Community Voices: Our air, water and food

Nicholas Dwork, Arvada
Posted 7/26/23

As much as many of us worry about the possibility of future extreme global warming, we are currently permitting our food, water and air to be damaged without consequence.

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Community Voices: Our air, water and food


As much as many of us worry about the possibility of future extreme global warming, we are currently permitting our food, water and air to be damaged without consequence. We are permitting ourselves and our children to be poisoned with hardly any notice at all.

Consider our air. You may have thought that leaded gasoline, which poisons our air and leads to brain damage in children, was made illegal long ago. But you’d be wrong. It was made illegal for land vehicles but remains legal for airplanes. For example, Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jefferson county sells leaded gasoline; it is the 63rd worst lead-emitting airport in the country! After a 2021 study found a significant correlation between the amount of lead in children in surrounding neighborhoods and distance to a lead-emitting airport , over 35 healthcare professionals wrote a letter to Jefferson County commissioners asking them to address this issue. In response, Paul Anslow — director of RMMA — complained that only selling unleaded gasoline would reduce airport operations by 40%. The county, enjoying the tax revenue that the airport generates, continues to permit the sale.

I wrote my state representative, Briana Titone, about this issue. I asked Titone to take this up at the state level. Instead of receiving a form letter, like I expected, I actually received an intentional response: Titone would intentionally do nothing about it. Titone let me know that, perhaps, the EPA would address this issue someday. Until then, our children would continue to be poisoned without Titone’s involvement.

We are allowing more than our air to be poisoned for profit; let’s consider our water. Suncor refinery regularly emits forever chemicals into the Colorado River. These chemicals are not broken down by our bodies or by nature, and so they are thought to last indefinitely. Our pollution with these chemicals is so severe that increasing amounts are now being found in Antarctica. Even very small amounts of forever chemicals in our bodies cause cancer and reproductive problems. And even though there is no known amount that is completely safe, Suncor is permitted to use forever chemicals to control a fire that predictably results from its refining process. The waste is emitted the South Creek and Sand Platte rivers, which are sourced for drinking water and crop irrigation. Even so, Suncor repeatedly pollutes the river far beyond the amount they are permitted. Importantly, this is a predictable fire! They need not use forever chemicals, but it would be more expensive to refine without them. And so they pollute and reap additional profits; the government that we rely on to protect us from this pollution reaps additional tax revenues.

So we poison our air and water; what about our food? It is normal to see “natural flavors” on food items. Consider, though, that many natural items would be terrible to consume. And indeed, many of the so-called natural flavors are terrible for us. Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) is used to make food products appear brighter [8]. This is an oxidized metal, the same metal is commonly used for joint replacements largely because it cannot be metabolized! It is commonly found in candy, coffee creamers, salad dressing and other foods. How flexible is the “natural flavors” designation? The FDA has approved cellulose — i.e., virgin wood pulp — as a food additive, which our bodies cannot digest. Vanilla and raspberry ice cream can be flavored with castoreum, a combination of anal and urine beaver secretions. It’s FDA-approved.

We are poisoning ourselves. We are trading our environment and our health for cheap goods and corporate profits. These actions are ubiquitous in our society, and they go on without hardly a peep from the public. This must change. We must immediately elect representatives who are willing to make corporate pollution and its consequences a main issue. (A good start would be voting Titone out of the state assembly and filling the position with someone who is willing to address the lead emitted by RMMA.) And if we cannot find politicians who will do so, then we must become engaged and elect ourselves to save our health and our environment: not the hypothetical future environment, but the present one.  

Nicholas Dwork is a resident of Arvada.

Arvada, environment, community voices


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