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Toxic Sock (From I. B. BARRY, Provincial High School of Kaya)

Like a monster reawakened, chemical pollution is frightening people once more. In 1962, Rachel Carson, an American environmentalist, drew the world’s attention to the dangers existing in man-made chemicals. The fear was that chemical pesticides were killing-wild life and giving people cancer. Since then, governments in rich countries have restricted or banned a large number of suspect substances, including DDT, PCBS and so on.

The new scares come from two sources. The first is a theory-increasingly popular in rich countries – that such chemicals are destroying the productive systems of man and several other animals. Studies have shown dramatic falls in human sperm counts, and rises in testicular cancer. Animals exposed to the chemicals have been doing strange things: female birds have been discovered nesting together, and alligators have grown abnormally little penises.

It is believed that these curiosities have been caused by a number of artificial chemicals that limitate sex hormones, thus confusing the natural process of sexual developments.

The other source of worry comes from the developing world where the fast – growing use of industrial chemicals is often uncontrolled by environmental regulations common in rich countries. Under the guidance of the United Nation Environment Programmed, a number of treaties are now being negotiated to regulate the trade of dangerous chemicals.

International treaties are needed because chemicals do not respect frontiers. Some substances that have been banned in rich countries are still showing up in animals and people there.

Though some chemicals remain in long use after their manufacture is prohibited, it may well be that these substances are being carried outside countries where they are produced. And also, potentially dangerous chemicals such as PCBS disperse easily hot atmosphere and thus travel long distances until they reach colder climates where they come down and persist.


To nest : nider
DDT : Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane
PBS : Polychlorinated Biphenils


GUIDED COMMENTARY : Answer the following questions.

1 – What does the first worry relative to chemicals consist in? (3 pts)
2 – Explain through examples how chemicals can change the natural development of things. (3 pts)
3 – Despite international treaties, some chemicals banned in rich countries are carried outside. Why is that possible? (4 pts)
4 – How is it possible to prevent the effect of chemicals? (4 pts)
5 – Are you for or against the manufacturing of chemical weapons in the world? (6 pts)
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