All I can hear is: You did something wrong to cause this.
March 28, 2019 6:59 PM   Subscribe

You may be asking yourself, as I have over the years (Archive.org mirror): What are the odds that I’d have three children with what doctors say are unrelated brain malformations? I’ve never been good at math but I’m pretty sure the odds are astronomical. I also believe the odds that they are related are far greater than the odds that they are not. My own hypothesis is that my exposure to chlorpyrifos caused the anomalies in all three of my children. (SL Medium, CW for abortion, ableist language)

I’m driving down Highway 1 in Southern California listening to NPR’s All Things Considered when I hear a story that makes me bolt upright. Scott Pruitt, Trump’s former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is lifting a ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Numerous studies — including one longitudinal study on the neurodevelopmental effects of indoor pesticide exposure — have linked the chemical to neural tube defects and brain malformations.

...Other than to satisfy my own curiosity, why does digging up the chemical industry’s sins — and the secrets of my family history — matter?

It matters because the government is no longer working for the people or public health when a $1 million donation by Dow Chemical to the Trump Inauguration happens to coincide with former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rejecting the advice of his agency’s chemical safety experts and reversing the Obama era’s prohibition against agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos.

It matters because Dow continues to sell chlorpyrifos without proper warning labels in developing nations.

...More broadly, it matters because the Trump administration is engaged in an all-out assault on the agencies charged with using independent, evidence-backed science to protect our nation’s public health. Chlorpyrifos is but one example. Lead, arsenic, ozone, beryllium, mercury, and silica are others.
posted by devrim (15 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was a gut punch.
posted by sixswitch at 8:03 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


The medical profession should establish a new tradition. When an environmental incident happens, the associated disease or syndrome should be named after an official in the executive branch of the nation involved, someone whose office renders him deserving of the dubious honor.

Call chlorpyrifos "Trump syndrome." Or Wheeler syndrome (current EPA head). Or Zinke Disease (Secretary of the Interior).
posted by ocschwar at 8:21 PM on March 28 [35 favorites]


It makes me wonder if zika virus hurt the Brazilian kids just before the Olympics, or was it bug spray? Maybe zika is more ubiquitous than they think. Now there is a lot of writing about how warming climate will allow for the migration of tropical diseases, true, but allowing killer, mutagenic chemicals where they were previously banned, might get some cover for the effects of contamination. Nice touch, no labeling in "developing" areas. Trouble is just what are they developing?
posted by Oyéah at 8:53 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


ableist language -- ?
posted by davidmsc at 9:05 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Okay, now I’m terrified to ever get pregnant.
posted by corb at 9:16 PM on March 28


ableist language -- ?

Well, for example:
Steve and I discussed whether to have more children. Steve’s dad offered unexpected, unsolicited, and harshly worded advice: “You’ve aborted the retarded baby and had a defective baby, maybe you should just stop at one?”
Retardation may have been acceptable medical terminology for a brief time (though I’d say it was being used as a slur here), but calling his own Grandson “defective” is uncommonly cruel.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 10:04 PM on March 28 [22 favorites]


I too was wondering what prompted the content warning. Thanks for clearing that up, Secret Sparrow.

I sort of wish I hadn't read this article. Though it was a heart-rending story and very well written, it's more that it's insomnia o'clock and I very badly don't want to live in a world where a handful of people get to be billionaires by causing damage like this in their wake, leaving absolutely no justice at the end of so many stories like this one.
posted by Lizard at 10:35 PM on March 28 [13 favorites]


I saw this post and then a commercial for weed killer where a man describes how he's so glad a "sick, twisted, evil weed" is dead and how it never deserved to live because the man didn't desire it. Cut to this cute little dead dandelion who never asked for any of this shit. It's almost like that's exactly the way these companies feel about all life on earth. It was a surreal experience.
posted by bleep at 11:36 PM on March 28 [15 favorites]


Secret Sparrow, I am legit unsure where you are looking, are you warning people that these words exist in the article? Or are you criticizing that they are in the article? Ugly words used cruely but they were a quote from someone and they are such a lesser ugly than the general poisoning of people and their babies for profit.
posted by InkaLomax at 5:45 AM on March 29


A content warning is so people can avoid or be prepared for the content. So if someone doesn't want to read something with ableist language, now they know to avoid this article. Or read it later. Whatever works for them.
posted by Mavri at 6:03 AM on March 29 [19 favorites]


This article appears to be behind a paywall or login - is there another way to read it?
posted by congen at 6:09 AM on March 29


congen, you may need to clear your cookies or view Medium from a private browsing window to access the article. Here's a webarchive link, too!
posted by devrim at 6:44 AM on March 29


Thanks devrim!
posted by congen at 7:30 AM on March 29


Secret Sparrow, I am legit unsure where you are looking, are you warning people that these words exist in the article? Or are you criticizing that they are in the article? Ugly words used cruely but they were a quote from someone and they are such a lesser ugly than the general poisoning of people and their babies for profit.

davidmsc inquired about the Content Warning for ableist language, so I pointed out an example of language in the article that might have inspired devrim to apply that warning. Just trying to be helpful - although in retrospect dragging the direct quote into the comments somewhat defeats the CW. Sorry! I wasn't criticizing the author for quoting her Father-in-Law.

As Mavri said above, at the simplest level Content Warnings allow people to make informed decisions about when or whether they are prepared to engage with certain subject matter. There are plenty of life experiences that would lead someone to want/need to brace themselves for or (temporarily or completely) avoid an article that includes a personal account of an abortion and quotes dehumanizing language about people with disabilities.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 9:06 AM on March 29 [7 favorites]


This makes me want to scream. But instead I'm just going to double down in my public health studies and hope the world hasn't ended by the time I graduate and try to create some change
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:49 AM on March 29 [9 favorites]


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