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December 01, 1997 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-12-01

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 1, 1997
Threat from contaminants greater for children than adults

Los Angeles Times
The five most serious environmental
threats to children in the United States
are lead, air pollution, pesticides, tobac-
co smoke and contaminated drinking
water, according to a study released last
Tuesday by the Natural Resources
Defense Council.
The report by the council, a nonprof-
it environmental group, states that the
threats are worse for children than

adults because "children are both more
exposed to contaminants present in the
environment and more physiologically
susceptible to certain environmental
Exposure levels are higher, the report
states, because "children breathe more
air, drink more water and consume
more food as a percentage of their body
weight." In addition, children face
greater risks because some of their

organs may not be fully developed and
are more vulnerable to injury, the report
Low levels of lead, it notes, "can
decrease IQ, cause reading and learning
disabilities, reduce attention span and
cause behavioral problems."
Although lead has been banned from
gasoline and paint, about 900,000 chil-
dren under the age of 6 are estimated to
have more of it in their blood than is
considered safe by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
Common sources of exposure
include lead in old house paint, in dust
and soil from paint chips, industrial
emissions and from some water pipes.
As recently as 1995, the study says,
about 18 million children under the age
of 10 lived in areas where air quality did
not meet federal standards. The risks
are greatest for children with pre-exist-
ing respiratory ailments, including asth-
The report recommends "adopting

more aggressive programs to control air
pollution, such as tightening emissions
requirements for new vehicles, cleaning
up existing cars and improved trans-
portation strategies and alternatives."
The report links pesticides with a
variety of ailments, including several
types of cancer. "In cases of cancers,
most exposures are by parents before
and during pregnancy," said Laurie
Mott, the author of the study and a sci-
entist with the council. Mott said risks
also arise from the use of household
Meanwhile, 150,000 to 300,000 chil-
dren under the age of 18 get respiratory
infections from breathing secondhand
tobacco smoke, either from cigarettes
or from smokers who exhale smoke,
Mott said.
Her report advocates the elimination
of advertising of tobacco products tar-
geted at teen-agers and the adoption of
smoking bans in all public places.
According to the report: "Children

According to a recent study, the five
most serious environmental threats to
children in the united States are lead,
air pollution, pesticides, tobacco,4
smoke and contaminated drinking

are at particular risk from drinking
water contaminants, not only because
they consume 2 1/2 times more water as
a percentage of their body weight than
adults but because of federal standards
for pollutants are set based on anticipat-
ed effects on adults."
Among the hazards in drinking water
are microorganisms and certain chemi-
cal byproducts of chlorination and a
variety of contaminants that may come
from the ground, from leaking storage
tanks and a variety of agricultural and

industrial sources.
The report also says that nonwhite
children face the greatest risks from all
five sources of environmental harm.
"More black and Hispanic childrtg
have unacceptable levels of lead in their
blood than white children," it says.
"More Hispanic and African American
children suffer from asthma and there-
fore are most vulnerable to the effects
of air pollution. Children of farm work-
ers are more likely to be exposed to pes-

: ~ {
Prospective Teacher Education Meeting
Wednesday, December 8, 1997
6:00 p.m.
Schorling Auditorium
Room 1202 School of Education Building
Call 764-7563 for more information.

Federal magistrate looks .
at tobacco lawsuit papers

Texas' case against the tobacco indus-
try inched forward last Tuesday as a
federal magistrate considered whether
about 30 internal documents should be

admitted as evidence.
If U.S. Magistrate Wendell Radford
sides with attorney Ron Motley, who is
leading the Texas case, the state could
use the documents to attempt to prove
the tobacco industry conspired against
American smokers, with lawyers die
tating everything from scientists' stud
results to campaigns suggesting ciga-
rettes as a hip alternative activity for
Motley argued that some of the
memos illustrate how lawyers for the
tobacco companies were "coaching
scientists in the industry to what they
can say" and how the companies went
to great lengths to avoid discovery in
courtrooms across the nation.
"It shows a pattern of conduct,
Motley said.
Motley represents a majority of the
38 states with pending lawsuits against
the tobacco industry. Several states
also have class-action lawsuits filed.
The proceeding in Beaumont began
last Monday with Radford and the two
sides spending four hours discussing
what criteria should be met before the
judge even would consider the firs
document. W
"These are all documents that were
generated as privileged documents.
They were stolen a few years back and
then in 1992 were spread out on the
Internet and made publicly available
without any legal process whatsoever.
Those documents are privileged until a
judge decides otherwise' said David
Bernick, a spokesman for Brown &
Williamson Tobacco Co.
Motley said the documents were lav0
fully obtained, playfully referring to
some of them as "liberated," a reference
to a series of documents that a former
paralegal has been accused of releasing.
Brown & Williamson claims that
Merrell Williams, who once worked
for the law firm representing the com-
pany, took documents from his
employer. The papers found their way
to the Internet. Brown & Williamson
has said in court papers that ant9
tobacco lawyers paid for Williams
house, cars and boat in return for
copies of the documents.
Radford said he would consider
ing that was already before U.S.
Drict Judge David Folsom in
Tcarkana, where Texas' lawsuit
against eight tobacco companies and
three trade groups is filed. The state is
attempting to recover money it says
has been spent on Medicaid for trea
ing tobacco-related illnesses.
It is not unusual to have a federal
magistrate consider auxiliary matters,
such as evidence in a lawsuit this large
and unwieldy.
Radford made it through the 30 or
so documents by Tuesday afternoon
then told attorneys to meet back today
for another round of 50 the plaintiffs'
attorneys want considered.
What Radford must determine first
whether the documents may be lawfully
excluded from the state's lawsuit
because they are shielded by attorney-
client privilege, which protects discus-
sions between an attorney and his client.
Once Radford makes a determina-
tion, he then must decide whether the
activity discussed in the memos is
criminal or fraudulent in nature. If so,
he may allow the memos to be admit-
ted as evidence because they meet 0
"crime-fraud" exception to attorney-
client privilege.
Motley calls the memos the 'sicing"
on the state's attempt to prove the
industry lied to consumers.
Mississippi, the first state to take the
industry to court, settled its lawsuit
July 3 for nearly $3.6 billion, or I per-


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