United States
                Environmental Protection
                Office of
                Public Awareness (A-107)
                Washington DC 20460
December 1980
OPA 139/0
Consider  the Connections


Introduction: "Considering The Connections"
Since the fundamental components of the
environment—land, air and water—are the
basis of all life and of all human activity,
protection of the environment bears heavily
on virtually all the other human activities
which traditionally we have considered
separately.  For the greater part of human
history, populations have been small and
the scope of our technology limited. Hence,
the failure to relate quality of the environ-
ment and such matters as economics,
energy, transportation, and urban growth
did not necessarily lead to disastrous
consequences. Today, this is no longer true.
The pressures of human populations and
the helter-skelter application of technology
are quite capable of severely altering the
life supporting capacities of ecological
systems. This means, quite simply, that the
people of this planet must consider the
connections, or perish.
  Natural systems are bound together in
complicated ways. Waters flow from one
body to another and the air knows no
boundaries. Chemical compounds, both
those known to nature and those created in
recent decades outside the time-tested
boundaries of nature, move up and down
through food chains, permeating
ecosystems and affecting both plants and
animals, including human beings, in
unanticipated ways. Through the recently
recognized phenomenon of acid rain, air
pollution adversely affects water and
aquatic life hundreds of miles removed
from the sources themselves. Fertilizers,
pesticides and other chemical substances
applied to the land wash into surface
waters and sink into groundwaters.
Hazardous wastes dumped on the land
contaminate groundwater supplies with
substances that do not degrade and will
maintain their potential hazards far, far
longer than any human civilization has
  A clearer view of the connections
between environmental protection and our
contemporary way of life would help us
avoid or diminish the unanticipated by-
product problems which have accompanied
the ways we have used science and tech-
nology in the past. It would help us learn to
satisfy our basic needs for food, clothing,
sanitation and shelter through the optimum
use of resources without paying an unfore-
seen cost in pollution and other forms of
environmental degradation which threaten
our health and well-being.
  In this country we are much farther down
the road toward environmental responsibil-
ity than we were a decade ago. The
environmental legislation created or
drastically amended in the last decade
indicates that our society realizes that
environmental goals cannot be achieved by
pollution control alone, but must rely
instead on foresighted environmental
policies. We have already lessened the
gross impacts of air and water pollution.
Even more importantly, on the firm founda-
tion of the National Environmental Policy
Act of 1969, we have begun at last to look
before we leap. We no longer build bridges,
power plants, airports or dams without first
considering the environmental conse-
quences. Our society has begun to consider
the connections—a tendency which we
must intensify and expand until we make a
habit of taking appropriate account of eco-
logical considerations in our pursuit of
critical national and international goals.
  This booklet has been prepared to help
you consider the connections between your
activities and decisions and those land, air
and water systems that support your
economic and physical well being.


The Environment and Health
Too often, when we hear the word
"environment" we think it's "out there,"
that we are separate from it. In reality,
however, we are associated with the
environment in numerous complex ways.
The human body is about 60 percent water,
adults breathe a minimum of 12,000 quarts
of air every 24 hours, and in many less
obvious ways we are clearly creatures of
this planet. As our physical  and social
environment changes, the physical and
chemical make-up of our bodies is altered.
As we consume air, water and food, our
bodies absorb and react to their contents.
Noise and radiation also affect us. The
breakdown of ecological systems mirrors
our own destiny: as land, air, water and
living creatures are affected by environ-
mental mismanagement, our lives are
  The most important objective of
environmental protection is the prevention
of disease and death. When we overload
natural systems with pollutants and cause
illness and death through acute air pollu-
tion episodes  or cause massive fish kills
and threaten drinking water supplies, the
relationship between cause and effect is
easy to see and understand. But in the last
decade we have become acutely aware of
the fact that environmentally-caused death
and disease can occur under much less
dramatic and obvious circumstances.
Moreover, since World War II our tech-
nological skill has introduced into the world
new substances which are utterly alien to
the natural processes of the earth. We no
longer derive the chemicals we use from
naturally occurring materials only—plants,
animals, and minerals which evolved in the
same environment in which people have
always lived. Through three million years of
trial and error we have learned which of
these substances were edible, which were
useful and which were dangerous. In the
chemical revolution of the last 40 years or
so, however, we have created about five
million synthetic compounds—three million
since 1971 alone. About 65,000 are in
commercial distribution. Most serve us
well, but some pose a serious threat when
used improperly, or when they enter the
environment in ways that were not
intended or anticipated. Some are dan-
gerous in quantities so small that they can
be detected only with sophisticated instru-
ments capable of detecting chemicals
present in  parts-per-billion or even parts-
per-trillion amounts. Some cause health
problems many years after exposure. They
provide the coup de grace to the obsolete
view that land, air and water have an
almost unlimited capacity to absorb pollu-
tion. Neither our bodies nor the natural
environment can safely process the
quantities and varieties of pollutants
produced today.
  Health effects related to the environ-
ment are not limited to such well-known
and serious ailments as cancer,
neurological damage, or heart and lung
diseases. Environmental pollution also
diminishes well-being, lowers human
vitality, contributes to lost work time and
aggravates chronic illnesses.
  The economic benefits of environmental
protection are many and varied. The higher
the degree of protection, the greater the
opportunity for individuals and their
families to lead full and productive lives.
Society benefits from greater productivity
among workers and from lowered public
health costs. The prevention of environ-
mentally-related diseases is^ipt free. But
compared to the costs of the illnesses and
deaths that protection efforts allow us to
diminish or avoid, the price  is surely small.

