Kimberley Inez McGuire blogs at RH Reality Check about the chemical pollutants that have been affecting the Gulf Region for years, and how the BP Oil Spill might just worsen the situation.
For decades, industrial waste and contamination in the Gulf states have been recognized for their role in causing health problems ranging from cancer to asthma. Residents have tested positive for exposure to some of the worst reproductive toxicants–chemicals that have been linked to infertility, miscarriage, low birth weight, low sperm count, and developmental and respiratory disorders for children exposed in utero. This contamination of the air, water, and soil is so severe, and its effects so widespread, that the 100-mile stretch of Louisiana communities between New Orleans and Baton Rouge is known by residents as “Cancer Alley.”
Louisiana’s Gulf coast and Mississippi River parishes are dotted with what are known in environmental justice parlance as “hot spots.” These communities are overburdened with more than their “fair” share of environmental contamination and resulting health problems. The sources of toxic chemicals in the environment can include chemical plants, power plants, toxic waste dumps, and landfills. In areas of concentrated and continuous toxic chemical exposure, the effects on reproductive health can be devastating, and persist across generations.