There is no acceptable cost offset to protecting our children

To the Editor:

On Monday, Aug. 10, the Albany County Legislature is scheduled to vote on protecting our air quality from dangerous pollutants caused by the burning or related processing of waste. Local Law B, the Albany County Clean Air Law, needs to be passed right now to protect our health. Please ask our county legislators to vote for this law.

Two enterprises in Albany County pose a potential serious threat to our air quality: Norlite in Cohoes has burned many tons of firefighting foam known to contain carcinogenic chemicals, and LaFarge in Coeymans is proposing to incinerate massive numbers of tires in its cement kiln.

In 2018, air emissions data from the state identified 14 toxic air pollutants produced by LaFarge. According to research by EnergyJustice, tire-burning will add additional air pollutants including lead, benzene, dioxins, and several toxic compounds.

As a former director of the state’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), I well appreciate the critical impact of diet on fetal growth and development. Providing women with access to specific nutrients during pregnancy has shown to result in longer gestation periods and greater birth weight; both are healthy outcomes.

What women take into their bodies during pregnancy can have adverse effects as well. Exposure to various environmental pollutants in the air can cause health problems for women and their babies. For decades, we’ve enacted public policies that reflect our knowledge about prenatal risks such as requiring product warning labels on cigarettes in 1984 and labels on alcohol in 1989.

In 1951, DDT [dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane] was first found in breast milk. Exposure to DDT has been shown to affect reproductive health. Even though DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, it’s still found today in the environment and in breast milk.

Many so-called “forever chemicals” are present in breast milk. According to an article from EcoMENA on the Deleterious Impact of Tire Burning Kilns, children, fetuses, nursing babies, and elderly, asthmatics, and immune-suppressed individuals are all much more vulnerable to the pollutants released during burning tires. A nursing woman can transfer the pollutants she inhales to her baby through fat in her breast milk.

Unless we can guarantee that the emissions from burning firefighting foam, tires, or anything else will not adversely affect human life, we have the obligation not to allow burning them. There is no acceptable cost offset to protecting our children, including cheaper tire derived fuel.

Both Guilderland and Albany County are designated “Clean Energy Communities,” something we can be proud of. The Albany County Legislature has been visionary in passing environmental protections, from legislation that paved the way for the state to ban fracking, to the ban on toxic toys. Will Albany County continue to be a failsafe for protecting its residents?

Please ask your county legislators to pass Local Law B for all of our generations, including those to come.

Thank you.

Fran Porter


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