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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/19/11

Rat Poop in the Pancakes

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Message Maura Stephens
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Drat! Rat poop in the pancake mix. I promised the kids pancakes this morning! Can't afford to buy another box, and besides, who has time? I'll just add some chocolate chips and raisins--they'll never know the difference. A little rat poop won't kill 'em.
You want us to eat THAT?
You want us to eat THAT?
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Uh . . . should this person be parenting?

We might be horrified at her attitude, and her kids would surely be taken from her if anyone were to send child-protection authorities to investigate. But she's actually no worse than any other parent who's trying to do the right thing by her kids, but making some terrible decisions. Or having no choice.

This mother is jeopardizing her kids' health in many ways--just as is every a parent who's leased her land to gas frackers. But if she didn't lease her land, and fracking is going to happen anyway, she might as well be feeding her kids rat poop.

Rat droppings can cause a number of diseases, including hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, whose symptoms include headaches, dizziness, and chills, as well as abdominal problems such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe pain. HPS is fatal in about 38 percent of cases.

Among the diseases caused by fracking chemicals are respiratory diseases. Because fracking corporations (corporate "persons" under current law) have more rights than actual human persons, and operate with such secrecy than even emergency room doctors can't find out what poisons to treat exposed patients for, we'll never know just how many of these diseases will be fatal.

Oh no! Glass shards in the orange juice. Well, at least they're clear and you can't see them. And they're small enough, they should go down the kids' little throats without hurting anything too serious.

Glass shards can rip delicate tissues in children and adults. No sane parent would allow his child to swallow them. But the chemicals used in fracking include those that directly affect our tissues; that disrupt our bodies' systems, including our reproductive function; that hurt fetal development (when we are able to reproduce); mess with our nervous system and behavior; and frack up our immune systems.

Would anyone sane play with her kid's health this way?

Playing with our kids' health is just what we do if we open our land up to fracking, or allow our community to embrace this supposedly-good-for-the-local-economy activity.

There's so much traffic out front today with that big sale at the mall. I hope the boys are keeping an eye on Tessa. My little angel, she's the quickest of them all. Not even seven months old when she started to walk last week! And now she's running all over the place. Maybe she'll be a tennis star someday!

No sane parent would send her toddler out to play in the street, especially in known heavy traffic. The number of trucks (up to 1,440 truck trips per fracked well) passing through a small town or rural area will endanger pedestrians while destroying roads and clogging the air with diesel exhaust. Adding to the air quality problems are gas storage tanks and compressors. In Fort Worth, Texas, where the Barnett shale is being fracked, they cause as much smog as all vehicle traffic in the area. In Dish, Texas, where many pipelines and compressor stations are situated, thousands of trees have died, farm animals have expired of unexplained causes, and people have developed a range of unusual health conditions.

I wish I'd reminded Tommy to make sure he put the safety on his 22. Well, the kids will all be in for breakfast in a couple minutes.

Guns with ammo and no safety, well, we might as well feed our kids arsenic directly. Among the chemicals used in fracking -- which WILL and DOES, not "might," end up in drinking water, maybe yours, maybe not -- are arsenic, barium, benzene, ethylbenzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, glycol ethers, hydrochloric acid, methanol, napthlalene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sodium hydroxide, toluene, and xylene.

Whose drinking water will this stuff poison? Whose air? Whose food supply? With whose lives are we willing to gamble? Who is willing to be the collateral damage?

As parents, we're supposed to protect our children. But what can we do when we are forced to offer them up as potential collateral damage?

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An independent journalist, theater artist, educator, activist, and public speaker, Maura Stephens writes and presents most regularly about media, environmental issues, and national and international politics. Her work frequently appears in (more...)
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