Pittsburgh is fortunate to have retained the presence of many of the movers and shakers who, a century ago, made the city one of the wealthiest in the country. One of the most interesting, and influential, is Teresa Heinz (Kerry) who brought us the Women's Health and the Environment conference I was privileged to attend. Reports on National Public Radio talked about the presence of Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA, Regina Benjamin, the U. S. Surgeon General and, of course, Teresa Heinz's talk about her personal battle with breast cancer. All of the them were interesting: Jackson, because it is the first time I have heard anyone from the EPA sound like they wanted to protect us or the environment; Heinz and Benjamin because both spoke very personally about their own experiences. The website promises to show videos of the presentations; I hope they will include all of Teresa Heinz's talk.
But the conference was much more than these three women. We spent the day at the convention center. While I have trouble sitting for long stretches, I found all of the presentations touched me, personally. I had no wish to leave. I wish you could have been with me; I think this was a very important event. When we arrived at the convention center, instead of the usual shopping bag and tables of literature, we were given flash drives filled with pdfs, to take home with us: information about the presenting organizations and speakers.
The focus of the conference was the number of manmade, probably toxic, chemicals we now have in our bodies. Even newborns have been found with 200 plus chemicals passed from the mother through the placenta. We don't know the effect of these chemicals but strongly suspect they are the cause of many cancers, asthma, autism, ADHD/ADD, obesity, diabetes, on and on. Many of the worst of these chemicals are found in the air and in ordinary things we have in our homes: children's toys like rubber ducks, canned food, packaged food, toothpaste, deodorants, receipts (those things you get when you use your charge card; chemicals enter the body through the skin), meat, chicken, cosmetics, personal care products like shampoo and body wash; the list goes on and on. Start here for more info; I'll put up a page of resources and links very soon.