It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'm not thinking about pink ribbons. You know what I'm thinking about?
Superfund sites. These are the approximately 1500 most hazardous toxic waste sites in the country, as classified by the EPA.
I grew up on Cape Cod, about 5 miles from one - the Otis Airforce Base, and about 45 miles from another - New Bedford. The New Bedford site is Massachusetts' TOP priority toxic waste site, identified as a priority for clean up when I was four years old. The site has one of the largest concentrations of PCBs in the nation. Otis Airforce Base is the 13th most polluted site in Massachusetts. The EPA put this site on their list when I was 10 years old. It's contaminated with carcinogenic VOCs, formaldehyde, and DDT, among others.
Eleven out of fifteen towns on Cape Cod have a breast cancer rate at least 15% higher than the rest of the state, and the Silent Spring Institute's research shows that the longer a woman lives on Cape Cod, the more at risk she is for breast cancer. I was in utero on the Cape, raised on the Cape, and spent 23 years there. I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years later at the age of 30. Coincidence? We'll never really know, will we?