Monday, December 22, 2014

Assessing the Long-Term Costs of Ignoring the Environment

As NJ Spotlight's staff takes a holiday break until January, former Gov. Christie Whitman, who served from 1994 to 2001, provides the first in our collection of year-end essays from those who have sat in the governor's chair. The invitation asked only that they write about any issue they think is important as New Jersey enters 2014.

Assessing the Long-Term Costs of Ignoring the Environment

As NJ Spotlight's staff takes a holiday break until January, former Gov. Christie Whitman, who served from 1994 to 2001, provides the first in our collection of year-end essays from those who have sat in the governor's chair. The invitation asked only that they write about any issue they think is important as New Jersey enters 2014.

As former U.S. EPA administrator and now a consultant on environmental issues, Whitman takes on a topic she knows well: the environment and our public health.

Recent studies linking various health and economic impacts of environmental contamination should cause policymakers to reevaluate their priorities when it comes to environmental legislation and regulation. Three key areas of research in this area stand out: the connection between certain pesticides and Parkinson’s, the correlation between elevated lead in gasoline with crime rates, and the link between air pollution and autism.

A study released last year by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center showed the connection between Parkinson’s disease and the use of two pesticides, rotenone and paraquat. People who had used either pesticide developed Parkinson’s disease approximately 2.5 times more often than those who did not use the chemicals. Mercifully, there are no residential uses for either paraquat or rotenone currently registered, but that restriction for rotenone was only put in place, voluntarily by its producers, in 2006. Paraquat use is restricted to certified applicators, and rotenone is now only permitted in the killing of invasive fish species.

A study released early this year revealed that the change in leaded gasoline usage has a high correlation with violent crime rates in America. Tulane University toxicologist Howard W. Mielke found that the exposure of children to high levels of lead in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in a significant uptick in crime 20 years later. Every 1 percent increase in the number of tons of lead released into the atmosphere corresponded with a half a percent point increase in the aggravated assault rate 22 years later. Mielke found that once leaded gasoline was no longer available in the 1980s, the corresponding crime rates fell; further research confirmed this correlation in other countries and in six U.S. cities.

Click here for the full post

About this blog
NJ Spotlight is an issue-driven news website that provides critical insight to New Jersey’s communities and businesses. We are non-partisan, independent, policy-centered and community-minded, and we're partnering with Philly.com.

Contact us: info@njspotlight.com

Press releases: news@njspotlight.com

Sales: kharold@njspotlight.com

More information: www.njspotlight.com


NJ Spotlight
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected