Love Canal

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Support “The Canal” Documentary about the Love Canal Disaster

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A team of documentary filmmakers have worked for three years to complete a project on Love Canal, telling the story of the disaster and documenting the testimonies of those still affected by toxic chemicals in the Love Canal area. They are now raising the money they need to finish editing the film and get it out to the world.

According to the filmmakers, the documentary has two goals:

“The first is to save the families living in Love Canal today. And save is not too big a word: the rates of leukemia, miscarriages, and heart conditions are through the roof. Babies conceived in the area are at a hugely elevated risk of having birth defects…

The second goal is what effects us all. There are practically no safeguards between you and toxic chemicals either in the products you use or in the waste streams where they are deposited. The current laws do not require a company to prove that a chemical is safe before it is used. We must amend this law so that we can live without this unnecessary risk. We believe there is a way for companies to make money while behaving responsibly. This film introduces people to this debate through one of the most infamous chemical disasters. It tells a specific human story that affects us all and hopefully will inspire us to demand change.”

To follow updates about the film, visit their Facebook Page.

To contribute to the film, visit their Fundraising Page.

Citizen Science Draws Roots in the Love Canal Experience

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I had the good fortune to participate in the defense of a Master’s degree thesis at Tufts University recently where CHEJ has donated many of its records to be archived. The topic of the thesis by Nolan Nicaise was Housewife Data: Citizen Science and the Case of Love Canal. Being a part of this process made me realize that the “science” that the residents of Canal Love Canal did was one of the first examples of “citizen’s science.”

Citizen’s science has many meanings but in general it can be defined as people who are not trained as scientists doing scientific work. When Lois Gibbs went door-to-door gathering health information from her neighbors, she had no idea that she was doing what is now generally called “citizen science.” Lois was only interested in gathering evidence to help convince the state health department that the problems at Love Canal were not confined to the neighborhood that had already been evacuated. Lois used the data she collected to show that people living outside the first evacuation zone also had health problems. This data became the basis not only for educating the public and the media, but also the state health officials. This citizen survey found high rates of birth defects and other reproductive problems that prompted the state to do its own investigation that found the same rate of birth defects as the residents did. These findings became the basis for the temporary evacuation of pregnant women and children under the age of two, an interim measure that was a prelude to the evacuation of the entire neighborhood.

Citizen science efforts such as the one carried out by the residents at Love Canal are typically  designed to engage the public in scientific investigations, such as asking questions, collecting data, or interpreting results. Citizen science can include volunteer monitoring, public participation in scientific research, and many other activities

Love Canal is but one example of citizen science. Others include the efforts of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade in New Orleans where there are numerous refineries, chemical plants, and other air polluters. This group monitors air quality using air samplers made from five gallon buckets. When conducted properly, an air quality sample can provide reliable data needed to bring a case against polluters. For more information, see http://www.labucketbrigade.org/article.php?list=type&type=136

In Newark, NJ, local residents and students used air monitors to measure small particulate matter known as PM 2.5 which can contribute to asthma and cancer. The evidence gathered by these residents was used to push their legislators. For more information, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uevr3vjWDt8

In Tonawanda, NY, citizen science was used to link chronic illness to 53 air polluters within the community. High levels of benzene were found by residents using an improvised five gallon bucket system. This finding led the state to conduct its own study of air quality that confirmed the high level of benzene as well as several other chemicals exceeding federal guidelines. EPA and NY state brought enforcement actions against the largest polluter. For more information, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZKxn1nioNA

The Global Community Monitor trains and assists community groups to conduct air testing primarily near disempowered “fenceline” communities. GCM developed and pioneered the use of “bucket brigades” as a method for communities to document and understand the impacts of industrial pollution. This fall, GCM is sponsoring a conference on citizen science to be held in New Orleans. For more information, see http://www.gcmonitor.org/

The US Environmental Protection Agency has a number of good resources on citizen science including those listed below:

http://www.epa.gov/region2/citizenscience/

http://www.epa.gov/research/priorities/docs/citizen-science-fact-sheet.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/region2/citizenscience/pdf/citsci_additional_resources_attachment.pdf

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Move Over Academy — The Activist Awards

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Counter Punch By RALPH NADER

The annual Academy Awards Gala, viewed by one billion people worldwide, is scheduled for the evening of March 2, 2014. Motion pictures and the people who act in and produce them are center stage. Apart from the documentaries, this is a glittering evening of “make-believe” and “make business.”

