Irish Examiner - 17/01/06
IN 1900 the cancer rate was one in 80. Today the figure is an alarming one in three.
This appalling statistic represents an epidemic of frightening proportions. What family has not been affected by cancer?
If this current statistic seems frightening, world renowned cancer expert Dr Samuel Epstein, chairman of the US-based Cancer Prevention Coalition, believes we are heading rapidly towards a future where cancer will become a universal phenomenon.
This he believes will happen within two decades unless we do something now to prevent it.
Prevention must be the mantra in our fight against cancer. It is Dr Epstein's expert opinion that cancer and other illnesses are a product of our rapidly deteriorating environment and ever escalating levels of industrial pollution.
In Ireland there is no State body willing to take responsibility for our health. This particularly applies in planning matters.
The proposed Ringaskiddy incinerator is a chilling example of this in planning terms. An Bórd Pleanála is precluded from considering matters relating to human health arising from the 'normal' operations of such a development.
The EPA, when presented with expert international opinion on the likely health effects of the operation of an incinerator, chose to ignore the information, even though the company proposing to build it did not contest this information.
The Government has chosen to disregard its own commissioned Health Research Bureau report from 2003, which found that Ireland does not have the health expertise/infrastructure to assess the effects of incineration.
This report, coincidentally, is no longer in print.
One would think the Department of Health would have something to say on incineration. I'm afraid not.
This begs the question: who is responsible for our health? The simple answer is, we are. We are on our own.
Our Government shows no interest in anything other than economic indicators.
What about a clean environment, good health, a functioning society, the so-called quality of life issues?
In five years the economy may still be roaring but will this still be a country worth living in?
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment