agency personnel. There have been some detections of two
soil fumigants - EDB and 1,2 DCP with some over the federal MCL. These
detections have been in a limited number of locations. Contamination is not
widespread. Most wells are not contaminated.
5. The soil fumigants detected have not been registered or used for many years.
6. Keep in mind that the largest uses of these chemicals have been as an
additive to leaded gasoline, although that is not the suspected source for
7. No one in Whatcom County is happy about these detections, including the
farm families that rely on groundwater as their drinking water source.
I strongly believe that agriculture - mainstream, sustainable, and organic
need to operate in a manner that protects our natural resources. I also
believe that agriculture can accomplish that, with the right tools used in
an appropriate manner. It will take people working together to achieve that
Irresponsibility is inappropriate and not appreciated, by anyone. We each
need to be accountable for what we do and say. Finger pointing is so easy,
yet so unproductive.
Pest Management Manual for the Puget Sound - A Guide to Protecting Our
Clean Water for Washington - Why the Concern about Agricultural
Contamination in Groundwater?
Clean Water for Washington -Protecting Groundwater from Pesticide Contamination
And other related publications, and
County Extension Agent (farm advisor) for WSU Whatcom County Cooperative
Craig MacConnell WSU - Cooperative Extension
Internet: email@example.com Whatcom County, Bellingham, WA
tel 360.676.6736 fax 360.738.2458
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