Letters (April 22, 2009)

Studies mixed about low atrazine levels


In the last few weeks, the issue of water quality has come to the fore in Marion County. Congressman Jerry Moran was at the Marion Reservoir two weeks ago to hear experts report on the state of the lake in regards to blue green algae and zebra mussels.

For those of us who have followed this issue, we heard some of the same information and there were reports of progress being made in the watershed to control erosion and buffer some of the runoff.

At the same time, it was reported that there is still a problem of too much nitrogen and phosphorus coming into the lake and setting up the conditions for future algae bloom.

Atrazine presence and levels in the Marion and Hillsboro water supply via Marion Reservoir has made the papers in stories about a class-action lawsuit against the makers of atrazine and now an allegation of open-meetings violations by the two city commissions.

The Marion County Record had a story about the low level of toxicity of atrazine and the large amounts that an individual would have to consume to cause immediate death.

While I do not know the source or validity of the data, it could very well be true. The problems associated with low levels of atrazine in water consumed over a long period of time have been the object of current scientific research.

Paul Winchester, a neonatologist, working in Indianopolis, Ind., is seeing a connection with the occurance of birth defects ?spinal bifida, cleft pallet, down syndrome and urogenital abnormalities?in babies conceived in April to July in farming country that have spikes in atrazine levels in water supplies due to planting time chemical applications and heavier runoff of chemicals by rainfall.

Michael Skinner, Washington State University researcher, has shown that the capacity that pesticides have to alter our lives has been grossly underestimated.

Tyrone Hayes, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology, has a large body of research involving the health and genetic effects of low levels of atrazine on amphibians that is transferable to human experience.

Dr. Hayes was a consultant and conducting research for Norvartis, the maker of atrazine that is now Syngenta Crop Protection, when his findings revealed atrazine to be a potent endocrine disruptor.

The company attempted to prevent Dr. Hayes from presenting and publishing his findings and he had to resign his consulting position in 2000.

The science is still in process on the health effects of long-term, low-level consumption of atrazine in drinking water and in reality the users of the public water supplies in Marion County are some of the guinea pigs in this ongoing experiment.

Harry E. Bennett



Relay for Life is a community event


The American Cancer Society has been an active member of Marion County for many years, offering a number of patient and family services, cancer support groups, tobacco control programs, lifesaving educational tools and research. The Society continues its mission thanks to the help of generous volunteers and dedicated staff.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a community event in every sense of the word. It is a chance for the community to come together for one common cause. Being a part of Relay For Life means I?m a part of a national grassroots movement to fight cancer. Being a Relay For Life volunteer means I?m making life better for cancer survivors, patients and their families.

But we are faced with a critical shortage of volunteer leaders. With the challenges of our economy and day-to-day demands, time has become a premium and many people are finding it more difficult to partici?- pate in community service.

It is because of the volunteers who preceded us, however, that certain types of cancer are now highly treatable or even curable. With more help, we will continue to win the fight.

The American Cancer Society needs your help now. Plans are under way for the annual fundraiser Relay For Life, hosted at Warrior Stadium in Marion June 19-20. Now is the time for individuals, families, organizations, schools, religious groups, corporations and small businesses to build a team and join our fight to reduce the burden of cancer across America.

Relay For Life can be the site of a company picnic or family gathering while supporting a great cause.

We need volunteers to help set-up on the 19th. We need volunteers to set up the luminaries. We need 2-by-4 blocks of wood scraps to place in the bottom of the luminaries? sacks. We need survivors to contact us so we can include you in the inspirational survivor lap. We need you.

To sign up to participate or learn how you can volunteer in other ways, call 620-382-3117, ext. 354, or 620-382-3690.

Janet Herzet, chair

Relay For Life of Marion County

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