Essay on Living Downstream By Sandra Steingraber

1549 Words Nov 11th, 2015 7 Pages
In her book Living Downstream, Sandra Steingraber blends her narrative writing style with scientific research and data to provide an accessible account of the cancer epidemic in the United States and its link to the environment. It is Steingraber’s belief that it is essential for human beings to not only question, but also understand how a lifetime of incremental exposures to chemicals like DDT, PCBs, and atrazine increase an individual’s risks of developing cancer at some point in their life. Throughout the course of the book Steingraber balances her personal experience growing up in rural Tazwell County Illinois, her diagnosis with bladder cancer in her early twenties, and how her environmental exposure to certain industrial and agricultural chemicals are connected to cell mutations which led to her cancer. More importantly, she explores this environmental association with the majority of cancer diagnoses in the world today.
Steingraber sets out expose how past and ongoing contamination of areas with heavy industrial and agricultural ties like Illinois are linked to increased incidence of cancer. In order to examine this relationship, Steingraber also argues that Silent Spring by Rachel Carson published in 1962 brought these concerns to the forefront, though the evidence presented was still largely ignored. More than 50 years ago Carson stated, “I do contend we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals indiscriminately into the hands of persons wholly ignorant…

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