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Misc

3M PFOS

Several layers of corruption. Bring forth the criminal charges and put these people in prison.

[…]

Last year she found out her 65-year-old mother had 1,100 micrograms of PFOS per liter of blood—a concentration more typically found in industrial wastewater. Her 68-year-old father had about 800. Her 19-year-old daughter tested at 300. D’Hollander’s own level had come down to about 100, which she attributes to not eating eggs and to breastfeeding, a theory backed up by studies showing mothers pass on high amounts of the chemical through their milk. She and her mother both have malfunctioning thyroids, a condition now associated with PFOS, and doctors have told them that at some point the drugs they take for the condition will stop working. Other health problems associated with high PFOS levels include high cholesterol, diabetes, hormone and immune disorders, and even diminished vaccine efficacy.

[…]

One sample showed 257,000 micrograms per liter, according to a 3M-commissioned study submitted to the Flemish waste management agency. For context, Minnesota’s current safe limit is 0.015 micrograms per liter.

[…]

After more than a decade of fighting, Flemish officials were eager to go ahead with the Oosterweel. They needed 3M’s help. In November 2018, Lantis and 3M signed their secret pact allowing the most dangerous of the toxic dirt (with 70 to 1,000 micrograms of PFOS per kilo) to be dumped on 3M’s site. Lantis argued Flemish regulations allowed it to move the soil without treating it as toxic waste as long as it served a function, in this case a security wall. Lantis estimated it would cost €63 million to move all that soil. 3M’s cost would be €75,000.

[…]

The Province of Antwerp planned to move roughly 4 million cubic meters of soil from the tunnel-highway project to a nature reserve far south.

[…]

Alongside health anxieties, farmers in the area have lost business. Koen Doggen grows organic vegetables that he sells to consumers through a subscription service. He says tests last summer showed his soil had more than twice the level of PFOS at which the government says sanitization is required. “I considered quitting,” he says. “I didn’t know if I wanted to work on contaminated soil. I breathe it in daily in the summer and wash it off my skin every evening. I wondered how I could ever sell this product again now that Zwijndrecht has become PFOS land, like it’s Chernobyl.”

[…]

High concentrations of PFBSA had made it into fish in the estuary of the western side of the Scheldt leading into the North Sea, according to a study paid for by residents of Zwijndrecht late last year. Flounder in the estuary had 24 micrograms of PFOS, seven times above safe limits for people who eat fish once a week.

[…]

Last autumn, 3M’s chief medical officer, Oyebode Taiwo, flew to Antwerp from the US to defend the company in Parliament. He argued that blood tests showing high PFOS levels weren’t proof the chemical caused the health problems that individuals were experiencing. “It could be due to reverse causation, meaning that it’s not the exposure that is causing the health outcome, but it is the health outcome that is causing the exposure to build up,” he said.

In other words, he argued certain people with specific health conditions are more prone to build up PFAS chemicals in their blood. Scientifically, the idea is dubious. Legally, it’s absurd, says Berezofsky. She points to the “eggshell skull” rule accepted in US law. “If I walk down the street and I hit somebody over the head, a normal person with a normal skull may just feel a bump. Somebody who has a skull made of an eggshell might die,” she says. “I’m still responsible. The fact that they have an eggshell skull does not relieve me of the liability of what I did.”

[…]

Source: Bloomberg
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Misc

Photojournalism

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Misc

Car-centric cities

Having been fortunate enough to have seen quite a few parts of the world, and having been in Singapore for 6 years now — I’ve been able to start comparing places and looking at the “where next” question.

With Ila on the way, both as a parent and if I were a kid still — where would I want to grow up?

Growing up wasn’t a fan of Grimbergen because it was quite dull (but then again, it was very close to Brussels, and easily connected to Antwerp): I wanted a city, and that’s why I moved to Antwerp (and later Singapore).

Yet, now that I also value quality of life, Singapore is not very high on that list either. There’s an insane pressure on kids to be top of class and to perform, limited to no safe outdoor activities unless you live in a place with a pool/tennis court (everything else feels fake, you can’t get dirty as a kid), the lack of ownself transport methods (bike, skateboard, etc) to go to school/friends (public transport rocks, but that’s never as convenient as a bike for short distances).

I’m currently having mixed feelings between the big house in a quiet neighbourhood (not Suburbia, but something more like Finland/Norway outside of cities, with a forest, next to your home) vs. being in a city like Copenhagen.

While I would love to being closer to nature, I’d probably miss the benefits of the city life (like being close to an airport — we need to visit Belgium and Singapore after all, take-away food, quick and easy shopping, more friends/school options, a cinema, etc).

I wouldn’t mind this being my daily view. Lapland, Finland.

By the way, Johan has a good blog about living off-grid — which is a bit too extreme for me.

A city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen is probably a safer choice: less green, but easy and safe to get around as a pedestrian/biker, while still being in relative distance of nature or an escape out of the city.

Copenhagen: beautiful, individual freedom, tons of culture

And no, I won’t head back to Brussels; it’s a terrible for kids. It’s the wild west, where cars rule and the police won’t act.

Brussels.

Ghent and Antwerp are investing in car-free zones and making it pedestrian friendly, but I hate Antwerp’s lack of greenery (many beautiful trees are cut, everything is stone and concrete and feels like death. Moreover, it’s one big traffic jam due to lack of a sustainable solution to keep the cars out).

Antwerp Kaai: Imagine summer + global warming. Scorching death. Where are the trees?

Oh, and I got myself a Halfbike. So I’ll definitely be looking at places with biking lanes. 😉

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Misc

It’s hard to explain evil: mental illness

If we cast a wider net and examine violence more broadly, evidence suggests mental illness does not cause violence. Large epidemiological studies have shown that rates of violence among people with mild-to-moderate mental illnesses range from 2%4%, compared to 1%-3% in the general population. One of the strongest longitudinal studies, called the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study, found that only 1% of patients discharged from psychiatric facilities committed an act of violence against a stranger with a gun.

[…]

So not all mass shooters have mental illnesses. And the overwhelming majority of people with mental illness will not commit mass murder (or violence in general). This suggests that other factors are more important in predicting mass violence. Experts believe the following factors, especially in combination, are more predictive:

a/ Particular motivations, such as revenge or envy. A type of mass murderer identified by some experts is the “pseudocommando,” who “kills in public during the daytime, plans [the] offense well in advance, . . . comes prepared with a powerful arsenal of weapons,” expects to die during the massacre, and is driven by intense anger, resentment, and revenge.

b/ Adoption of extremist beliefs that promote the use of violence to attain one’s goals. There is a growing concern in the U.S. about the rise of extremist groups and influences and their relationship to mass killings.

c/ Social isolation. When people with these and other characteristics that put them at risk for violence become socially isolated, the combination can place them at even greater risk.

Whether one terms these characteristics dysfunction or evil, such behaviors do not constitute a diagnosable and treatable health condition.

A research group studying mass shootings for decades (called The Violence Project) concluded that mass shootings are largely the results of a constellation of behaviors involving a buildup of childhood trauma, an identifiable crisis point (separate from psychosis), the need to blame someone, and the opportunity to conduct a mass shooting (i.e. access to firearms).

Blaming mental illness entirely “conceals it more than it reveals it.”

Source: Katelyn Jetelina
Categories
Misc

Charleroi metro line that never opened