Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

One way to protect your health is to become an activist.  Although I prepared a long, detailed blog post to explain this conclusion, I realized that you just need the short story.

Last night I spent 3 hours at a public hearing on uranium mining.  There is a uranium deposit about 20 miles from my house.  After researching the legacy of uranium mining in the west, I realized the importance of maintaining the current uranium mining ban in Virginia.  This mine has the potential to contaminate our water, our land, and our air.  Not only are local people at risk, but people downstream, all the way to the coast, could be affected.  While all the government officials, those who are supposed to protect us, assured us that they had safeguards in place and that they would be on top of things, accidents and natural disasters happen.  The levees in New Orleans and the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico are good examples of man-made structures that were regulated by the government.  Yes, the government was on top of things, doing its job, following regulations - but it didn't prevent the devastating damage.

For governmental agencies, it seems that being on top of things entails taking action once contamination has occurred.  This was a common theme last night.  I heard discussion about condemning contaminated wells, preventing the sale of contaminated meat and produce from local sources, monitoring cancer clusters, etc.  This was not very reassuring to me as that means the damage would have already been done.  

My situation highlights the importance of knowing what industries are in or are coming to your area and any possible health consequences.  According to the World Health Organization, about one-fourth of diseases in the world are caused by environmental factors.  Further, for children under the age of 5, environmental factors are blamed for one-third of diseases.  While some of these environmental factors are personal, such as diet, substance use, and lack of physical activity, others are caused by outside influences.  Becoming an informed activist is beneficial to your health and well being.

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