Anyone seen “Erin Brokavitch”?

In 1993, California faced a legal-envornmental crisis involving the Pacific Gas and Electric Company and its unintentional contamination of water in the Southern California city of “Hinckley”. The final settlement was a shocking $333 million. Many who were exposed to the hazardous “hexavalent chromium” are still suffering.

Radiation exposure and environmental pollution can be a serious concern to all, and particularly devastating to a baby in the womb. Severe health effects depend on the gestational age of the baby at the time of the radiation exposure, as well as how much exposure is involved. During the early stages of development, about 2-15 weeks, the consequences seem to be most severe. (if the baby has not yet reached a gestation period of at least 2 weeks, the result of radiation exposure is often death.)

Effects of those exposed to radiation might include any or all of the following:

  • deformities of the limbs (see pg. 100 of our book)
  • stunted growth
  • problems with brain function
  • more likely to develop cancer later in life
  • at risk for low IQ and intelligence, and difficulty with language.

Not to mention the emotional burden involved.

Although radiation exposure and environmental pollution are difficult to anticipate, expectant mothers can avoid hazardous teratogens associated with these issues. Examples of this might be to refrain from eating fish while pregnant (mercury is prevalent in many fish, particularly predatory fish) as well as to to avoid areas in which lead paint might be used such as old buildings and historic establishments. The effects of lead and mercury poisoning are not as harmful as radiation exposure, but can lead to prematurity, low birth weight, and poor mental/motor development.

Kellie Gibson


~ by alicefairinloveandwar on September 3, 2009.

3 Responses to “Anyone seen “Erin Brokavitch”?”

  1. You’re post is very unique. I have never really thought about what could be in our water and other things that we come in contact with on a daily basis. It’s amazing to read the facts you found on what the effects of radiation on a person could be. They are devastating. And using the movie ” Erin Brokavitch” tied in perfectly.

    – Ashley Crawford

  2. This post is kind of scary. It brings to my attention all the radiation storage we have in Utah, and if a disaster occured out there our children could potentially look like the one on page 100 (from Chernobyl in Ukraine after a nuclear disaster.) We also need to be careful with what we do put in our water and food. I remember a couple of years ago our city had a vote on wheter we should put fluoride in the water in order to benefit our teeth. I wonder if everyone considered what fluoride could do to an embyro or fetus and not just our teeth. The fluoride was voted into our water, and fortunately there have been no widespread birth defects. I just hope we realize what chemicals will do to all aspects of our body.

  3. I think that expectant mothers should be as proactive as possible in learning about the pollutants in their area. Possible teratogens can also be communicated to expectant mothers by doctors. Hospitals are a great place to receive and gather information like this. The effects that radiation can do onto babies are fierce, however it seems like these kinds of matters would also be foreseen and communicated to the public. A dedicated mother would most likely easily avoid such a matter that could cause such harm to her beloved expectant baby. I do think it is still very important that mothers understand the effects that teratogens can have on their infants and react accordingly.

    Reuben Cousin

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