I’m a bit of a malcontent this afternoon.

I’m reading this article about this history of Bisphenol-A, its use in plastics, and its finally being identified as harmful to humans at doses that we are probably routinely exposed to when, say, microwaving leftovers in a Tupperware container.

What we’re now learning are developmental toxins have been an integral part of the celebrated progress of the 20th century.  Plastics made it possible!  Innovation!  Convenience!  The space shuttle!  Abnormal prostate growth!

My exposure to BPA and the rest of them is at once something over which I have little control–for the better part of my life we had no idea this shit was bad, and anyway I was a child who didn’t make my own choices about what containers my food was put into and came out of.  And now that I do know, it makes me want to convert entirely to storing leftovers in used glass spaghetti jars and throw out, I mean recycle, all my plastic containers because I don’t fucking want cancer.

My grandmother had nonmalignant, estrogen-related tumors removed when I was in elementary school.  She was, what, in her early seventies? and it ended up not being a big deal.  I.e. the surgery went well and she’s not suffered ill effect since then.  And then my mother developed the same tumors, ten years later, but she was twenty years younger, and seven years after that they came back as cancer.

It could be genetics, but it could also be shared environment.  The toxic chemicals in pesticides and consumer products, the residual hormones in factory-farmed meat, are developments of the last fifty years, so wouldn’t you expect exposure to have increased and for the effects to be more pronounced in each younger generation?  Fuck me.

So I’m left wondering if there’s the slimmest chance that by spending more money on organic milk, I might save on hospital bills and hardship later.  Or if there’s nothing I can do because anyway I’ve already been exposed, and besides, what else don’t we know is harmful yet?

It’s a problem that there’s no such thing as scientific regress.  Every new development or technology is called progress, when the idea of progress is actually a value judgment, not an objective truth.  Being able to do more becomes synonymous with doing better, and absolves us from evaluating the actual improvement of our lives as a result.  I shouldn’t lay it all on science.  Business is what’s capitalized on this fact, and marketed it and tried to avoid anyone discovering that the things making our modern lives possible and profitable are also killing us.

Accepting that medical catheters and computers and lightweight prosthetic limbs have improved the lives of those of us fortunate enough to have access, really, though, is the Swiffer progress over the mop?  Are plastic sandwich bags progress over the days of tin lunch boxes?  And isn’t if fucked up that if we answer yes, in means that disposability is synonymous with improvement?


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