Dust spells danger in America | HT Tech

Dust spells danger in America

The US has hogged so much column space in the last few days that it is hard putting it away, even when we're thinking green.

By: EARTH WATCH | BHARATI CHATURVEDI
| Updated on: Mar 30 2005, 18:00 IST

The US has hogged so much column space in the last few days that it is hard putting it away, even when we're thinking green. This is no surprise because the Americans have done more than anyone else to ruin the environment. Here is their latest. And, it's about the most humble of all matter: dust.

We know that dust can cause sneezing and allergies. Doctors have suggested that it was not dust but dust mites that cause the allergies. But now, it seems dust is even worse than its mites. I am talking of American dust, created on its own soil and poisoning its own population. That may sound sur prising, given the US track record of poisoning others.

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Lax US regulation has ensured that even dust be comes a hazardous substance. A landmark study, Sick of Dust, just released by an organisation, Clean Production Action, examines six families of toxic chemicals for their presence in dust. These are: phthalates, pesticides, alkylphenols, brominated flame retardants, organotins and perfluorinated compounds. Each of them causes irreversible damage (cancers, nervous disorders, disruption of the endocrine sys tem). These toxic chemicals come from materials as diverse as flame retardant fabric to flooring, cosmetics and electronics.

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The study shows that a representative from each toxic type was found in every single dust sample. This means that, for many in the US, just inhaling dust is chasing poison. The study also finds fault with the indifferent chemical control regime. They study says that there is minimal testing and even known harmful chemicals are not being controlled.

It's worrying to think of workers who directly deal with such chemicals. If the American regime clamped down on toxics, this would have a positive impact on the backward linkages too. Parallel to this is the seriousness with which some companies are trying to get rid of toxics. This includes IKEA, one company that supposedly sources from India. When it follows a policy of removing toxics then it allows for less poison on Indian soils. That's why corporate social responsibility should extend beyond borders.

(If you feel for Planet Earth, write to earthwatch1@rediffmail.com)

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First Published Date: 30 Mar, 18:00 IST
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