Editor’s Note: Olympic High School began offering a Journalism elective to students for the first time this year. The following news and op-ed pieces were produced by three students from the class and are printed here as part of a partnership with the Daily Press.
Water contamination is harmful to the human body and the ecosystem throughout Santa Monica year round. There are several contaminants including plastic residue from food and product packaging, which most of the time is neither biodegradable nor compostable, and air pollution, which also ends up seeping into our water funnels. The aforementioned contaminants negatively impact hormones, brain development, and the reproductive system in people’s bodies. Additionally, not only do these same pollutants negatively impact humans, animal species and plant vegetation in the ocean are internally and externally affected as well through the bioaccumulation of these chemicals.
Poor water quality can lead to gastrointestinal illness and a range of other conditions, including neurological problems and cancer. A portion of infectious water is due to the poisonous chemicals such as carcinogens and pesticides found in commercial products which may contribute to acute poisonings and other toxic effects seeping through water channels. Bans on lead in gasoline and PCB (organic chlorine compound) have led to significant reductions of water health hazards. Many infectious compounds made synthetically exceed EPA safety standards, and government regulations can take decades to enact. Therefore, it is of vital importance to get involved in any way, no matter how substantial.
According to the Environmental Working Group, over 93% of Americans have Bisphenol-A (BPA) in their bodies. This is an organic compound which is poorly soluble in water. Conversely, the European Commission has tightened regulations on the use of BPA. Europe has banned over 1,300 dangerous chemicals; however, thus far, the US has only restricted 30. This poses some obvious concerns. Per the company 100% Pure, “…the EU bans chemicals in a way that is preventative. They begin taking measures to ban a chemical as soon as there is evidence of its harm. The US on the other hand has a higher expectation of evidence showing the harm of the chemical before they put any regulations on it. This obviously can take time and can be difficult to produce, thus limiting their ability to begin shutting its use down before it’s way too late.” For obvious reasons, it would behoove us to follow the European model here in the states. The question is, why aren’t we already?
One billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the US, and approximately 5.6 billion pounds are used worldwide. Furthermore, the US Department of Agriculture states 500 million people in the United States obtain their drinking water from groundwater that is contaminated by pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. The Westfield Century City mall, among many other public destinations, have installed water filtration systems whereby water may be deposited into one’s own water bottle in the most purest form.
Per the United Nations’ mission statement, “Technological progress is the foundation of efforts to achieve environmental objectives.” Evidence on these advances may be accessible through Goodguide and Oroeco applications, which allow people to access their daily carbon footprint, potentially leading to more informed decisions long term. Recently, over 30 musically inclined artists have published a music video called “Earth,” which emphasizes the need to take into consideration what products humans are consuming, and how crucial it is to put more thought into the essential items purchased every day on a long term basis. For example, Jaden Smith’s water company called JUST Goods, strives to sell the purest water packed in sustainable packaging to the public. Also, Justin Bieber recently collaborated with Schmidt’s to launch a natural deodorant packed in sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging.
Inhabitants of Santa Monica may volunteer to help maintain clean drinking water in efforts to reduce pollution in the water consumed every single day. To get involved, consider volunteering at organizations such as the EPA Watershed Academy, Heal The Bay, The Water Keeper, The Office of Water, and The Bay Foundation aid in assisting the community by picking up bits of waste and upgrading technology, keeping oceans and wildlife clean and safe.
In my opinion, individuals should gradually enforce changes by opting for a zero waste lifestyle in efforts to reduce the amount of plastic and unrecyclable materials dumped into oceans and landfills. Plastic straws should be banished from people’s kitchen and replaced with stainless steel straws. Also, single use plates and other utensils should be replaced with reusable kitchenware in the long term. Homes should utilize reusable bags and water bottles, compost leftover food, and recycle plastic to avoid polluting water.
There are many measures communities may incorporate to prevent drinking unhealthy water. For example, all schools should upgrade their traditional water fountains to LINKS water dispensers. People should always be aware of the ingredients list for the moment.
At the community level, Santa Monica should encourage businesses to put higher regulations on water contaminants. At a federal level, regulation is essential to protect all Americans from the harmful effects of exposures to hormone-disrupting chemicals. People may volunteer and help around the community. If all else fails, citizens may make official changes by joining forces with non-profit organizations to advocate for and promote needed legislation. In our current regulatory framework, harm must be proven after these chemicals are already in use. Chemicals should be tested for their potential to impact the water sources, before they are allowed in the marketplace.
by Tiffany Elghanian