There is a growing concern over the health, cleanliness, and purity of the food and drink we consume in America. Our infrastructure is crumbling, and along with that urban decay comes industrial pollution, which contributes to unsafe groundwater, poisoned rivers and lakes, toxic soil, and water systems that leach heavy metals such as lead into our drinking water. We’ve all seen how susceptible our cities can be to major catastrophe, as in the case of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Unfortunately, what happened in Flint isn’t all that extraordinary. No one knows this better than the residents of Hinkley, California, where a well-known water contamination incident occurred back in the 1990s, and was featured in the Julia Roberts film, Erin Brockovich in 2000.
If you were ever able to see the film, you were probably left with the impression that all things were set aright and the people of that little California town were given a fair settlement. However, in an article published in the Los Angeles Times in April of 2015, “Fifteen years after the film showed triumphant residents winning a $333-million settlement with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for contaminating its water — and nearly 20 years after the settlement itself — Hinkley is emptying out, and those who stay still struggle to find resolution.” And all over our country, this same scenario has played out, with different players, different problems, and different non-solutions that never actually help those who were hurt worst in the end.
This doesn’t bode well for Flint. And it’s certainly not looking good for the rest of America either. After her battle in Hinkley, the real Erin Brockovich has continued to be a voice for the voiceless all around the world by advocating for those affected by environmental toxins. After years of receiving reports about problems with toxic soil and polluted water from people all around the United States, she decided to put together a community map for others to plot their experiences to make them public knowledge. In the explanation page of her website, Brockovich says she did this because:
“I believe that it is the voice of the people who live in these towns dotted across the country, who on a daily basis are experiencing the harmful effects of water, air and soil pollution. It is critical that we listen to their plight and identify what might be causing them harm and learn from what they are experiencing. After all, who better than they to know what is happening to them than they themselves? We don’t live in their shoes nor experience what effects a contamination might be doing to them, their families or their health.”
Not only has this sort of citizen reporting become helpful for finding and exposing environmental problems, but it is also essential for creating solutions, holding governments and public institutions accountable, and working toward remediations and resolutions. This community-centered approach can encourage people to work together and fix problems, despite the often insufficient or even lackadaisical response of bureaucratic entities. But once the major issues are solved, what about the lasting health effects? For example, what will the people of Flint do to help mitigate the long term ramifications of lead poisoning?
As it has been demonstrated time and time again, we can’t really expect any meaningful or expedient response from our governmental leaders in times of crises. Our personal and public health is our own hands, and even though our options are restricted by unjust laws that seek to keep us from propagating and utilizing our most important medicine (i.e. cannabis prohibition), we can detoxify ourselves and try to stay away from heavy metals.
Contaminants such as lead, mercury, and aluminum are bio-accumulative, which means they build up and persist within the body and can continue to toxify the blood for years. Many of us know that our fish and seafood are tainted with mercury, which has also been used to preserve some vaccines. Although mercury is no longer used in the preparation of most vaccines, aluminum is now used in many as an adjuvant. Even though there is little scientific data on the safety of this practice, most pediatricians still recommend injecting this neurotoxin into our children, along with various other compounds, in order to supposedly stimulate immune response against many diseases.
In a statement published by the Neural Dynamics Research Group on aluminum toxicity, it is made clear that this toxin is leading to health issues in all of us:
“The literature demonstrates clearly negative impacts of aluminum on the nervous system across the age span. In adults, aluminum exposure can lead to apparently age-related neurological deficits resembling Alzheimer’s and has been linked to this disease and to the Guamanian variant, ALS-PDC…In young children, a highly significant correlation exists between the number of pediatric aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines administered and the rate of autism spectrum disorders.”
Clearly, the burden of responsibility to protect our health and wellness falls primarily upon us alone. Even in the face of environmental degradation caused by industrial pollution, we cannot rely on the governmental bodies and public institutions that have been created specifically for this purpose. Not only have our food supply and our waters been allowed to be poisoned, but even our so-called health industry encourages us to allow our bodies to be toxified in the name of prevention. We need to make these entities serve us once again or get rid of them completely.