Now suppose our country had another Academy Awards Gala for citizen heroes – those tiny numbers of Americans who are working successfully fulltime in nonprofit groups to advance access to justice, general operations of our faltering democratic society, and the health, safety, and economic well-being of all citizens. .

This must sound unexciting in comparison with the intensity of the world of film. Until you see what these unsung people do in your local communities, your state, and your country. Then let’s see if you think what my choice of civic heroes do every day isn’t exciting. They are selected because they work in groups associated either directly or indirectly with me over the course of several decades.

1. Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety and an engineer and lawyer. Mr. Ditlow has forced the auto companies to recall millions of defective motor vehicles, has brought auto companies to justice on many occasions in courts of law, and puts out volumes of information to inform elected representatives and the public about the need for stronger federal regulation of the resisting auto industry.

2. Jamie Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International. As a mere high school graduate, he stunned specialists with the brilliance of his written analysis of energy subjects in Alaska. Mr. Love has been on the move all over the world challenging the tax-subsidized, highly profitable drug companies to stop gouging millions of patient-victims with “pay or die” marketing schemes. Big Pharma endured a rare defeat when Mr. Love convinced Ministers of Health and Dr. Yusuf Hamied, head of India’s CIPLA Pharmaceutical, in 2001 to break the $10,000 per patient per year drug treatment for AIDS and bring the cost down to $300 per year (http://fireintheblood.com).

3. Dr. Michael Jacobson was a young PhD student in biochemistry at MIT when I interviewed him for a position with us. I told him we were looking for long-termers. He nodded. Nearly forty-five years later, Dr. Jacobson, having started the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has done more than anyone to document and brightly publicize enjoyable nutritional diets with less salt, sugar and fat. His Center knows how to communicate. Nutrition Action goes to 90,000 subscribers. He sends messages to your stomach in order to stimulate your mind.

 

4. Al Fritsch, another scientist PhD, joined us at the same time as did Michael Jacobson. He didn’t spend much time in Washington before he returned to his home region of Appalachia where he started the Appalachia Center for Science in the Public Interest. Applied science and technology, as if people mattered most, was his credo. He pioneered simple, old and new ways – for example, to preserve the land and forest, make the drinking water safe, and grow more food – that he conveyed to local people of all ages who then became community scientists innovating themselves.

5. Lois Gibbs started as a mother and housewife until she saw what the chemicals seeping through the ground of their middle-income housing project in Niagara Falls were doing to residents, especially children. She then became unstoppable, moving from protesting for a cleanup to starting theCenter for Health, Environment and Justice in 1981 with chapters and activists all over the country taking on and often winning the battle against the silent violence of reckless industries.

6. Dr. Sidney Wolfe founded with me the Health Research Group of Public Citizen. Do you want to see what a small group of half a dozen people can accomplish in getting rid of hundreds of prescription and over the counter drugs “that don’t work?” Or do you want to learn how Dr. Wolfe has kept the Food and Drug Administration’s feet to the fire and held many doctors accountable to professional standards? Or how about investigating scores of harmful conditions bred by the avarice or incompetence of the medical/hospital/drug industry complex (http://www.citizen.org/healthletter)?

7. Joan Claybrook, went from heading our immense Congress project, that issued magazine-sized profiles of every member of Congress going for re-election in 1972, to running the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for President Jimmy Carter, and then to the presidency of Public Citizen for nearly thirty years without missing a beat. The auto companies called her “the Dragon Lady.” A fixture on Capitol Hill, she roared down the corridors on behalf of safety protections for millions of Americans.

8. Karen Ferguson started, a few years out of Harvard Law School, with my help the Pension Rights Center (PRC) in 1976. Karen and her staff dedicated themselves completely to being a watchdog of Congress, the Department of Labor, and a myriad of corporations, proposing legislative and regulatory changes and responding to the growing crisis of declining or looted traditional pensions for millions of workers. One of the biggest economic injustices in our economy is the loss or shredding of defined benefit pensions which either aren’t being replaced or are replaced by exploitable 401(k)s. Trillions of dollars and millions of families are affected – luckily, the PRC and Ms. Ferguson are there year in and year out.