The Environment and the Economy
A climate of fluctuating tensions between
environmental and economic goals—each
vital to a successful society—characterize
the current era of transition, with its
changing values and new views of "costs"
and "benefits." The democratic processes
of our open society have in recent decades
stimulated a widespread public
involvement in the day-to-day actions of
business. This involvement occurs both
directly and indirectly—through group
pressures, legislation at all  levels of
government and formal regulations. Some
of it is the  result of the increasing demand
for environmental protection which itself is
a direct result of increased public
understanding, concern, and involvement.
  Nevertheless, we are only beginning to
acknowledge the extremely high level of
interdependence which exists between
what is regarded as a good environment
and what is regarded as a good economy.
Economic activity and the prosperity it
engenders depend on the availability of
natural resources and on clean air, good
water and usable land. The mismanage-
ment or pollution of these resources sooner
or later leads to the diminishment of
economic activity. Industries of all kinds, as
well as people, depend on clear air and
unpolluted surface and ground water
resources, on usable farm land with good
top soil. Air and water pollution, oil spills,
mismanaged hazardous wastes, improper
sewage treatment, and a host of other
environmental problems threaten our
economy as well as our health.
  Most people no longer consider it sound
business practice to maximize the produc-
tion of goods no matter what the costs to
the environment. But we have not yet
discarded all the evidence of our mistaken
views of the past. Our Gross National
Product (GNP), for instance, can be very
misleading in that it still reflects the old
view which includes the market value of
products regardless of adverse effects upon
health or the environment. Indeed,
protection of the environment receives little
or no value in this calculation. The costs of
illnesses related in many instances to
pollution are, ironically, assigned positive
values in the GNP. A more precise evalua-
tion of what the Nation produces would not
suggest that it is economically beneficial to
expose people to carcinogenic substances.
  A more precise measurement of our total
economic welfare would indicate that
environmental quality means fewer
illnesses, greater worker productivity, more
purchasing power available for nonmedical
goods and services, and greater efficiency
in industrial operations.
  The recreational values of good air, land
and water are also economic values.
Millions of Americans provide services to
those seeking outdoor recreation—fishing
and sightseeing, swimming and hiking—all
of which are enhanced by a good environ-
ment. As opportunities increase, the
benefits of these activities will increase as
well. Often, in some of the Nation's most
economically depressed areas, the
recreational needs of congested
metropolitan centers can be partially met by
reclaimed waterfronts and urban lakes,
landfills recycled as parks and play-
grounds, and effective transportation

  Particularly since the beginning of the
past decade, the public's concern about and
involvement in environmental issues have
altered the outlook of business and
industrial leaders. Increasingly, while they
continue to seek opportunities for
expansion and innovation, industrialists
also show concern for the hidden, as well
as the obvious, costs of many of their
products. There is a growing recognition of
the connection among energy costs, the
desirability of recycling and conservation
and the usefulness of new technologies
and practices which obviate or stringently
curtail the emission of pollutants, most of
which are after all, resources out of place.
The goal of flourishing industries drawing
wisely on America's abundant resources is
one that is increasingly shared by environ-
mentalists, business people, government
officials, and the public.

