Hazardous Substances

The shock waves rocked several city blocks and could be heard from miles around, but fortunately there were no injuries—to people, that is. The negative emotions containment facility had been evacuated expediently at the first sign of trouble, all safety precautions enacted without delay. And while those precautions ultimately could not prevent the blast and its ensuing conflagration, they did contain it and ensure the wellbeing of the community. I was asleep at the time, but my roommate woke me up after hearing the frightening boom resound throughout the city. Together, we watched the news coverage on the television, which he had immediately turned on to find out the source of this thunderous sound. On the glowing screen before us, we saw the raging flames of the monstrous firestorm engulfing what was left of the facility and the surrounding wooded hills, the blaze reaching up high into the starry sky. Behind the reporters, containment teams were working furiously to bring it under control with hoses blasting chemically treated water. By morning, it was over, leaving the charred skeleton of the facility, burnt up forests full of ash and clouds of dark smoke hanging over them, blown slowly east by the wind to the plains upon which they would later rain their caustic waters.

The storage facility was situated on the outskirts of the city, placed in such a remote location in case anything like this ever happened. It was designed as a holding station for hazardous human substances before they could be properly disposed of at the treatment facility, which despite operating at maximum capacity, was always overrun dealing with these environmentally and socially destructive materials. It was meant as a temporary measure to safely house these things until another treatment facility could be constructed. Continue reading

Pollution isn’t just something we put into the world

Breasts_front_cover_web Breast-feeding is an ecological act, connecting our bodies to the world in a complex web of give-and-take. The permeability of breasts allowed us to make great advances. Their estrogen sensitivity allows us

to reach puberty at optimal times. When our ancestors migrated and settled in river and costal areas, omega-3–rich diets turned their breast milk into gold, and our brains grew. We recruited, harvested, and bred specialized bacteria for our milk; we collected molecules from the world and from our bodies to manufacture novel sugar and fats to protect our babies. Our special low-protein milk kept us growing slowly, so we could have the longest childhoods on earth and learn everything we could.

Our brains grew so well that eventually we learned how to change the world’s ecology. We couldn’t possibly have guessed that we were changing our breast milk as well. Our nouveau crème no longer serves us as well as it once did. Ironically and tragically, breast milk once propelled our evolution, now it may be impeding it by conveying toxins and quite possibly contributing to infertility and brain and body impairments. For many decades, the formula companies have tried to mimic breast milk, but it is breast milk that now may be approximating formula. That is decidedly depressing.—Florence Williams, Breasts.