Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 60

CHILDREN, PESTICIDES, AND FOOD - Kolmes SK: It’s bound up in thimerosal, and so it’s quite a different situation. However, you are right to be thinking about dietary heavy metals impacts. No one can point to just one thing and say, “This is what causes autism,” because it’s not just one thing. It’s a lot of things that contribute together. Man 7: There is genetics, too. Some children are more susceptible than others. SK: That’s the way for virtually all human diseases. You probably all know some ninety-year-old person who smokes cigarettes and coughs constantly and laughs and says, “I’ve smoked two packs a day for seventy years and it never hurt me, therefore it is not dangerous.” For every human trait, whether it be height or weight or hair color, there’s a varying range of phenotypic variability. Some people are great at DNA repair. If you’re great at DNA repair, you probably can smoke cigarettes for sixty years. Some people are really bad at DNA repair. If you want to find out which you are, take up smoking. In a little while you’ll know which one you are. That same range of susceptibility applies to things like heavy metals and autism. The problem with these is that populations look like bell curves; you honestly don’t know where you sit on the curve. The safest thing to do is to assume you are pretty susceptible. Man 8: You have talked about pesticides washing out of the lawn and suggested washing your clothes after applying pesticides. So we’re talking about sending those down somewhere. I assume that one of your concerns about pesticides has nothing to do with human health but downstream fish and birds. SK: This is true. Pesticides are not removed by sewage treatment plants, and salmon are extraordinarily sensitive to pesticides. Pesticides disrupt salmon reproductive synchronization. They disrupt their homing ability. In fact, even minute doses of pesticides seem to mess up their sense of smell in general. Despite that, I’d rather someone who has children washed their clothes after using pesticides. However, I’d rather you didn’t use pesticides if you possibly can get away without using them. Fertilizers, pesticides—salmon are very sensitive organisms. If you have bugs in your house, there are things you can do other than toxic chemicals. You can buy food-grade diatomaceous earth. That works fine. It can’t be the diatomaceous earth you get in a craft store, but the food-grade material is like microscopic sand with sharp little points. If you put it on the floor, it abrades the insects underneath and it will kill them off. There are things you can do; there are alternatives. 57