The Environment and Labor
All the members of our society have paid,
and are still paying, for the fact that we
failed to give adequate attention to environ-
mental issues until recent decades. But
none has paid as high a price as workers,
particularly in heavily industrialized parts of
the country. Workers have often been in
double jeopardy in that they are exposed to
high levels of contaminants in the
workplace and return home to communities
often polluted by those same contaminants.
Indeed, much of the early scientific concern
about the health effects of community air
pollution was derived from work done on
the exposure of workers to the same
pollutants in the workplace. Even though
major improvements have been brought
about in both the workplace and the
community environment, the importance of
the relationship between the two has not
diminished. Hence, the high level of
cooperation between the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupa-
tional Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) in carrying out their respective
research and regulatory responsibilities.
  Workers and labor unions have been
strong supporters of environmental legisla-
tion,  not only recently, but in the 1950's
and 1960's as well. Their support has been
crucial to the development of the environ-
mental laws which now exist for the protec-
tion of all of us at all levels of government.
Workers were among the first to note that
pollution threatened to turn cities into
economic wastelands; that major bodies of
water essential for drinking supplies,
productive as fisheries and needed by
industry and agriculture were gradually
being rendered unusable by human and
industrial waste. They were among the first
to note that exposure to toxic substances
was threatening to drain billions of dollars
from productive economic growth into
welfare and medical expenses.
  Labor's support has continued despite
the fact that in a few cases pollution control
requirements have caused genuine
hardships to workers and their com-
munities. Nationwide, between 1971 and
1977, 128 plants employing 23,737
workers were closed. According to plant
owners, the closings were due, at least in
part, to pollution control requirements. It is
noteworthy, however, that in most coases
these were antiquated, marginally
economic plants which very likely could not
have been operated much  longer, in any
  The Federal Government works with
State and local officials and with workers
and managers toward the end of keeping
plants open and people working wherever
and whenever possible.
  Moreover, environmental protection
measures have resulted in the employment
of hundreds of thousands of workers.
Municipal sewage treatment plant
construction, for example, has created
140,000 jobs in a four billion dollar a year
building program. Tens of thousands of
workers are employed in building,
operating and maintaining pollution control
equipment throughout the country.

The Urban—Rural Connection
We are not protected from the adverse
affects of environmental mismanagement
by virtue of where we live. The city and the
countryside are connected in numerous
complex ways and the problems of one
easily shift to the other. Air and water do
not respect political boundaries or the
distinction between rural and urban areas.
Since nearly everyone is downstream or
downwind from someone else, when
natural resources become polluted, both
the rural dweller and the city dweller are
  Air pollution from the automobile, from
utility plants and from industrial complexes
is not restricted to urban areas but is also
carried hundreds of miles into the rural
countryside, even into other countries.
  Rural areas also cannot escape other
problems of pollution generated by our
highly urban and industrialized society. For
example: as land suitable for disposal of
solid and hazardous wastes becomes
increasingly difficult to locate within
metropolitan jurisdictions, cities and
industries look to rural counties for
  The movement of pollutants between city
and country is not all one way, of course.
Sediment erosion from croplands is today
the single most prevalent pollutant of
surface waters. Along with the sediment
comes the bacteria of animal wastes,
residues of toxic pesticides, and algae-
producing nutrients, all moving into the
rivers, lakes and reservoirs upon which
many urban centers of the Nation depend
for drinking water and recreation.
  Cleaning up and controlling the many
sources of pollution is a national goal in the
full sense of the term. Both urban and rural
communities profit from clean air, clean
water, the safe disposal of wastes and
intelligent resource and land management.
What happens to the environment, whether
urban or rural, ultimately connects us all.

The Environment and Agriculture

America's productive farmland is one of our
most valuable natural resources, and a
critical element in our foreign balance of
payments. An effective environmental
protection program helps insure the
continued value of this resource, for well-
managed land, clean water and clean air all
contribute to the quality and quantity of
agricultural products.
  Numerous vital connections exist
between water quality and agriculture.
Suitable water is needed for the irrigation
of crops and for livestock. Farm families
commonly rely upon wells for safe drinking
water.  Rural ponds and lakes provide
recreational opportunities such as swim-
ming and fishing. Maintenance of water
supplies suitable for many uses, including
those of agriculture, is a major objective of
State and Federal water pollution control
  Pollution control  measures are essential
because agricultural runoff seriously
affects water quality in two-thirds of our
river basins. Important water supplies—
the Lower Colorado, for example—have
been polluted by salts washed out of the
soil through irrigation.
  Runoff also accounts for over half of the
Nation's man-made sediment load. An
estimated 1.8 billion tons of topsoil from
agricultural croplands are eroded into
America's streams, lakes and waterways

