The Silent Pandemic Poisoning Our Children

Maya van Rossum
Oct 27, 2017 · 3 min read

A study published online October 25, 2017, provides a detailed and scary new analysis of the devastating impacts pollution emanating from unconventional oil and gas development, including fracking for gas from shale, is having on the health and development of our nation’s children. This research also makes an even stronger case for why we need green amendments.

The study titled Neurodevelopmental and neurological effects of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and natural gas operations and their potential effects on infants and children takes a look at research focused on 5 pollutant categories associated with unconventional oil & gas development: heavy metals (arsenic & manganese), particular matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene) and endocrine disrupting chemicals.

In a detailed articulation of a wealth of scientific research, this paper exposes the scientific reality that these oil and gas operations are releasing dangerous toxins into our air and water. The toxins being released are scientifically known to cause and/or contribute serious health conditions in children including (but not limited to): increased autism, tumors, low birth weight, lower IQs, ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, eating disorders, cancers, infertility, birth defects, deficits in intelligence and memory, delayed development of speech and motor functions, facial deformations, smaller head circumference, hyperactivity, language impairment, developmental delays, problems in brain development and much much more.

As the study points out, children are particularly more susceptible to these dangerous toxins because “they eat, drink and breath more toxicants per pound of body weight than adults.” But it is not just after they are born that children are dangerously exposed, in utero children are now known to be vulnerable to the toxins to which their mother is exposed. “Mounting research has detected more than 200 [] chemicals in umbilical cord blood, showing that babies are being born ‘pre polluted’ with a host of chemicals, some of which are neurotoxic.”

What is so disturbing, is that the toxins being discharged to our air and water from unconventional oil and gas operations that are causing these devastating impacts are being discharged legally. Their discharge is either explicitly permitted under existing laws, or the industry has been given a pass on their regulation. For example, as the study notes, and I note in my upcoming book The Green Amendment, unconventional oil and gas operations are explicitly exempted from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, despite the reality that these operations are in fact infecting our drinking water supplies.

This is one of the reasons I am working so hard to initiate a Green Amendment Movement to get passage of meaningful constitutional environmental rights amendments in every state in the nation and at the federal level. We have strong provisions now in Pennsylvania and Montana that are beginning to have an impact (in Pennsylvania the legal strength of the provision is very new, hence why fracking operations in the state have been allowed to continue despite the provision — but we are working fast to change that now that we have an effective provision with supreme court recognized strength). But we need them everywhere.

Why? Because the constitution is the highest law in the land. Which means that a legislator or regulator who claims they have complied with every applicable law can still be found to violate a constitutional right to a healthy environment and thereby have their actions overturned — that is if the provision is properly written and placed.

The experience of communities, backed by strong scientific research like that discussed in Neurodevelopmental and neurological effects of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and natural gas operations and their potential effects on infants and children are making the case that we need a Green Amendment movement, urgently, to sweep our great nation — before it is too late for our nation’s children to be protected.

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