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health risk
pied piper of hamelin
unpleasant memories
childhood diseases
world war ii
great depression
Our Dangerous Planet: Environmental Health Risk
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Our Dangerous Planet: Environmental Health Risk

I’m an old man so I have a list of unpleasant memories related to health.

My sister suffered from polio which she contracted when she was three years old. The after effects ended her life when she was nineteen years old. There were other childhood diseases which brought the Board of Health to our door. They hung a sign in our window: Chicken Pox, Measles, or the dreaded Polio sign.

My grandmother died in our home of a cerebral hemorrhage. Two women in our church died in childbirth.

Six of my friends died by automobile accident. Two were hit by a cement truck on its way to the Remington Arms munition factory in our town while they were riding double on a bike. A brother and sister were hit later when the factory was running as they were crossing a viaduct. A sleepy WAC driver ran over them with an army truck carrying ammunition to the railroad depot.

Two of my friends died in the Jordan River in Salt Lake City, where I was raised, when one tried to save his brother from drowning. I was only a quarter mile away listening to my grandfather play his accordion in the band stand at Riverside Park for those who had seen us walking down the street to the park and followed us just as the rats and then the kids followed the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

One of my friends died in a fall while climbing a fence to steal coal from a local coal yard (things were hard, it was the Great Depression). His siblings picked him up and laid him in their wagon with his head hanging over the end of the wagon which was deleterious to his broken neck.

One of my friends lost his father to suicide. Another friend died in a theater fire. One died of appendicitis. A former scoutmaster of our church died of a heart attack. My sister’s father-in-law died of pneumonia. I'm talking about things I saw first hand.

World War II and Our Other Wars

When a person was drafted or joined the military, the family was given a star to hang in the window. It started with a blue star.

I watched the stars change to bronze for a missing warrior, to silver to one who had been wounded, and gold for those killed, two of which were good friends of our family, Virgil Broderick and Orville McDaniel, good skiers who died with the Tenth Mountain Division in Italy.

For a high percentage of my 81 years on this planet, we have been at war. Before that, by father and my uncle served in WWI, the Great War where gas was used to kill people, phosgene and mustard gas and chlorine gas. I knew veterans who were gassed and suffered for years and years.

Hitler continued to use gas in his death camps.

Our country was well prepared to use gas in WWII. We had a phosgene accident in Denver and the hospital was ready to treat a large number of people in case of such an attack because the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was in our area. When I was in Iowa, I became a consultant to the Governor on phosgene because the Government wanted to transport it by rail across our state. You’ve heard of train accidents and factory accidents were people were killed or maimed by escaping gas.

My war was Korea. Nobody wanted a war after we just ended the horrific WWII where from 40-60 million died. So the Korean War was ignored and we were forced to fight it with junk left over from WWII. But many died. Some are still wasting away in Veteran's hospitals.

Then we spend ten years in Vietnam where men fought and died under horrible conditions. Many suffered from PTSD as do many from the two Bush wars, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Finally we are getting out of Afghanistan, a stupid place to go in the first place after the Soviet fiasco.

It kills me to see how so many of our service people have been maimed or killed by roadside bombs.

Our Environmental Risk: The Air We Breathe, The Water We Drink and The Food We Eat

We are sometimes exposed to undesirable chemicals in our employment. I worked with asbestos before I went to Korea and after I got home and was attending the University of Utah. I guess there was some exposure when I was relining brakes in my uncles service station.

In Iowa, I was an expert witness, identifying the nature of the asbestos that workers had been exposed to.

After WWII, the government tested atomic weapons in Nevada. People in Utah and here in Idaho were exposed. Folks are still dying from cancer here from that exposure. A large area of the Pacific was exposed by such testing.

I was flying over Europe when Chernobyl in the Ukraine occurred. I wanted to hold my breath. And we had an accident right here in Idaho where people were killed and exposed. The tsunami in Japan caused the Fukushima disaster.

I worked with beryllium compounds. Fortunately under Atomic Energy Commission restraints but many were injured or died because of beryllium when it was used in the lighting industry.

OSHA has a big listing of dangerous compounds found in the work place.

When Mount Saint Helens blew her top, she emitted plumes of dust into the atmosphere that traveled around the world. Recent Icelandic eruptions stop air traffic for days. Anciently, super volcanoes in Siberia put the globe in a freezing funk that probably caused one of the earth’s six (6) extinction periods.

I see that Mount Etna is again erupting, if it ever stopped.

Automobiles, factories, even dairies and feedlots pollute the air.

And we pollute our own air with cigarette smoke.

Idaho sits on a great aquifer but it is under danger of pollution just like the one under the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, home of the Jersey Devil. Our surface water has been polluted for a long time. Cleaning water is big business.

Because the ground and water and air is polluted, so is our food.

The USDA reports foods that may contain bacterial that can kill you.

But there are other more potent dangers from foods. It is the relationships between fat and disease. Heart disease runs in my family and I have had two heart surgeries and have an artificial aortic valve. Several family members have died of heart disease at a early age.

I have Type II diabetes. Subcutaneous fat is the cause, the fat you can not see but surrounds our organs and retards their proper function. This was proven to be true at the University of Newcastle in England and the researchers there have helped reduce the affects of diabetes. The secret is to lower your food intake if you are overweight and to reduce fat especially from diary products. (I'll be shot here in Idaho for saying that.)

New York tried to stop large soda drinks. Energy drinks are what I call Drink and Drop drinks because they

boost you up and then dump you like a ton of bricks. There are much better and more nutritional energy drink alternatives.

What Can We Do to Reduce or Exposure to Health Risk?

I guess we could move to a safer planet. Can you imagine a planet where the earth is not erupting, shaking, shifting the water around to flood us, the wind is mild and never destructive, where harmful things are not being continually invented, where there is no governmental agency approving dangerous drugs?

That sounds like the Promised World to Come.

Meanwhile, we must live on this world as it is, the troublesome Mother Earth in our most dangerous universe. We have to watch what we take into our bodies, avoid dangerous situations, use common sense.

Well, I must know something about that. I'm 81 and plan to go fishing in Alaska this summer with family members and to see my granddaughter who lives there.

Maybe bears will eat me.


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