Protecting the Environment is a Health Care Issue

The current debate about health care seems seriously lacking in one important way: there's no focus on the environmental problems that make so many of us sick.

Just scan the front pages of this week's New York Times if you need to be convinced. "Health Ills Abound as Farm Runoff Fouls Wells," documents instances of children contracting serious ear infections, some requiring surgery, from bathing in polluted water.  "Toxic Waters: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected at a Cost in Suffering" focuses on scabs and rashes being inflicted on children because their tap water contains barium, lead, arsenic and many other toxins that cause cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system. A Fight Grows Over Labeling on Cleaning Products addresses consumer concerns that the chemicals in common household cleansers are giving people asthma, acne, nervous disorders, and more.

Maybe it's time fror Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to put their heads together and realize that America could reduce health care costs significantly if we focused on cleaning up the planet. And get some of those polluters to help foot the bill. The cleaning products industry alone is a $14 billion/yr enterprise.

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