9. Robert Fellmeth in 1970 brought hundreds of eager law students from Harvard and other law schools to work with us. In a short time he authored or co-authored three large books, then went to California to become a prosecutor, then combined a career as law professor, litigator and leading public advocate for children through his Children’s Advocacy Institute. No one can ever outwork or out-produce Fellmeth. His example has prompted his associates to coin the word “Fellmethian.” His emphasis on children – protection, legislation, lawsuits, exposes, and a unique annual California Children’s Budget only provide a glimmer of this creative civic giant’s prodigious successes.

10. Robert Vaughn, when in his mid-twenties, chose our project on the federal civil servants. His work became a book titled The Spoiled System (1975). Over forty years later he teaches at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., is an expert on civil servant law and is the world’s leading authority on whistle-blowing in dozens of countries (see The Successes and Failures of Whistleblower Laws, Edward Elgar, 2012). He has inspired hundreds of law students in treating law as justice and practicing along that pathway.

11. John Richard, has worked with us since 1979 becoming a peerless networker and adviser for citizen groups, their leaders and staff on all kinds of subjects. In his thirty-five years, he has participated in more gatherings and action meetings on more topics than anyone. This has nourished the wisdom of his assistance to scores of civic advocates who seek his help. Mr. Richard avoids taking any credit but his daily low-key pushing forward of the train of justice speaks for itself.

These people of significance, and many more stalwarts who labor in the vineyards of a better life for all Americans, receive far less public attention than cartoon characters, misbehaving entertainers and athletes, and carousing politicians.

The more difficult, despairing, and overburdened are the livelihoods of millions of hard-pressed Americans, the more they spend time becoming spectators of mass entertainment and sports as a distraction and relief from their painful and desperate situations.

A drama-filled activist award night for civic courage and creativity will inspire millions of viewers to try their hand at operating the levers of power for the good of our society. And what is more dramatic than real life struggles and successes for justice against the bullies, the greedhounds and the authoritarians who presently make up the few who rule the many?

Dare it be said that the more people immerse themselves in learning about these heroics, the more compelling will be their civic interest and passion. Certainly there is more meaning to their daily lives than watching “make-believe” or someone putting a ball in a hoop or into the ground.

Where is the enlightened billionaire who can launch such a televised national activist awards evening for the greatest work of humans on Earth – which is advancing justice?

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Counter Punch February 13, 2014

Touring with Lois Gibbs

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If you haven’t read the story “From homemaker to hell-raiser in Love Canal”, you should. And to make it easier here’s the link.

In the story I loved what Luella Kenny, another Love Canal activist had to say about Lois. “She was like a hurricane and we just kept going.” This reminded me of the Toxic Tour that Lois and I took around Ohio a couple of years ago. We traveled to all corners of the state, covering over 900 miles in just 4 days. I think of Lois as having the energy of the Energizer Bunny. With every community we visited it was like someone put new batteries in her and off she went. She is a tireless fighter for what is right.

The writer of “From homemaker to hell-raiser in Love Canal” described the Center for Health, Environment & Justice office as “being squired in a third-floor corner office in a nondescript building in Fairfax County, Va., a few miles from Washington, D.C. A tiny gray sign hangs outside the door, betraying no sense of the history inside.” While all true, those inside find no need of fancy offices in expensive buildings. It is more important to fight for what is right for the environment and the grassroots community groups we work with. The CHEJ extended family is a very close group of individuals. We celebrate together, we are sad together, we have disagreements with each other, and we hug each other. The CHEJ family includes all the community groups that we have ever worked with. Boy what a family reunion that would be if we ever all got together.

I won’t start naming names because I know I would leave someone out but, to all of you out there that are the Lois Gibbs of your community I say thank you for doing what you have done or are doing. If we haven’t heard from you for a while, give us a call to let us know how you are doing.

