Kudos to Bruce Selcraig for "What You Don't Know Can Hurt
You" (January/ February). It is true, as he wrote, that the Toxic
Release Inventory (TRI) is one of the greatest environmental tools given
to communities in 20 years. Yet too few people know about it.
I had only vaguely heard of the TRI myself when Mike Meuser, who is
working toward a doctorate in environmental sociology at UC Santa Cruz,
began a project using TRI data. He and I embarked on an Internet mapping
project together, creating a first-of-its-kind community map of TRI data
in the Santa Cruz area. We posted it on the Internet and included information
about the polluting chemicals at www.mapcruzin.com/scruztri.
As a result of our project, people will be better able to participate
in making decisions that involve protection of the environment and their
health from the adverse effects of toxic pollution. Informed communities
do make healthy communities. We're hoping to expand our work to other regions.
Far more people need this information. Marie Clary
Santa Cruz, California firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's note: In our January/February issue, we printed an incorrect
World Wide Web address for obtaining TRI data from the EPA. The correct
address is www.epa.gov/tri/.
I was very disturbed by the information in the January/February issue
on hormone-disrupting chemicals ("Hormone Impostors"). The article
should have been called wildlife genocide. We as humankind are deciding
which species survive and which are eliminated through the use of synthetic
chemicals. We as a society must change the way we value and view the lives
of the wild. Mary Winn
Thanks for your article on Our Stolen Future ("Hormone Impostors").
Do you suppose that the chemical industry and our legislators would be
more concerned about the environmental prevalence of hormone mimics and
antagonists if it were emphasized that prenatal hormones seem to control
the development of adult sexual orientation in humans? Yadviga Dowmont-Halsey
My own experience and the use of these chemicals provide some (admittedly
nonquantitative) counterexamples to the thesis of endocrine disruption.
I recall that in the decade following World War II, DDT was available
in the grocery store, and we, like other families, sprayed it around the
kitchen with our flit sprayer. Yet my generation produced the "baby
boom"; my husband and I have four children and most of their schoolmates'
families included three or four or more children. One of my children is,
for completely unrelated reasons, a DES daughter, and she has had no reproductive
problems either. I am a chemist, and spent the years from about 1950 to
1974 working with many of these substances in laboratories that were poorly
ventilated. This is not an argument for widespread use of DDT, or for the
use of DES in pregnancy, or for a return to pre-OSHA laboratory conditions,
which were appalling. Any epidemiology of endocrine disruption should explain
and include such counterexamples, however. Ruth Weiner
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Author Dianne Dumanoski replies: The real-life experience cited by Ms.
Weiner is not inconsistent with the endocrine disruption hypothesis. Wildlife
studies and laboratory experiments with animals have shown that adults
can often tolerate sizable doses of such persistent compounds as DDT or
dioxin without evidence of impaired reproduction. So it is not remarkable
that those first exposed to DDT as adults after World War II produced a
Hormone-disrupting chemicals are not ordinary poisons and do not behave
according to the traditional principles of toxicology. In many instances,
the timing of the exposure is more important than the intensity of the
dose. Because hormones play a vital role in orchestrating early development,
these compounds pose the greatest hazard to those first exposed in the
womb. At this vulnerable time of life, a tiny dose of a hormonally active
chemical may disrupt development and have lifelong consequences. Here again,
timing is all. The precise timing of exposure may explain why some women
whose mothers took DES suffered devastating damage to their reproductive
systems while others did not.
Surely Carl Pope would not object to my providing "the rest of
the story" on the unprecedented state/federal partnership to protect
the virgin Headwaters Forest in California ("Ways & Means,"
Our current work to acquire Headwaters was not prompted by the threat
of a takings lawsuit. Rather we are engaged in this effort because Californians
(including the Sierra Club) have long urged its protection. Governor Pete
Wilson first declared his desire to protect Headwaters in 1991 and has
worked toward that end ever since.
Contrary to Pope's assertion, we seek no less than the permanent protection
of the largest contiguous stand of privately owned old-growth redwoods
in the world. The significance of this proposal is reflected in the total
value of the state and federal properties we have offered for trade--$380
million. The state share--$130 million--is only slightly smaller than the
Land and Water Conservation Fund allocation nationwide. When will the Sierra
Club get off the sidelines and join this historic campaign to protect the
Headwaters Forest forever? Douglas P. Wheeler
California Secretary for Resources
Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope replies: The point of my column
was to express the Club's objections to takings legislation, not to point
out the inadequacies of the state/federal plan for Headwaters' purchase.
Concern over a possible takings lawsuit has been explicitly cited by federal
negotiators as weakening their hand in dealing with Charles Hurwitz, the
Texas financier who wants to log the Headwaters Forest.
Far from sitting on the sidelines, the Sierra Club, along with other
environmental groups, has repeatedly sued Governor Wilson's administration
and the state of California to prevent logging in this ecosystem. It is
the Wilson administration that refused to fill vacancies on the State Board
of Forestry when filling those vacancies would have allowed the board to
prevent unregulated salvage logging in four of the six virgin groves in
the Headwaters Forest. It is the Wilson administration that has consistently
argued for allowing Hurwitz to log redwood groves at an unsustainable rate,
thereby increasing the incentive to log rather than find a way to transfer
his holdings into public ownership.
It is the Wilson administration that defines the Headwaters Forest as
a limited, 7,000-acre area, rather than looking, as biologists and the
Sierra Club have urged, at the entire 60,000-acre ecosystem that needs
protection. The proposed state/federal purchase leaves open the issue of
whether the remaining virgin groves will be logged and how the corridors
and buffer zones that surround these areas will be protected.
If Governor Wilson would stop providing downfield blocking for Charles
Hurwitz, the entire Headwaters Forest could still be saved.
OUT OF REACH
I agree with the concept of the article "To Every Fruit There Is
a Season" (January/February). Let's be realistic, however. Right now
the price of organically grown food is out of the reach of the average
middle-class family. As long as agribusiness is owned or controlled by
the chemical companies that produce the pesticides and fertilizer, nothing
will change. Robert E. Fullerton
In "Edge of Eden" (January/February), we incorrectly identified
the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is, in fact, St. Croix.
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