Letters 2,4-D is,my pet peeve

To the editor:

Over the past year I have met some remarkable people � remarkable in that they care about the growing amount of toxins in the environment and how they adversely effect our health. Vermillion is not immune. In fact, Vermillion may be more pre-disposed to the use of chemicals in the environment than other communities due to surrounding agricultural influences.

I was surprised, for instance, at a recent school board meeting, that a cocktail of fungicides, pesticides and herbicides are used on the school grounds. Chemical weed control is used on the fields, public grounds, and parks. Think for a minute how much land like this Vermillion has � it is a blessing � but it is sprayed.

Given the amount of child and adolescent cancer in this town (at least eight cases diagnosed in the past few years including one case on Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma � a disease which has been linked to 2,4-D) it would seem to me perfectly reasonable to limit the use of certain suspect chemicals.

I first became aware of the problem in Vermillion when a neighbor misapplied 2,4-D next door � undiluted � and our family was subjected to the noxious fumes for an entire season. When we became ill � well into the winter � I became interested in the chemical and found it is sprayed on our school yards, golf courses, athletic fields, and parks.

The chemical is subject to drift, often causing problems where it wasn't intended � and it goes beyond killing an un-targeted rose bush. Many people suffer symptoms of bronchitis � sometimes bordering on asthma � after the first application is made in the spring � and sinusitis or bronchitis after the last application is made in the fall. Minor symptoms also include headaches, numbness, and irritability.

Technically, our family was subjected to an "acute exposure." But long term, low-dose exposure can be just as injurious, and even result in death. 2,4-D is classified by the 1990 Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant. It is on the EPA's community-right-to-know list. Yet, when was the last time you were informed? It is funny how often I hear: "It must be safe or it wouldn't be available." (Memories of DDT come to mind.) But according to a toxicology report on the chemical, 2,4-D is a mutagen, and as such is considered a possible cancer causing chemical.

It made up one-half of the Vietnam War defoliant known as "Agent Orange." Low-dose exposures have been shown to impair immune system function. Non-lethal doses can produce symptoms such as irritation of the mouth, esophagus, and gastrointestinal system, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal and chest pain, muscle spasm, pain and stiffness.

For those who wish to read further on the behavioral changes it causes in children, adverse effects to the nervous system, organs, thyroid function, myelin, and blood cells, the Journal of Pesticide Reform, Spring 1999 (web:http://www.efn.org/~ ncap) contains an in-depth profile on the chemical.

Let us not be the victims of "lawn care" chemical hype this spring and let our grassy areas be places our children can be safe.

Let's follow the example of health-conscious communities adopting chemical-free maintenance of parks and school grounds.

Chemically damaged lawns are more susceptible to drought. The soil becomes dead � with scarcely enough humus to retain moisture.

Please consider all the people in Vermillion you know with cancer or other health problems before applying a product containing 2,4-D which interferes with immune function.

Perhaps concerned citizens could "adopt" portions of our parks and school yards and keep them weed free. Perhaps people doing community service could pick weeds. Job Service and Rent-A-Kid are also available.

Anyone who feels strongly about this issue (or needs help picking dandelions) may call me at 624-5438 (leave message) or e-mail at www.affenpin@willinet.net.


April Gawboy


Vermillion families in thoughts and prayers

To the editor:

I'd like to offer our community a letter of condolence. I, too, was moved by Cynthia Haase's essay regarding her son's very unfortunate death. I hope and pray that communication has been opened up in our families regarding the extreme dangers of alcohol use and abuse, especially by our teens and college age young adults. Thank you, Cynthia, for sharing your letter. On the other hand, as a Christian, I am sorry that other Christian individuals (in reference to Susan Gray's letter) can use the incident to push the tough extremes of some religious beliefs on others at such a difficult time. I don't know Cynthia Haase but wonder if that response to her moving letter took her subject to a level that she did not intend it to go or if she would have wished to hear that message at this particular time.

I'd like to offer to both the community and to the grieving parents and friends of Adam Knutson, David Baier and Mike O'Connor the following message which I received and very much appreciated from my loving 25 year old niece who lives in Washington in regard to all that has happened:

"I'm sorry to hear about the boys in your community that have taken their lives. It's hard for those left behind to grapple with the emotional pain and sadness. I've been in similar situations � yes, more than once � and I fully understand the sense of loss, confusion, frustration, hurt, anger, helplessness, etc. In time the pain is lessened. God is a great and wonderful comforter and healer. God still loves those boys and knew what was tormenting them. I believe that he is gently nurturing their hearts and sins. I pray that God is forgiving and merciful with their eternal souls and I believe he will be. Life can be difficult with trials such as these. I pray that God gives you and the members in your community a sense of peace. I also pray that he comes into your lives as the Wonderful Counselor and brings you to the spiritual place that he wants you to be."

I thank my niece for this inspired letter and wish to again express my feelings of sympathy (which I'm sure many share) for the parents and friends.


Cindy Gehm


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