Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 64

CHILDREN, PESTICIDES, AND FOOD - Kolmes pesticide in fish is in the subcutaneous fat, the fat right under the skin. Pesticides are mostly fat-soluble. If you take a fish and you fillet it before you cook it, you will have removed most of the pesticides, or at least a healthy portion of any pesticide dose. If you are like me, you like Asian fish cooked with the head and skin on, and if there’s pesticide in that fish you’re going to get it, because when you cook the fish you are melting the subcutaneous fat which is going to spread the pesticide like gravy over all the meat before you eat it. If it is fish from contaminated water, then you need to be very careful and you are much, much safer if you eat only fillets and never whole-cooked fish. In general, fish fillets are safer than fish with the skin on. If you’re eating fish from Alaska, it’s not the same kind of issue as with the fish from around here. An NRDC report available online13 shows another example of how random health impacts of toxic exposures can be. These are atrazine levels. It is a corn herbicide, and is the most commonly used herbicide. Here in the United States, we love our atrazine. Atrazine has hormonal effects. It disrupts male organ development in various animals. Atrazine is applied several times in a growing season. It is sprayed for a short period of time and so there are brief periods after spraying that there is a lot of atrazine in the surface waters near farms. In the report Figure 2 is the water in Nashville, Illinois. You can see the atrazine spraying spikes over the growing season. The red line on the graph is the atrazine level in the surface water. The blue line on the graph is the atrazine level in drinking water. As you can see, Nashville, Illinois has a good water treatment plant. If you’re in Nashville, Illinois, and you’re drinking city tap water, you’re okay in terms of avoiding atrazine exposure because they have an effective filtration system. Figure 3 is the water in Blanchester, Ohio. Blanchester, Ohio has a filtration system that managed to concentrate the atrazine in the drinking water even more than the spikes in the surrounding surface water, so the blue on this graph is higher than the red one. That means you’d be safer in that town when atrazine has been sprayed in the area to go out and stick your face in the pond and drink, because your tap water has more atrazine than the surface water. How do you know which of those towns you live in in terms of water quality? You don’t. An unpredictable element of exposure exists. And don’t think your bottled water is much different. Dasani comes right out of the rather polluted Willamette River. It’s pulled out at Wilsonville, Oregon, treated and bottled. You have to educate yourself about this. Bottled water, by the way, is generally less safe than tap water because it’s a largely 13. Natural Resources Defense Council, Still Poisoning the Well (April 2010), accessed February 2, 2016, http://www.nrdc.org/health/atrazine/files/atrazine10.pdf. 61