Daily archives: April 24th, 2009

If You Go to Crestwood, Don’t Drink the Water

Residents of Crestwood have reason to be concerned.  For over two decades, Crestwood supplied residents with tainted drinking water.  Mayor Robert Stranczek repeats his assertions that “the public’s health was never at risk,” and there was no evidence the village was ever informed by environmental regulators that the water was unsafe.

There is evidence to the contrary, however.

From the Southtown Star:

But doubt has been thrown on that statement, as it has been reported that the U.S. EPA has said there is no safe exposure to one of the chemicals found in the water, vinyl chloride.

Moreover, the state EPA ordered Crestwood to shut down the well that was the source of the tainted water in 2007, when the agency discovered to its surprise that the well was still in use.

And then there is the question of why Crestwood did not publicly disclose for decades that residents were drinking well water mixed in with safe, treated water from Lake Michigan.

Stranczek emphasized that on average each year only 10 percent of the water the village supplied was from the well and that the water was always mixed with lake water.

Vinyl chloride, CH2:CHCl, is toxic.

From the CDC:

Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas. It burns easily and it is not stable at high temperatures. It has a mild, sweet odor. It is a manufactured substance that does not occur naturally. It can be formed when other substances such as trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene are broken down. Vinyl chloride is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is used to make a variety of plastic products, including pipes, wire and cable coatings, and packaging materials.

And then there’s this, also from the CDC:

How can vinyl chloride affect my health?

Breathing high levels of vinyl chloride can cause you to feel dizzy or sleepy. Breathing very high levels can cause you to pass out, and breathing extremely high levels can cause death.

Some people who have breathed vinyl chloride for several years have changes in the structure of their livers. People are more likely to develop these changes if they breathe high levels of vinyl chloride. Some people who work with vinyl chloride have nerve damage and develop immune reactions. The lowest levels that produce liver changes, nerve damage, and immune reaction in people are not known. Some workers exposed to very high levels of vinyl chloride have problems with the blood flow in their hands. Their fingers turn white and hurt when they go into the cold.

The effects of drinking high levels of vinyl chloride are unknown. If you spill vinyl chloride on your skin, it will cause numbness, redness, and blisters.

Animal studies have shown that long-term exposure to vinyl chloride can damage the sperm and testes.

How likely is vinyl chloride to cause cancer?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined that vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen. Studies in workers who have breathed vinyl chloride over many years showed an increased risk of liver, brain, lung cancer, and some cancers of the blood have also been observed in workers.

How can vinyl chloride affect children?

It has not been proven that vinyl chloride causes birth defects in humans, but studies in animals suggest that vinyl chloride might affect growth and development. Animal studies also suggest that infants and young children might be more susceptible than adults to vinyl chloride-induced cancer.

It is unconscionable, unthinkable, and unbelievable that this has not been detected in more than two decades.

Calling Erin Brockovich…

What Does the ‘Baby Shaker’ iPhone App Say About Apple?

Sometimes, you just have to shake your head in bufuddlement.

Somehow, someone at Apple thought it would be acceptable to release a “Baby Shaker” game for the iPhone.  The game is simple and simple-minded: an image of an infant is presented on the screen, and when you shake the iPhone hard enough, two red “Xs” appear over the infants eyes.

Mission accomplished: the baby is dead.  You are scored on how quickly you can kill the infant.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Here’s a lesson in the obvious: Making fun of shaken baby syndrome — or any other type of traumatic brain injury — doesn’t make for uproarious comedy or light entertainment. It’s also not great for public relations.

Apple just learned that lesson the hard way. The company apologized Thursday for selling a 99-cent iPhone application called “Baby Shaker” in its online store. The application allowed iPhone users to silence a virtual crying infant by shaking the device. After enough shakes, the baby on the screen stopped screaming and a large red “X” appeared over each eye. Apple first posted the application Monday, the start of Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week.

“Anybody with any decency would be appalled by this,” said Jennipher Dickens, the mother of a child with the syndrome and a spokeswoman for the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation. “An application that simulates killing a baby, because it’s crying? What sick person would come up with that?”

I don’t care for the iPhone for a number of reasons (See: Why iDon’t Like the iPhone At All).  But an application to simulate the death of an infant?

Apple can have their iPhone.