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From Homemaker to Hell Raiser in Love Canal

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Lois Gibbs took to the stage that day 35 years ago, in the seemingly idyllic community of Love Canal, N.Y., and began to find her voice. Transforming herself from homemaker to hell-raiser, she helped convince then-President Jimmy Carter to come to town in 1980 and remove 900 families from a 21,000-ton toxic dump. Read more.

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Making a Bad Decision Worse – Reselling Homes at Love Canal

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Earlier this week, three families living in what was once the Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls, NY filed a lawsuit against the state of New York for $113 million. The lawsuit alleges that the Love Canal landfill – with over 20,000 tons of toxic waste still sitting in the midst of this suburban neighborhood – is leaking and that people living nearby have become ill from chemicals coming from the landfill.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the toxic waste crisis at Love Canal that led to the evacuation and relocation of over 900 families who lived around the toxic waste landfill. The events at Love Canal marked an important moment in history. It led directly to a sea change in how the country manages toxic waste; it was the impetus to the passage of the federal Superfund law that provides funds to clean up the worst toxic waste sites in the country; and it was the catalyst to the birth of a movement of grassroots leaders and community based organizations that changed the environmental movement in this country.

Lois Gibbs, who led the community efforts at Love Canal and who founded and is still CHEJ’s executive director, warned against resettling any of the homes around the Love Canal landfill. In a letter to the US EPA in 1989, Gibbs argued against allowing the area to be resettled for two basic reasons. First, the 20,000 tons of toxic waste that were dumped into the landfill remained in the middle of the neighborhood. The cleanup plan did not remove any of the waste and there were many uncertainties about whether the containment system would work, especially since there was no liner at the bottom of the landfill. Second, there were unacceptable levels of toxic chemicals throughout the Love Canal neighborhood including the areas targeted for resettlement. The cleanup plan did not address contamination outside the fence that surrounded the landfill, in areas where homes, once evacuated, were resold to innocent people who thought the area was safe.

Many of the new residents, some of whom I have personally talked with, believed the area was safe. It’s what the developers told them and what government officials led them to believe. Yet in 1988 when the state completed its evaluation of the contamination throughout the neighborhood, they never concluded that the area was safe. In fact, they found that 4 of the 7 sections of the Love Canal neighborhood were not habitable. And in the sections where homes were resettled, all they were comfortable saying was that it was as “habitable as other areas of Niagara Falls.”

What they did not say was that none of the Love Canal neighborhood was habitable after their first analysis which compared the levels of contamination in Love Canal to two neighboring towns. This conclusion was not politically acceptable, so they did a second analysis. This time they compared the levels of contamination in Love Canal to two selected areas of Niagara Falls. Both of these areas were suspiciously contaminated with many of the same chemicals found at Love Canal. Not surprisingly, they found the contaminant levels in Love Canal to be similar to the contaminant levels in these two select areas of Niagara Falls.  I doubt the people who bought resettled homes at Love Canal would have done so if they had known how this decision was made.

Love Canal was never habitable and people never should have been allowed to move back in. To get a copy of Lois’ letter to EPA or to learn more about the New York state habitability decision, contact CHEJ at info@chej.org.

Lois Love Canal

35 Years of Progress Since Love Canal

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This year marks a very significant date – the 35th anniversary of the Love Canal crisis. It is hard to believe it has been that long and in recognizing this fact of life, I realize that entire generations have been born since who may know little or nothing about Love Canal and how the environmental health and justice movement began.

History is important and we need to find ways to tell the story so that we don’t repeat our mistakes and we can reap the benefits of lessons learned through oral histories. One key lesson from Love Canal is that a blue collar community with next to no resources was able to win its fight for justice and open the eyes of the nation and the world to the serious problems of environmental chemicals and their effects on public health.

Thanks to Mark Kitchell, an Oscar nominated and well known filmmaker (Berkeley in the Sixties), there’s now a compelling and thought provoking film that can be used as a tool in educating younger generations about Love Canal and the history of the environmental movement and engaging them and re-engaging the rest of us in the fight for a healthy planet. What is exciting about A Fierce Green Fire is that this film, which includes a prominent segment on Love Canal, demonstrates in real footage that change happens when people get involved.

