A study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and recently published by Science Daily has found that both young girls and women (after their first baby) who have been exposed of air pollution may have had their DNA mutated so that they will contract breast cancer before menopause.
This DNA mutation was greater in areas with higher levels of air pollution than in those with lower levels. These findings were presented at a recent meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The chief investigator, Katharine Dobson, stated, "The investigation looked for an association between exposure to pollution and alterations to DNA that influence the presence or absence of key proteins. Such genetic changes are thought to be major contributors to cancer development and progression, including at very early stages."
With this information at hand, plus the information we already have - that air pollution causes untold numbers of deaths due to respiratory failures - you would think our lawmakers would want to reduce air pollution as much as possible to save women from these unnecessary deaths and the associated pain and suffering.
But it seems that Republican lawmakers (and conservative Democrats) and public officials are more interested in the money they get from the lobbyists representing the big polluting corporations - oil, gas, coal, utilities, mining, etc. - than they are in the health of the American people. They are perfectly willing to expose children to the deadly effects of air pollution and try and prevent any regulations from going into effect that might limit the rights of big business to dirty our air. They are on a mission to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency - which one of their own helped set up (President Nixon.)
Newt Gingrich, now running for the Republican nomination for president, for example, supports the movement to abolish the EPA entirely and thus give free reign to the polluters. He claims, according to the Center for American Progress, that people who want to control the air have no respect for ordinary people and their jobs.
Meanwhile, surveys by the American Lung Association and public opinions polls show that around 75 percent of the American people support the EPA and want even more regulation than the agency now tries to enforce. It is at least a good sign for progressives that the extremist Republican right hasn't the faintest idea what the American people really want.
The American people want healthy air for themselves and their children - the big energy corporations want bigger profits for themselves. Whose interests should prevail in a democracy? We shall soon find out as Congress hold hearing on these subjects.
The EPA says that newly proposed rules for reducing, forget about eliminating, deadly pollutants from power plants, cement kilns and industrial boilers - pollutants such as toxic metals, mercury and acid gases - will save tens of thousands of lives every year. Tens of thousands!
So are those people are just collateral damage to the executives of the big polluting industries and their Republican lapdogs? Representatives of the polluters have testified to Congress that they just can't comply with the Clean Air Act, and besides it will cost too much and also cost jobs. Sorry no can do.
Riling the Republicans is the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled that carbon dioxide can be considered a pollutant because of global warming and is therefore subject to EPA regulation. But Republicans don't even believe in global warming! How can the Supreme Court rule on a non-existent thing?
The good news is that the movement to abolish the EPA is limited to the House. The GOP doesn't have control of the Senate or the presidency. It is our job to keep it that way and to recover the House from the lunatic fringe. This must be done in the name of our health, the atmosphere and the fight against breast cancer and other deadly diseases spread by Republican politics.
Photo: World Bank Photo Collection // CC 2.0