Chemicals In The Environment Essay, Research Paper
Chemicals In The Environment
In today’s society chemicals, whether you like it or not are a fact of life. Many people are afraid of chemicals and their effects on them and the environment. This is understandable because the truth of the matter is that chemicals can do some horrible things to humans, animals and the whole ecosystem. Some would say that chemicals should be done away with for these reasons. But this certainly is not true and most likely impossible. Chemicals can also have some very positive effects on our lives. Some uneducated people would argue that there should not be restrictions on chemicals. This is just as crazy as saying that chemicals should be done away with. If chemicals are regulated and people abide by those regulations set in place then we should be able to benefit from their use while at the same time minimizing their negative effects.
The negative effects of chemicals in the environment is a long list. When living things and ecosystems are exposed to some chemicals in certain doses bad things can and will happen. However these same chemicals can have beneficial uses. An article off the lineone. net website tells some effects:
Breast Cancer has been estimated to have increased in incidence by one percent per year since the 1940’s in the
United States, and has increased by 50 percent in Denmark between 1945 and 1980. It has also increased in incidence in the United Kingdom over the last few decades. Research has suggested a link between breast cancer and exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals such as DDT, dioxin and PCB’s (2).
In another article on this site it tells the uses of the hormone disrupting chemicals. DDT which has been banned is an insecticide that was used for many years in the United States. PCB’s or Polychlorinated Biphenyls, and dioxins are chemicals in electrical transformers and capacitors. Some people would say that because PCB’s and Dioxins cause cancer that they should be done away with. However they do not realize that this would mean giving up their electricity in their homes and their transportation. This is because every home uses a transformer to convert its electricity to a usable voltage. And without capacitors to keep the amperage and voltage in phase cars would not run properly. (1)
Speaking of cars, who does not use one pretty regular? Cars, buses, trucks, planes, construction equipment, all run on combustion engines. A combustion engine must be fueled by some type of fossil fuel. When a fossil fuel is burned it releases many chemicals some
which are likely pathogens such as, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, PM-10, Benzene, Formaldehyde, Polyeyche
Hydrocarbons. The direct benefits of these chemicals may be hard to see however they are a necessary if we intend to keep on using our cars (Environmed Research Inc. 2).
Atrazine is a commonly used corn herbicide in the United States. The lineone website says:
The herbicide atrazine has been shown to affect the reproductive system development in rats. Mothers were dosed with atrazine and their offspring showed a delay in vaginal opening in the females and a higher incidence of prostate inflammation in the males. Atrazine has also been shown to affect hormone metabolism in women, which may have possible implications for breast cancer. (4)
Fungicides are chemicals used to protect crops from funguses that can destroy whole crops. Carbendazim is a fungicide, in the same article it says:
It disrupts the production of sperm and damages testicular development in adult rats, probably partly through disrupting the assembling of cells in tissues which is the same way as carbendazim works as a fungicide. In
addition, carbendazim is also a teratogen damaging development of mammals in the womb. Experiments have
shown that exposure of developing rats in the womb leads to deformities such as lack of eyes and hydrocephalus (”water on the brain”). (1)
The insecticide Trichlorfon was also listed in this article:
The organophosphate insecticide Trichlorfon has been listed as a potential endocrine disrupter by the German Federal Environment Agency, who report that it can cause mammary tumors and affect sperm and egg production. A cluster of Down’s syndrome children in Hungary was associated with consumption of fish from a local fish farm after the fish had become excessively contaminated by trichlorfon. A degradation product of trichlorfon, dichlorvos, has been shown to damage immune system function in humans; trichlorfon itself damages immune function in Carp. (3)
With all the adverse effects of chemicals shown in these research reports it would seem that the bad outweighs the good by far. This is not entirely true. For one thing this research can not be credited as being one-hundred percent accurate. When chemicals are released into
the environment whatever way that might be, they are generally at low doses over long periods of time. This is not how the tests are carried
out. To find out how organisms react to chemicals, scientists expose them to large doses over a short period of time. Some would assume that one way is just as bad as the other. However if this were true then cereal would be deadly as it contains such minerals as zinc and iron
which in high quantities can be lethal, but small doses spread over a period of time are actually good for your body ( Uncertainty 1).
The EPA or Environmental Protection Agency was started in 1970. It is responsible for protecting and maintaining the environment for future generations. They try to diminish air, water, noise, and radiation pollution. Also pollution from pesticides and other toxic substances. They have established standards for air quality and enforce them. They conduct all kinds of research on noise and garbage disposal, They also regulate the handling, control and use of pesticides. They set and monitor residue levels in humans, food, and wildlife (Encarta 1).
I realize that chemicals can be dangerous. However I feel they are something that should be respected not feared. In the United States we have the EPA which is doing a good job at making out country a safer place. Because of the agency I do not worry about the food I eat or the
water I drink. I am not saying that everything is as good as it could be and that everything is safe, but I believe the United States is far ahead
of other countries in terms of safety. I also know that there is more that can be done and believe that it will get better. If we continue to make safer chemicals, keep using lower doses then I believe the benefits of chemicals will by far outweigh any negative points they may have.
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