“The main difference between my film and a lot of other environmental films is that instead of it being focused on the issues, ours is focused on the movement and activism,” said Mark Kitchell in an interview. “I feel that telling stories of activists, taking up the battle and fighting, is the best way to explicate the issues. And that was my main handle on the environmental subject, doing the movement story,” adds Kitchell. The film, narrated by such notables as Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Ashley Judd among others, received great reviews at Sundance.

As CHEJ moves forward this coming year, we are partnering with groups across the country who would like to show the film in a theater setting, at small group gatherings or house events and have a conversation about how change happens and what they might do differently in their efforts to win on environmental and environmental health and justice issues. Partnering with groups, we hope to also bring media attention to their local issues and raise funds for their group and CHEJ. It’s a plan that’s hard to pass up.

If your group is interested in hosting a local viewing, please contact CHEJ. Together we can inspire people to take action to protect health and our planet.

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Love Canal Déjávu – Ground Hog Day?

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I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing when I clicked on a link that connected me with a news story about Love Canal by the local ABC TV station in Buffalo. There in front of a camera was a young woman who reminded me of myself 35 years ago. Christen Morris talked about chemicals that have become visible, about trees dying, pets with cancer and growths, and many people who are sick.

I can remember saying those same words, making that same case in 1978 to EPA and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Wow. At the same time as Ms Morris and others were speaking out about problems in the neighborhood, classmates who attended the 93rd Street School were sharing notes. 93rd Street School was located in the northern part of the community, and also demolished due to contamination. Former students, at a class reunion, began exchanging notes about how sick they were finding common concerns and disease. They believe their health related problems might be linked to exposure to Love Canal chemicals during their elementary school years.

Former student Laura Racine said, “I went to the reunion and decided to seek out all the kids that went to the 93rd Street School with and see if they were having health issues as well. And nine out of ten of them were having health issues.”

It is so hard to watch these news stories. It has never made any sense to me or other former residents of the area, why the state and federal government insisted on repopulating the northern part of the evacuation area or why they refused to follow the young children from both 99th and 93rd Street Schools. These are innocent people who were children and whose parents were assured that no long term health problems were likely. The public was assured that Love Canal was cleaned up, when actually the 20,000 tons of chemicals are still there, still in the center of the dump. Only a clay cap and trench system to capture anything that might move out horizontally was put in place. There’s absolutely no science that supports the government’s theory that the chemicals will stay put. All landfills leak and Love Canal is no exception. In fact, the Love Canal dump has no bottom. So, it leaks chemicals out the bottom every time the Niagara River levels drops . . . like in August for example.

The families living around the dump are not to blame. So many people want to – blame the victims. People were assured by every imaginable government agency that everything is fine. The most frequently used phrase to people who inquired was, “Love Canal is the most tested neighborhood in the country.” Of course that doesn’t mean its safe but those words along with assurance of safety people became convinced.

It will be painful to watch the new effort unfold as families with sickness and questions struggle to get those answers. I plan on helping where I can. To see recent news story click here.

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Concerned about Pollution Near Schools…The EPA has a Guide for That

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EPA Releases Voluntary Guidelines to Aide School Districts when Building a New School

