Introduction

Very little of our world is now pristinely clean in the old-time, pre-petroleum sense. The sad fact is that in these modern times we live in a sea of pollutants. Tiny particles of these potentially health-damaging chemicals are in the air we must breathe, the water we must drink, and the food we must eat. But pollution is always a point somewhere on a spectrum: It can be worse, it can be better. If you learn what and where the worst pollution problems are, you can protect yourself and your family.

I used to believe the cities were the polluted places and that rural living guaranteed clean everything—air, water, soil. I've undergone a rude awakening from that assumption. I've discovered that the urban areas in which political power is centered and where pollution decisions are usually made routinely send polluting industries and toxic waste out to rural areas, where "nobody" lives.

So when you're looking for a place to live in the country, or if you already live there, you're quite likely to encounter a nearby nuclear power plant or nuclear waste dump; a weapons storage site, practice range, or testing site; a toxic waste incinerator (downwinders get the exposure); or a toxic or not-as-toxic waste/garbage dump site. More such facilities are being built all the time as industrial and urban areas desperately seek ways to unload their ever-growing mountains of nuclear, chemical, and just-plain-garbage waste. There have even been incidents in which forest dwellers, their children, or livestock were sickened by overhead or roadside chemical spraying.

NOTE: Know who is dumping or plans to dump, and what and where they plan to dump, in your region. So much money can be made in both legal and illegal dumping that it's realistic to be a little suspicious.

The only real solution is for a society not to produce this type of waste. But that's hard, if not impossible, in our type of economy and world. There are no easy or absolute answers. But if you have an existing or would-be polluter in your area, it's simple self-defense to fight to keep your region from being a dumping ground. You have to. And a lot of local battles can add up to a national trend. It is a sad truth, however, that any toxics you successfully fight will just be taken to some other less-organized, less-resistant area.

Continue reading here: Pollution Matters

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