Saturday, January 31, 2015

Don't drink the chicken?

Well, it's good to hear the federal EPA is going to be bringing water to families in Dimock, PA, where drilling by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., contaminated the water wells of 19 homes three years ago, according to the Pennsylvania EPA.

Don't drink the chicken?

Truth in advertising? (Photo illustration)
Truth in advertising? (Photo illustration)

Well, it's good to hear the federal EPA is going to be carrying water - no, not figuratively, literally - to families in Dimock, PA, where drilling by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., contaminated the water wells of 19 homes three years ago, according to the Pennsylvania EPA.

The agency went back and forth on the question of how to deal with the contamination, and given the hemming and hawing, this still may not be the final answer. But one passage in today's story caught my eye:

EPA toxicologist Dawn A. Ioven, in a memo posted on the agency's website, said well-test results from eight homes showed that four "contained contaminants at levels of potential concern."

The well water of one house, whose occupants include two toddlers, contained arsenic at levels that would pose a long-term cancer risk.

Arsenic is, of course, a deadly poison whose people-kiling powers are celebrated in the play and movie Arsenic and Old Lace. It was also the subject of a lot of heat recently generated by Dr. Oz in terms of packaged apple juice. FDA tests found only trace amounts of inorganic (poisonous) arsenic, but Consumer Reports did tests that found enough for parents to be warned to limit their children's apple-juice consumption.

What's odd about this is that parents are not being warned to limit their children's CHICKEN consumption, despite the latter's higher arsenic risk. Whether arsenic exposure in eating chicken is 15 or 30 times that of drinking apple juice, as this One Green Planet article details (or even, if, say, it's just the same amount), "the majority of the arsenic found in chicken is the highly toxic inorganic form. The cooking of meat may then also produce further toxic arsenic by-products."

It goes on to point out that although the arsenic in apple juice is thought to come from pesticides in other countries, you might wonder how so much arsenic got into chicken - and then provides the answer: "The poultry industry fed it to them." Yes, in addition to overusing antibiotics and helping to create drug-resistant bacteria, the livestock industry feeds arsenic-based drugs to animals as a way of making sure they don't die before they're prime slaughtering age. Once they're slaughtered, the arsenic becomes your problem.

Yet even while admitting the existence of this carcinogen in chicken, the FDA tells us to go ahead and eat all the chicken we want. It makes one wonder how many residents of Dimock may be following that advice even as they avoid the water from contaminated wells.

Bottom line: We all have a resposibility to choose healthy foods and lifestyles and to educate ourselves to the point where we can make such informed choices. But personal choice doesn't exonerate the polluters who have our environment. And it's past time for the EPA, the FDA and the USDA to stop carrying these big-bucks industries' water at our expense.

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to

Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.

Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.

Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.

Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.

Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...

Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.

Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.

Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.

In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man

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