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Study: Children Feeling Effects of Industrial Pollution

December 21, 2006

Industrial chemicals are impairing brain development in children here in Oregon, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. Because developing brains are more susceptible to the effects of chemicals like lead and mercury, nearly one of every six children worldwide has a developmental disability. Emily Bartha with the Sierra Club of Oregon says the state isn't immune. A legal loophole in clean water standards lets industry release high amounts of dangerous toxins which create "toxic mixing zones" in the Willamette River.

"They permit industries to discharge high amounts of dangerous toxins including lead and mercury into the river in a specified area."

Bartha adds another concern is that currently the "toxic mixing zones" aren't publicly marked, putting the health of those who swim, fish and boat in the river, especially kids, unknowingly at risk.

"Industry shouldn't have the right to harm the health of kids and the community just to decrease their costs of waste disposal."

Industry representatives say they're not breaking any laws and the water dilutes the chemicals to safe levels.

The report is online at www.hsph.harvard.edu/press/releases/press11072006.html.

Dondrea Warner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OR