S 1997. Living
Downstream. An ecologist looks at cancer and the environment.
Merloyd Lawrence; Addison Wesley.
powerfully written book examines the intimate relationship between
contamination and cancer, as seen through the eyes of a Ph.D. trained
biologist, herself the victim of cancer. With remarkable effectiveness,
Steingraber uses her strong literary skills and deep scientific
understanding of biology, health, contamination and cancer to make
tough issues--both scientific and personal--accessible and understandable.
the daughter of a World War II veteran, I am grateful that my father
did not die in a typhyus epidemic in Naples. But as a survivor of
cancer, as a native of Tazewell County, and as a member of the most
poisoned generation to come of adult age, I am sorry that cooler
heads did not prevail in the calm prosperity of peacetime, when
careful consideration and a longer view on public health were once
again permissible and necessary. I am sorry that no one asked, "Is
this the industrial path we want to continue along? Is the the most
reasonable way to rid our dogs of fleas and our trees of gypsy moths?
Is this the safest material for a baby's pacifier or a tub of margarine?"
Or that those who did as such questions were not heard."
above my desk are graphs showing the U.S. annual production of synthetic
chemicals. I keep them here to make visible a phenomenon I was born
in the midst of but am too young to recall firsthand. The first
consists of several lines, each representing the manufacture of
a single substance. One line is benzene, the human carcinogen known
to cause leukemia and suspected of playing a role in multiple myleoma
and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Another is perchloroethylene, the probable
human carcinogen used to dry-clean clothes. A third represents production
of vinyl chloride, a known cause of angiosarcoma and a possible
breast carcinogen. They all look like ski slopes. After 1940, the
lines begin to rise significantly and then shoot upward after 1960."
cancer time trends is like ascending a glacial moraine in central
Illinois. The rise is gradual, steady, and real. What seems imperceptible
from the ground--percentage changes that unfold over miles or over
decades--is plainly revealed by graphs of the data. In regard to
cancer incidence in the United States, we are, in fact, walking
on a sloping landscape."