It’s finally here!
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its voluntary School Siting Guidelines. Now school districts can look towards a federal policy model on guidance when constructing a new school facility. We applaud the EPA for gathering community input when constructing these guidelines. Communities across the country can use this tool to help facilitate siting a school that ensures the safety of children and staff.
CHEJ Leading the Way
For a decade, CHEJ has been working with concerned parents groups, teachers’ unions and community groups to address a range of toxic hazards facing schools in America. The problem of building schools in contaminated areas was first discovered in 1979 when the Niagara Falls 99th St. School was found next to the Love Canal site containing 20,000 tons of toxic waste. This should have served as a warning. Sadly, it did not. Thousands of schools are located near toxic waste sites or major sources of air pollution, such as chemical plants or incinerators.
“It is in excusable to place school children in harm’s way”, said Lois Gibbs, Executive Director of CHEJ. “Children are required by law to go to school. Schools must be a safe place for children to learn and play not a place that endangers their health and ability to learn.”
In 2002, CPOC and partner organizations analyzed five states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, and Michigan. The purpose of this analysis was to approximate how many public schools were within ½ mile of a known contaminated site. The results were astounding! Over 1,100 schools in just these five states are within ½ mile of a contaminated site, negatively impacting the health of over 600,000 students.
The EPA approved the construction of the Keith Middle School in New Bedford, MA the cleanup, or “remediation” of the former Parker Street Waste Site and construction of the school complex has cost taxpayers to date $78 million of the $103.6 million budget for the project. Toxic chemicals found at the site are: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin, volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and heavy metals, including arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury. If exposed, some of these chemicals can pose health hazards. Read more …
Then in 2005, CHEJ analyzed how many states regulate school siting (50 State Survey Table Results and Column Description) and take into consideration potential site contamination. Only five states have any law that makes it illegal to build a school on a contaminated site. The other 45 states are mostly silent. With health experts, engineers, and community organizations, CHEJ created its own model of School Siting Legislation. Communities can use the model as a base to create laws that fit their specific needs and criteria in their local area.
In 2007, President Bush signed Subtitle E of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, instructing the EPA to develop the nation’s first ever school siting guidelines to give state legislatures direction in where schools maybe physically located in relationship to toxic contaminated sites.
Since 2008, CHEJ has been leading the charge to urge the EPA to fulfill its mandate. We built an alliance of parents, teachers, unions, professionals and other stakeholders to force the EPA to address the problem of schools being built near sources of pollution.
Coming Soon …
In November 2011, CPOC will be releasing resources that will further assist communities that are dealing with sources of pollution near schools (new or existing).
The final release of the EPA School Siting Guidelines was an extraordinary victory demonstrating the power of the grassroots!
If we work together, our voices will be heard!
For additional information, contact Makia Burns, CHEJ’s Childproofing Our Communities Campaign Coordinator at (703) 237-2249 x21.

A Warning for the Next Generation

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Young protester at Love Canal

Many people worry about getting cancer and rightfully so, but one of the most consistent and sensitive targets of toxic chemicals is the reproductive system. This was evident again in a follow-up study of the residents of Love Canal in Niagara Falls, NY that was published last month. Adverse reproductive effects were the sentinel for health problems throughout the Love Canal experience. High rates of birth defects and miscarriages led to the initial evacuation in 1978 of homes immediately adjacent to 20,000 tons of toxic waste buried in the Love Canal landfill, to the temporary relocation of pregnant women and families with children under the age of two a year later, and eventually to the evacuation of another 700 families in 1980.

Now it seems, the next generation of Love Canal children are also at risk. Thirty years after the contamination of this upstate New York neighborhood sparked a mass exodus a new analysis by the New York State Department of Health finds that maternal exposure to chemicals from the Love Canal landfill is associated with an elevated risk of bearing a child with an adverse reproductive outcome. This study found that women who lived in the designated emergency zone while pregnant prior to the time of evacuation had a higher risk of having a preterm birth compared to women from other regions of the state. This effect was statistically significant. There was also a greater than expected frequency of congenital malformations among Love Canal boys born from 1983 to 1996. These birth defects occurred in infants born to mothers who previously lived at Love Canal. The rate of these birth defects was about 50% higher than in boys born to mothers who lived in upstate NY. In addition, the ratio of male to female births was lower for children conceived at Love Canal. Lastly, women exposed as children had an increased risk of giving birth to a low weight baby.

These findings are consistent with the initial findings at Love Canal that led to the evacuation of the community. The initial findings had identified lower birth weight and increased congenital birth defects in infants, but were limited in defining the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes because of small sample sizes.

This study, published in the journal Environment Research, is extraordinary because it looked at the reproductive outcomes of women after their exposure had stopped compared to other studies which typically evaluate health effects at the time when exposures occurred.  In this case, the authors evaluated whether reproductive effects persisted after exposures had ceased.  In some cases, exposures to Love Canal chemicals occurred only when the women were children!

These remarkable findings point out the subtle impact of exposure to toxic chemicals. They are a red flag for health concerns – especially for women of child bearing age – at other contaminated sites across the country. The study highlights how little we really know about low level exposures to toxic chemicals. An abstract of the article is available at <Environmental Research http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2011.04.002>.