>Deciding whether to label something a "problem" or not is a
>matter of policy, not chemistry.
apparently your own insight of the problem doesn't seem to be
much widespread among scientists. a lot of the publications will
contain some conclusion like "xx bears no risk", "bears only
small risks" or "bears a high risk for...".
the "degree/grade" of a "risk" is a social evaluation of a
scientific finding by society and should be used VERY carefully
and rarely by scientist (except as private opinion as a citizen
and this one has to stay out of his publications as a scientist).
"considerable risk" or "resulting in a statistically rate of
liver failure in 1 of every 10000 applications" would be the
correct way of description in the discussion part of the
publication. but: these sentences are rarely to be found. mostly
scientists can't hold the horses and feel the urgent need
to bring their own "risk enlightenment" to the readers..
>None of us said anything about analytic chemistry. We were all
>making the point that we find it a problem when manufactured
>substances which we have never used and in fact actively avoid
>contact with, nevertheless can be found in our bodies, as
>evidenced by being excreted by our bodies.
people seem to be VERY ambiguous about that. the fact, that
gasoline lead meanwhile can be found even in bodies of
indegenious tribes in the deepest djungle (to whom it would be
difficult to explain carburation, not to mention that they never
have even SEEN a motorcar) doesn't seem to have stopped people in
highly mobilized societies to use their cars (or nuclear plants
emissions or emitting sulphurdioxide in the air or pcbs even into
the arctic ice or forcing global warming (the inuit might wonder,
where all that entropy of energy might come from, maybe it's the
heat from the sealion's loss of fat in arctic winters)....
don't want to play the chloropyrifos problem down, but i have the
strong impression, that everyone is playing his OWN deck of
>Person B is not allowed to store his lawnmower in my garage.
my neighbour some weeks ago wondered about all the leaves in his
garden. especially because other than in my garden he only has
planted needle trees in his own ,-))
>His shoes are not under my bed;
your husband certainly will appreciate it !!! ;-))
>I have taken the opportunity to have 150 college students decide
>whether chloropyrifos in the urine is or is not a "problem," by
>giving the choice to them on an exam. They may choose either,
>provided only that they supply their reasoning. I'll let you
>know what they think when I'm done grading this mountain of
i'm very interested in the results. but would it not have been
wise to also ask them about a problem, they themselfes do create
and where they spill the residues on others not being involved
(like producing sulphuric rain in central africa from their
energy use or the cancer increase from the diesel soot produced
when driving to their girlfriends)? ask THAT question at first and
you will have a nice sociological study of selfishness in pink...
don't tax you, don't tax me,
tax the boy behind the tree.
yes, when i'm deeply earnest again, i'm aware, that it's a
problem of sustainability as a whole (and not only especially in
here are the basics for sustainable production (taken from peter
montague's rachels environmental & health weekly #650):
The Four Elements of Clean Production
According to various definitions developed over the years, there
are four main elements that make up the concept of Clean
1. The Precautionary Approach
When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or
human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if
some cause and effect relationships are not fully established
scientifically. [See REHW #586.] This places the burden of proof
on proponents of an activity to prove there is no safer way of
proceeding, rather than on victims or potential victims of the
activity to prove it will be harmful.
2. The Preventive Approach
It is cheaper and more effective to prevent environmental damage
than to attempt to manage or "cure" it. Prevention requires
examining the entire product life cycle from raw material
extraction to ultimate disposal. It encourages the exploration
of safer alternatives and the development of cleaner products
and technologies. For example, prevention requires process and
product changes to entirely avoid the generation of incinerable
waste streams by designing non-toxic products made from
materials that can be safely recycled or composted.
3. Democratic Control
Clean Production involves all those affected by industrial
activities, including workers, consumers and communities. Access
to information and involvement in decision-making, coupled with
power and resources, will help to ensure democratic control.
Clean Production can only be implemented with the full
involvement of workers and consumers within the product chain.
4. Integrated and Holistic Approach
Society must adopt an integrated approach to environmental
resource use and consumption. We need to think in a systems way.
For each product we buy, we need to have information accessible
about the materials, energy and people involved in making it.
Access to this information would help build alliances for
sustainable production and consumption. Integration also means
taking a holistic approach whereby we don't shift risks between
media or the environment and workers or consumers and don't
create new problems while addressing an older one (e.g., genetic
engineered plants as a replacement for pesticides).
Clean Production Criteria
1. Clean Production systems for food and manufactured
** Energy efficient;
** Made using renewable materials which are routinely
replenished and extracted in a manner that maintains the
viability of the ecosystem and community from which they were
** Made from non-renewable materials previously extracted but
able to be reprocessed in an energy efficient and non-toxic
2. The products are
** Durable and reusable;
** Easy to dismantle, repair and rebuild;
** Minimally and appropriately packaged for distribution using
reusable or recycled and recyclable materials; or
** compostable at the end of their life.
3. Above all, Clean Production systems
** Are non-polluting throughout their entire life cycle;
** Preserve diversity in nature and culture;
** Support the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
4. The life-cycle includes
** The product/technology design phase;
** The raw material selection and production phase;
** The product manufacture and assemblage phase;
** The consumer use of the product phase;
** The societal management of the materials at the end of the
useful life of the product.
the english social reformer john rifkin (1819-1900) explained it
like that (rough translation, wrong expressions are MY fault,
don't blame it on him):
"there is hardly anything in this world, which cannot be made a
little worse and a little cheaper by someone. people, who only
look for the price, will become the fair pray of such
machinations. it is unwise to pay too much, but it's even worse
to pay too little. if you pay too much, you are loosing some
money - that's all. but if you pay to little, you often are
loosing all the money, because the product, you paid for might
not be able to fulfill it's intended task at all. the law of
economy forbids, that you get much value for little money. if you
take the cheapest offer, you will need to add some money for the
possible risk of worthlessness you are taking. and if you do so,
you very often will have enough money to pay for the more
expensive, better and more sustainable product.
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