Utah Doctors Join “Occupy” Movement

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/27-3

by Brian Moench
Published on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Taking inspiration from the Occupy Movement, last week a group of doctors and environmental groups in Salt Lake City, Utah announced a law suit against the third largest mining corporation in the world, Rio Tinto, for violating the Clean Air Act in Utah. This is likely the first time ever that physicians have sued industry for harming public health.

Air pollution causes between 1,000 and 2,000 premature deaths every year in Utah. Moreover, medical research in the last ten years has firmly established that air pollution causes the same broad array of diseases well known to result from first and second hand cigarette smoke–strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, virtually every kind of lung disease, neurologic diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, loss of intelligence, chromosomal damage, higher rates of diabetes, obesity, adverse birth outcomes and various cancers such as lung cancer, breast cancer and leukemia.

Most of Utah’s cities are in violation of many of the EPA’s national air quality standards, and for several days during a typical winter Utah is plagued by the worst air pollution in the country. The American Lung Association routinely gives Utah’s largest cities an “F” for our air quality. Last February, Forbes magazine, hardly a cheerleader for excessive environmental protection, rated Salt Lake City as the nineth most toxic city in the country, and the biggest contributor to that ranking was the mining and smelting operations at the Bingham Canyon mine, run by London-based mining conglomerate Rio Tinto/Kennecott (RTK).

This mine is the world’s largest man made excavation and has created the largest mining related water pollution problem in the world. The mine is located on the western doorstep of Salt Lake City, home to well over one million people. There is no comparable juxtaposition of an enormous mining operation this close to such a large urban center. RTK’s mine and smelter operations account for 30% of the particulate matter emitted into the atmosphere over Salt Lake County, making it by far the largest source of industrial pollution in the urban areas of Utah.

Continue reading at:    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/27-3

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