C4EP: Citizens for Environmental Protection
A Grassroots Group Dedicated to an Organic, Natural and Sustainable Environment
Citizens for Environmental Protection is a grassroots group located in Southern Michigan and dedicated to the support of the organic gardening and farming movement, human health and safety, and environmental quality.

If you have been the victim of chemical tresspass, you may wish to go to the violation report page and document it. If you are ill, seek immediate medical care. Your life may depend on it!


Files/information that may be helpful to you:
Sign InView Entries
The Story of a Pesticide Poisoning

It was 1979. She was outdoors, and had just finished weeding her vegetable garden. She and her husband and their children lived on a homestead in rural Michigan. Their small son was sleeping in his portable child bed. He looked so peaceful. She put a mosquito net over the bed. She left him in view, about 150' away and walked to the Southern edge of the homestead to weed a flower garden. She squatted down, weeding the baby's breath, marigolds and zinnias, when a black butterfly toppled downwards and dropped dead in front of her. There was no shimmer in the wings. Then she felt liquid on her arms and face. A tractor was coming up to the border of her land, and the wind had blown spray drift onto her. Immediately, she rushed over to her sleeping child, threw the blanket over his face and ran into the house. The baby was upset and crying as she lifted the blanket off of him, but she didn't want to touch him with the poison on her. She quickly stripped and got into the shower. She tried to scrub the chemicals off of her. Her eyes burned and the nausea overcame her. She went to the toilet to vomit and also became aware that she was bleeding. She was pregnant and there was blood coming from her. She was vomiting, bleeding, contractions and intense pain, and had liquid stools coming from her all at once. Her head spun and she thought she would die. Her only thought was to somehow contact her husband who was doing carpentry away from home so that he could care for their child if she should die. She called the company he was working for. They could not get him on the phone but told her where he was.
She tried to clean herself up. She got her child and put him in the car. She started to drive. He was ten miles away. On route, she had to stop the car twice when she started to black out. Finally she got to where he was working. He left work, driving to their Doctor. The Doctor gave her a shot to calm the contractions. He told her to go home and to take it easy, to put her legs up and to rest. He said by tomorrow she would know if she would lose the baby or not.
She lay on the couch. The tears fell bitterly down her face, the salt stung. She asked her husband to bathe their son. She hoped that the spray had not reached him. She seemed to outrun it, but she did not know. She was thankful she had not brought him to the flower garden or he would have been caught in the spray drift also. He probably would have died. She thought she might die. She lost her appetite, and lost consciousness. When she awoke, there was a terrible feeling in her womb. It felt like death. It smelled like death. There was drainage and she went to the bathroom.
The next day amid dull pain, the baby came out. What a beautiful perfect little child, but its leg was torn off. She didn't know if the poison itself had done that or the violence of the contractions created by the pesticide had separated the leg from the perfect little body. The child was about three inches long, and already she could see its little features. She wished she could put the child back inside her and make it come to life, whole and happy. She went back to the Doctor. She asked him if he could tell by the baby what chemical they used. He said she and her husband were not rich enough to be able to pay for the lab work. He said those types of cases were hard to prove. He said she was young and could have more children, and that it was best to try just to forget it and try again. She felt like the Doctor didn't understand the enormity of what had just happened. That child was unique in the entire world. That life would never come again. Whatever promise that soul had, whatever meaning that miracle of life held within her, it was destroyed forever. She hoped there was truly a God in Heaven, and that a loving God held her beautiful child in His arms.
She felt ill after that. She had pain and felt tired. She never regained her former energy and health, but caught illnesses and needed more sleep. A year later, she found she was pregnant again. She went to the Doctor and after examination, the Doctor said she would need to see a specialist. She believed the young woman had cancer.
The specialist confirmed the cancer diagnosis. She told the Doctor that she did not want any treatment if it would hurt the baby. He told her without treatment she would lose the child. He did biopsy and Cryosurgery on the cancer cells outside the womb. The child was born later. Unlike her previous two children, born healthy and crying, this child was born blue and was not breathing. In a frenzy of prayers, tears and fear, the child began to breathe. This child, her miracle, was the only child that would have a learning disability. Dyslexia. After giving birth, the woman felt increasingly insecure and the couple's marriage disintegrated. She wanted her husband to seek justice for what had happened. She tried to find out what chemical the farmer had used, and to try to get them to stop spraying chemicals so close to their home. The farmer and his family threatened her in retaliation for her request. They said she must have got an abortion on her own and tried to blame it on them, and that if she kept it up she would be sorry.
She tried to get an attorney. They told her she did not have the money and they did not have the time. They told her that she would not win a lawsuit because she lived in an agricultural community.
The woman ended up doing her own lawsuit in pro per. She studied the University of Michigan's environmental law course in the court's law library and was assisted by a helpful legal aid attorney in court procedures and Michigan laws. CEP assisted her with support and courtroom testimony about the hazardous nature of pesticides (John Clark, PhD). The court clerks were also helpful in providing her with forms and legal papers. Eventually, five years after the miscarriage, she found out what the farmer had used the day she and her unborn child were the victim of spray drift. He had used Monsanto's Lasso, which contained 2,4,5-T, a Vietnam war chemical. In 1979, the same year that she was poisoned, a whole town of women miscarried the same day in Corvallis, Oregon. The town was spray drifted with the same chemical. After that, the chemical was banned from most uses. It had done the same thing to women in Vietnam. Why did they ever use it? Why did they use it in the US....knowing what it did???? She read The Poisoning of America by Ralph Nadar and On the Trail of a Pesticide by Mary O'Brien, PhD. and researched chemicals with resources like NCAMP, the Sierra Club, the Rachel Carson Council, the Scientific American, etc. She read the book later, Waiting for an Army to Die about the Vietnam Veterans, their wives, and children who suffered horribly from the aftermath of herbicides that the government knew were toxic yet did little to protect the young men who were willing to die in patriotic duty in the chemical warfare used to defoliate large tracts of land in Vietnam for a government that just didn't seem to care and a country that seemed to turn their back on injured vets.
She could not find consolation in just trying to forget about the loss of her health and her child. She did not sue for money. She felt there was no price on life. No amount of money could bring back the child she had wanted so much.  She brought the issue to the attention of the court to receive an injunction. She asked that the court uphold the law which forbade chemical trespass. She feared for the life and health of her other children who were young and vulnerable.
Through the years of court, she suffered more. Chemical companies and a succession of irate farmers targeted her. They sprayed and even dumped chemicals on her car. One farmer smashed her camera and threw her into a ditch. When she called the police on him, they went to investigate and the farmer took a swing at a cop. The farmer was jailed. She was paid $15 for the loss of her camera, which is what she paid for it second hand. The worst offense was that the farmer had gunned his spray rig when he saw her filming him. Her lungs felt like they were full of holes.
She never received the injunction she wanted. It would not have mattered anyway. The farmer sold his land off and retired to the city. The people that bought it do not live there. They sold off only the lot with the old country home, and they farmed the rest. Then as they acquired too much land to farm it all themselves, they rented out the land to anyone with money. They rented it out to a flower company. The plane spray drifted chemicals. Her horse died the next day. The year Monsanto rented it, her garden died. Her children are grown now. She never wanted to birth more children after the last one, fearful that her DNA was damaged. She suffered several reoccurrences of cancer. The Judge that would not give her an injunction and put a gag order on her, came down with prostrate cancer. He did however, tell her that he believed she had a right to seek justice, and he warned the farmer who sprayed 2,4,5-T on her not to hurt her again, and not to contact her. He said the farmer would be held in contempt of court if he continued to show such a blatant disregard for life. The Judge also expected the farmer to uphold his promise to maintain a safety zone between agricultural spray and her land and to plant a row of pine trees to buffer any spray drift. No trees were planted. The farmer who destroyed her camera was also told not to hurt or contact her again. The court felt that it was sexual harassment and intimidation. That farmer has not bothered her again. However, she has had to endure an endless stream of other farmers and agribusiness firms that continually spray and sometimes drift chemicals on to her land. She has taken them on one by one in a peaceful way to try to establish a safe place to live in rural America.
It is hard to be organic with neighbors like she has, and she stopped trying to market organic produce. She let most of her land go wild, and it is a wildlife refuge instead. She has seen her neighbors clear cut their forests. She has seen some lose their homes in foreclosure. She insists she will keep her homestead and continue to fight for justice. She has many good neighbors who are careful about how they apply chemicals. However, the farm to the south continues to this day to give her trouble. In 2009, she witnessed spay drift that hurt her eyes and lungs. She was working outdoors when she felt her eyes burning, and noticed all the mist in her back meadow. She found out that the current owner rented it out to an agribusiness firm who put potatoes in. Spraying twice a week, she wonders how long it will be until they kill her. She has filters for her water, trying to filter out any chemicals may go into her well. She saw how one day the potatoes were sprayed and on the next day harvested. She contacted the owners of the land telling them of her plight and of how the people that are renting the land are poisoning it. She contacted the agribusiness company. The manager told her that he was sorry and they would try to be more careful.
She wonders what her life would be like if she had not been the victim of spray drift and 2,4,5-T. She wonders what the child she lost would have grown up to be. In her heart there is a wound that has never healed. When the farmers and the agribusiness spray rigs put poison on the earth, the wound opens up and bleeds.
When food can be grown organically and was grown organically for thousands of years prior to the creation of toxic chemicals, why she wondered, would anyone choose to poison the earth and kill life?

"The Story of a Pesticide Poisoning" © 2009 C4EP webmaster

Horse dies, France faces reality of toxic beaches
Aug 28, 2009  4:04 PM EST
SAINT-MICHEL-EN-GREVE, France - It should have been a perfect day for Vincent Petit, finishing up an afternoon gallop on a wide expanse of beach along a pastel-colored bay. Instead, he and his mount were sucked into a hole of noxious black sludge.

The horse died within seconds, the rider lost consciousness and a dirty secret on the Brittany coast reverberated across France - decaying green algae was fouling some of its best beaches.

A report ordered by the government after the accident found concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas emitted by the rotting algae were as high as 1,000 parts per million on the beach where the horse died - an amount that "can be fatal in several minutes."

There had been signs of a crisis for years in this idyllic corner of Brittany. But scaring away tourists was in no one's interest, including the farming industry - the region's economic backbone - whose nitrate-packed fertilizers power algae blooms.

So, while tongues wagged, folks whispered and acrimony grew, an official hush prevailed. It took the death of the horse to bring the problem into the open.

Decaying ulva algae threatens other beaches around France and the world, from the United States to China, experts say. Last year, the Chinese government brought in the army to remove the slimy growths so the Olympic sailing competition could be held.

In Brittany's Cote d'Armor region, conditions are perfect for its spread - sunlight, shallow waters and flat beaches. Chemical and natural fertilizers like pig excrement, loaded with nitrates and phosphorous, have saturated the land, spilling into rivers and the ocean, feeding the algae that then proliferate.

Harmless while in water, the algae form dangerous gases - notably hydrogen sulfide, with its characteristic rotten-egg smell - when they wash up on land and decay. A white crust forms and traps the gases, which are released when stepped on or otherwise disturbed. Over time, putrefied algae turns sand into a black silt muck, sometimes containing pockets of poison gas.

On July 28, Petit, a 28-year-old researcher in a state-run virology lab, had just finished riding his thoroughbred Sir Glitter, a retired racehorse, on the Saint-Michel-en-Greves beach, when the two were suddenly mired in muck as he led the horse on foot in search of a place to cross a stream running through the sand.

"The horse and I slid in," said Petit, who is also trained in veterinary studies. "A horse in that situation is in an enormous panic, but he didn't have time to struggle."

Petit said he watched horrified as his horse stopped breathing and died within about 30 seconds, then he himself passed out. Petit was pulled from the mire by a bulldozer shovel after a man who witnessed the accident gave the alert.

While locals are aware of the perils posed by the silt traps that lurk under the sand around streams that feed from the beach into the ocean, Petit did not sense the danger until the ground gave way and he and his horse were sucked into the noxious ooze up to the man's chest.

Police initially ruled the horse suffocated, but an autopsy showed the animal died of an acute pulmonary edema with symptoms "compatible with gaseous intoxication in a brutal manner," Petit said, quoting the report, which he paid for.

There was no foreign matter in the horse's throat, lungs or stomach and no sign of a heart attack, he said.

There have been local efforts to clear the blight. Mayor Rene Ropartz said Saint-Michel-en-Greve, a village of 480 people, collected 10,000 tons of algae from the mile-long beach by the end of July; several years ago they cleaned up 21,000 tons.

"This bay is magnificent and, unfortunately, this tarnishes the image," said Ropartz, adding that the horse's death shows the role of the algae "is no longer in doubt" and spurred the government into action.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon visited Saint-Michel-en-Greve last week, pledging measures to control the algae by next spring.

The horse is only the latest victim of the algae's noxious fumes. A man was found dead on the same beach two decades ago, his arm sticking out from a pile of algae. Another man fell into a four-day coma after cleaning algae 10 years later. And last year, two dogs died while romping on an algae-covered beach 60 miles to the east.

At Grandville beach, where the dogs died, putrefying algae has turned the sand to blackened silt, spotted with green swampland and white crusty clumps of algae in decay. The stench of hydrogen sulfide hangs heavy in the area, where people occasionally show up to gawk at the ruined beach.

"Once you could swim here. Now, it's no longer a beach, it's a garbage dump," said Andre Ollivro, a founder of Halt the Green Tide, one of several ecology groups that has warned of the algae peril as bad blood built with farmers.

After the dogs died, scientists at CEVA, a state-run institute that tracks algae in France, began protecting themselves with hand-held instruments to measure hydrogen sulfide, said agency official Sylvain Ballu.

Ballu said he found 500 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide in the area where the dogs died.

Solving the problem will take far more than cleaning algae from beaches.

Water in the affected region currently measures 32-33 milligrams per liter of nitrate - compared to a normal level of 5 milligrams, said Alain Menesguen, a biologist with the French Institute for Exploitation of the Sea. Some rivers reach 60-70 milligrams and the ground water in some areas reaches 100 milligrams, he said.

"We've reached saturation," he said. Returning to normal levels will require huge changes in the agricultural sector without seeing any immediate drop in the algae mass.

"This is very difficult for farmers and politicians to accept," Menesguen said.

Solange Le Guen, who raises 80 cows on a farm planted with corn, wheat and other crops in the hills behind Saint-Michel-en-Greve, says farmers aren't the only ones to blame.

Fault also lies with water purification plants located too close to the ocean, she said. She conceded, when pressed, that "people have abused" fertilizers. "We were badly advised," she said.

For Petit, it comes down to assuring some good comes from the tragedy and his scrape with death.

"I'm trying to do everything so that my horse didn't die for nothing, that this won't just end as a simple accident," he said. "It could have been worse, for me."

By ELAINE GANLEY     Associated Press Writer   
Recommended reading:

Waiting for an Army to Die

The Poisoning of America

On the Trail of a Pesticide

Silent Spring
Tragic events of the earthquakes, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear melt down in Japan include the suicide of an organic farmer near Tokyo. He realized his organic soil was forever ruined. Nuclear fallout is one more serious threat that must be addressed in the US also.

A good website for nuclear info is Beyond Nuclear.org