Time to stand up

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I am a registered nurse and have been for 25 years. Not far from where I live on Prince of Wales Island, the Department of Environmental Conservation has authorized a permit to Klukwan Inc., to aerially spray pesticides over a large area of Long Island. Toxic chemicals will be used to kill alder and Salmonberry in attempt to facilitate commercial timber growth.

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During the winter, I work health care contracts in the northern California Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley. Alaska receives the majority of its produce from that region. I work in emergency rooms and intensive care units in hospitals; I see high rates of asthma and cancer in young, healthy people. They aerially spray a lot of chemicals on produce in the San Joaquin Valley.

Many of us who live in Alaska came here for a cleaner environment. Why is our government allowing the spraying of poisons to start here, jeopardizing our food sources, our children's and our own health?

Pesticides applied on the ground are bad enough, but aerial spraying intensifies the ignorant use of toxic substances that go directly into soil, ground water, into the animals that feed on the plants, and run-off into the sea. They contaminate our marine habitat and aquatic life.

Over 99 percent of the 1,298 total comments DEC received for this permit and the previous permit opposed spraying. Why is DEC not listening to the concerned public? Our market for wild salmon could be affected with aerial pesticide spraying. We will start seeing tumors in our salmon and other abnormalities in foods we depend on for subsistence.

Long Island was heavily logged years ago. Alder, which grows in heavily disturbed soils, will drop its deciduous leaves fixing the nitrogen in the soil. Alder will make it healthier for the next growth of timber. A short-sighted rush to kill these plants and contaminate everything including "we the people" also means a lost opportunity for soil to heal. Future timber will be slow-growing and of inferior quality due to the lack of nutrients in that ground.

If you care about your health, your families and the environment, please "now" is the time to stand up. Contact your representatives and senators. Urge them to show leadership to stop the aerially spraying of pesticides. The alternative is what already curses the larger portion of our country: high rates of pollution, and high rates of asthma, cancers and other diseases that may be linked directly to toxic substances.

Jeri Rosenthal


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