Posted by: Green Knight | December 3, 2011

An Apple A Day

brings Dr. Oz into the fray, hey hey!  “As American as apple pie.”  etc.

So, now there’s a big hoo-ha about arsenic in apple juice.  At least it’s a diversion from the annual panic about lead in kids’ costume jewelry.  It amazes me that the public has such a short attention-span that they have to rediscover that one every damn year.  But at least this one has some novelty value.

Back in the ’80s, people were worried about apples that were being sprayed with Alar, which is pretty much nontoxic unless you cook or otherwise heat apple products to make or process stuff like applesauce or microwaveable oatmeal, etc., where the Alar breaks down to form UDMH, or undifferentiated methyl hydrazine, a reactive ingredient of rocket fuel.  Remember a past post where I said that methyl anything is a lot worse than ethyl anything?  Now it’s this.  So where’s the arsenic coming from (and why isn’t anyone mentioning that lead is along for the ride?)

Oh, big surprise, our friends in China again.  Those guys who retained “most-favored-nation” status all through the Tianenmen Square protests, because we think with our pocketbooks before we think about human rights, even though they were toting around a copy of the Statue of Liberty.  We mine, smelt, and refine most of the lead in the world, and send a lot of it there, and they send it back to us in kid’s jewelry, as paint on kid’s toys, etc., and we’re SURPRISED?  Ummm, DUH.

This is what you get when you opt for free trade instead of fair trade.  NAFTA.  GATT.  And all the rest of that crap.  To channel Mr. Rogers, “can you say GREED?”

When I became aware of the apple juice panic, I sat back and did some research.  Lead-poisoning is much more of a hazard to our next generation than any other environmental factor, and the agencies keep talking about lowering the exposure limits while they haven’t been able to get us even close to the current goals under existing programs, mostly due to lack of funding (“I don’t wanna pay for someone ELSE’s kid to have a higher IQ, but I want MINE to be protected,” etc.).  Lowering the existing numbers gives people a false sense of security.  They think they’re safer, because acceptable levels of contaminants have dropped.  Well, if there isn’t funding for inspections to enforce the newer, more stringent standards, then the new numbers are just PLACEBO LEGISLATION.  And, as agencies go that are involved in the whole lead thing, I can tip my hat to OSHA and EPA, but I hate HUD with a passion.  They don’t even follow their OWN “guidelines” on many of their own projects, the ones they have oversight on.  “We got this many done this year!”  Yeah, but you only got about 3% (just my educated guess) done RIGHT.

Why am I talking so much about lead, while arsenic is the main topic?  Because the pesticide being used that’s causing all the commotion is lead arsenate.  That’s right, lead AND arsenic, all in the same compound, and both way bad for Junior.  PbHAsO4 is very nasty stuff, and was banned by EPA on August 1, 1988, due to residues remaning on and soaking into fruits and veggies.  Everybody breathed a hearty sigh of relief, right?

Except for the “circle of poison.”  Just because something can’t be used here doesn’t always mean it can’t be manufactured and stored here for shipment to places where it’s legal to be used (so that the factory next door could explode if they don’t follow safety precautions, and dust the whole neighborhood with it), and it comes right back to us on products like produce, or just like the lead on kid’s toys.  Free trade, right?  Think about this: EPA considers arsenic to be ten times more toxic than lead, in their hazardous waste standards under RCRA.  They dropped the drinking water standards from 50 parts per billion in 1975 to 10 ppb in 2001.  We have an election coming up, and Newt doesn’t want to just cut the EPA’s budget, as has been happening, deleteriously to the safety of the citizenry and my job status, for many years, but advocates eliminating EPA altogether.  Does that make you feel safer?

What planet do YOU want to live on?

(oh, P.S., apple seeds contain cyanide naturally;  so do apricot pits and other fruit seeds .  Johnny Appleseed never told you that, did he?  He was too busy planting trees so people could have hard cider in wintertime.  Do you eat the cores and chew the seeds?  Nah, horses do that.  But does the machinery separate out the seeds when they make apple juice or sauce or whatever else?  Nah.  As I’ve said in the past, and Paracelsus said way before my time, “the dose is the poison.”  It all depends on how much you get over how long a time.  Does this mean you should avoid apple products?  Nah, I’m about to munch one right now.  But if it were ME – who has no kids that I’m aware of – but if I did, I wouldn’t panic about this, folks.  I’d just try to pull the chain on my legislators to get better inspections on incoming produce, toys, or whatever, from overseas.  It’s your life, it’s your world.  Protect it or not.

[this is a lovely beverage from Utah that we used to stock up on for ski trips. can’t get it here in St. Louis, sad to say. the label on the right is the can we used to get all the time.]


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