Thursday, November 22, 2007

Arsenic and Blankets...

Now, I haven't said this before, but I meant to. The only way for me to do this is to be shameless -- as in, admit what I don't know even if it might be completely mundane.

Native American Indians used to spread blankets on top of water where natural leaks occurred to collect oil.

Today I learned that the current methods of oil production cause the release of arsenic, mercury, hydrogen sulfide and polysyclic aromatic hydrocarbons into the air, water and earth. It's not a surprise, I guess -- I just didn't know.

I spent some time trying to figure out what polysyclic aromatic hydrocarbon was, but couldn't find a definition in the limited time allowed before my five-year-old gets sick of playing solitaire next to me. I was always intrigued by arsenic as a weapon for poison because I'm a big fan of almonds, and arsenic is supposed to taste and or smell like almonds. Mercury is so prevalent in our oceans that pregnant women are constantly advised and readvised about the dangers of eating too much big fish -- salmon, tuna etc... The information is mixed. Looking around this morning it seems that some advisories are being reversed, because there is research showing that the OIL in fish is invaluable to brain development -- no one is saying that fish aren't contaminated, though. How much mercury must we be dumping in order to significantly impact one fish that lives so far out in the ocean that fisherpeople risk their lives just to find them?

Incidentally, I learned a few years ago that tuna mate for life.

I can't stop thinking about the blankets. About smallpox. Disease and mercury. Indians and tuna.

No comments: