Living Downstream: An Ecologists Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment

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Reflection: This chapter was a bit misleading. The title said fire, so most would assume that the chapter was about fire, but not this one. The fire was meant to be about people getting themselves together to fix the problems that were caused many years ago. Again the author went off on a rant about the same things and repeated herself many times, which is starting to get annoying.

She can easily have a good book without having to repeat and dedicate each chapter to something different and go on about nothing for over 30 pages. This chapter did not give decent information, or even good information, it was annoying and hard to get through. Vocabulary: Dieldrain — organochloride originally produced in by J. Dieldrin is closely related to aldrin, which reacts further to form dieldrin.

Chlordane — chlordan, is an organochlorine compound used as a pesticide. This white solid was sold in the U. Heptachlor -organochlorine compound that was used as an insecticide. Usually sold as a white or tan powder, heptachlor is one of the cyclodiene insecticides. Summary: This chapter starts off with the author talking about her childhood again. How life in Illinois was for her as a child and how everything has changed over time. At the beginning of the 20th century over 2, commercial fishers worked in Illinois and supplied harvests to markets all across the U.


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Illinois was the most productive inland market across the U. Then the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal changed everything for the worse. It was opened in January 17, , and it caused a lot of industrial waste to flow into the rivers and backwaters.

Living Downstream

The backwaters rose and flooded and stayed flooded. The pin oak and pecan trees died, while the industrial pollution moved south and downstream residences protested. In , the U. This created locks and dams.

Living Downstream: An Ecologist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment

After WWII the river was completed and it has looked the same since. The clean water act of brought improvement to Illinois River, the industrial waste declined, and the water quality improved. However, the ecological effects were still there. Even the Upper part of Illinois cautioned sport anglers to reduce or even stop their consumption of the fish in the rivers, since they were found to contain high levels of cancer causing chemicals. It was later cautioned to all women, children, and pregnant women to not eat any of the fish from the rivers.

The bigger the fish, the more chemicals were found. Barge convoys were introduced in later years, but they started to become a problem because they would churn the waters and were constantly suspending toxic materials. It was then that water started to become as regulated as food, with the tolerable levels of chemicals that could not be passed to be considered safe. The author then goes into talking about the different levels that water must reach in parts per billion. There were many different examples she gave. After a few chapters explaining the different levels, she goes into radon gas and other harmful gases and how they can get into water, even though they are air borne chemicals.

They still get into the water and effect human life, and can cause cancers.

These chemicals were critical for the health of children and pregnant mothers. Once cancers started to appear because of the water, laws were being passed to try and help clean up the waters, since water is a part of every day life that cannot be avoided. Starting in Chicago started to pour chlorine into waste water before sending it downstream.

They were trying to get rid of the chemicals that were left over from WWI.

ISBN 13: 9780306818691

They found that chlorine was a cheap chemical, and thought that it was working. Multiple studies were done to show that this was not helping anyone, but ultimately harming them. It was giving people cancer from the chemicals, and the author goes on for pages about how this is bad and why it was a bad idea.

In recent years, starting in the s, most of the ground water was contaminated, so clean up became more and more important. All across the U.

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Reflection: This chapter gave a lot of good and useful information, but a lot of the information was repeated many times. It is not needed. Towards the end of the chapter is when focus was easier. The information was fresh and interesting and not overly repeated. Overall the chapter was good, and it gives everyone who reads it a wake up call for the water they think is clean.

Many people do use water bottles, where the water is purified and fully clean, but most people use the tap water for cooking, or even for their pets. And seeing all of the different chemicals that are in the water we even give to our pets is scary and it is a good thing that most of the country is starting to notice this as well and doing something about it. Incinerator: Burning device for trash. Dioxin: carcinogenic organochlorine compounds that can be produced by incinerators, through manufacturing pesticides, or during bleaching of paper products.

TCDD: The most poisonous dioxin that is extremely stable and cannot be broken apart by enzymes in the body.


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  5. Half-life in the body is seven years. Biomagnification: The accumulation of toxic chemicals in higher concentrations of species higher on the food chain.

    An Ecologist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment

    In the chapter titled Fire, the history of the growth of incinerators used to burn trash in Illinois is summarized. The trouble with incinerators is they produce the carcinogenic organochlorine: dioxin. Dioxins form when chlorine donors such as paint thinners, household cleaners, plastic toys, appliances, or shoes are burned and aide in spontaneous generation. Incinerators also produce new species of toxic chemicals and disposal of the hazardous ashes is a problem that remains.

    The toxic dioxins released into also find their way back to the earth and contaminate the foods we eat and accumulate in high concentrations of farm animals. Knowing of all the damage that incinerators cause to the air and all the toxins they emit; I begin to feel guilty knowing that much of the U.

    It is actually really shitty of us to send our problems to others and cause health issues for them when we are the ones being wasteful. All in all, through reading this book, I have come to reflect on so many things that I do that our wasteful.

    Every time I throw something away, buy something made of plastic, or eat pesticide laden food I will be reminded that all my choices have an impact on the environment, and while maybe seeming small, every positive change will have significant impact on the lives of many as the whole world is interconnected.

    On another note, WFT America? Really, what are we doing? By no means should we be building more incinerators in our agricultural producing states or dumping million tons of toxic waste below the fields that are feeding our families. The pesticides and herbicides are failing creating out of control super weeds and pest all the while poisoning our waterways and bodies. We need to fix the problems at the root of the cause rather than look for a temporary band aide. Mentioned in chapter 9 are the many changes to the Illinois River over the years.