each year. Attached to the soil particles
reaching the water are insecticides, weed
killers, fungicides, nitrates and phosphates
from fertilizers, and the bacteria of animal
wastes from barnyards and animal feedlots.
Excessive sediment in water is detrimental
to fish populations. The United States pays
one half billion dollars annually to remove
sediment (both natural and man-made)
from waterways. We pay still more to clean
up drinking water supplies.
  Protecting rivers and streams from
sediment also contributes to maintaining
topsoils on the land. Farmers are losing
precious soils at a rate faster than that of
the "dustbowl" days of the depression.
Since 1935, agricultural practices have so
severely damaged farmland that one
hundred million acres of land can no longer
be cultivated and over half the topsoil on yet
another hundred million acres has been
lost. Natural processes replenish some of
this topsoil, but not nearly fast enough and
not on a uniform basis.
  Farmers must also be concerned about
air pollution. Current research indicates
that air pollution may adversely affect plant
growth and reduce production, particularly
near large urban centers. A more recently
recognized problem is posed by acid rain,
which is formed when nitric oxides and
sulfur oxides, produced by burning fossil
fuels, increase the acidity of precipitation.
Because air pollution is carried hundreds of
miles, acid rain may harm crops far distant
from pollution sources.
  Excessive or improper use of pesticides
can pose a problem not only to water
quality, but to crops and even to farmers
themselves. Long  term use of pesticides
often leads to the development of resistant
strains of pests for which alternative
pesticide chemicals are not always
available. Natural  predators of pests often
are unwittingly destroyed by  the use of
pesticides and once  secondary pests then
become primary, moving unchecked
through crops.
  Improperly applied, pesticides have
poisoned farmers  during the process of
spraying, and have seriously affected the
health of some farmworkers and their
families, as well as nearby residents. When
improperly sprayed near waterways
pesticides can affect drinking water
supplies and kill fish and other wildlife.
New management practices to control
pests, together with greater care in the use
of pesticides by trained applicators, will
help protect against some of these
  Between 1967 and 1977 urban sprawl
replaced nearly 17 million acres of farm-
land with residential, industrial and
shopping center developments. Loss of
farmland means a smaller base for food and
fiber production as well as the loss of
needed environmental benefits. Addi-
tionally, urban sprawl increases energy
cost. Food must be transported greater
distances, and food production may be
forced to less suitable and more erosive
land. The current drive for massive
energy development and expanded mining
of fossil fuels threatens new diversions from
the agricultural use of land and water.
  The multiple factors that affect food and
fiber agricultural production, so vital to
public welfare and the national economy,
illustrate in a compelling way the
connections that link agriculture and
environmental issues.

The Environment and Transportation
The evolution of our country's
transportation systems presents a
compelling demonstration of the connec-
tions between the uses of technology,
social patterns and the environment. Our
choices in past decades among the modes
of moving people and goods were largely
dictated by available technology, employed
without regard to the impact upon land, air,
water or energy resources.
  Looking back in time it is easy to see that
we did not anticipate the far reaching
consequences of these choices. The auto-
mobile is an apt example. In this century,
we have not merely accepted, we have
embraced the automobile as the favorite
form of personal transportation. But, until
very recently, we gave no consideration
whatsoever to the questions of how, when
or where to best employ it. The social,
cultural and environmental consequences
of this national decision, for good and for ill,
are far greater than anyone had foreseen.
  Suburban sprawl, with its many environ-
mental consequences discussed elsewhere
in this booklet, is the creation of the
automobile. This in turn soon diminished
the utility and economic viability of mass
transit systems. The resultant dependence
of commuters upon their cars created the
expressways which altered many urban
neighborhoods and, of course, attracted
even more cars to congested downtown
streets. It is only in recent years that we
have begun to face the fact that we must
plan our communities for people as well as
for motor vehicles.
  While automobiles became the "common
carrier" for people, truck lines claimed an
increasing share of freight tonnage
between cities across the country. Con-
struction of a national network of inter-
state highways accelerated the movement
of all kinds of vehicular traffic. The awaken-
ing of America's environmental
consciousness at the beginning of the past
decade has led us to reassess national
policies affecting transportation, land use,
patterns of development, and the impact of
all these upon the environment. While we
cannot undo the decisions of the past, we
can minimize their effects.
  Emission limitations on cars, trucks, air-
planes, and other means of transport have
helped check the steady deterioration of the
air. In some areas, air quality has been
improved significantly. Stricter controls due
to go into effect later in the 1980's should
further improve air quality.
  In areas that cannot meet air quality
standards because of pollution caused by
motor vehicles, State and local govern-
ments are obliged to establish plans which
encourage the use of alternative transpor-
tation systems and other means of reducing
automobile mileage. The need to lessen our
dependence on imported oil has reinforced
the movement toward more energy

efficient cars and trucks and the develop-
ment of other forms of transportation.
  The construction or improvement of
subway and rapid rail systems and other
forms of mass transit now receives
increased Federal support. Preservation of
a national rail network is accepted national
policy. The expanded use of waterways for
the movement of freight is also getting
more attention.
  Other problems associated with trans-
portation have begun to catch the public
eye, sometimes because of catastrophic
headlines. The movement of hazardous
chemical and radioactive materials
sometimes creates major threats to health
and the environment through accidents and
spills. The need to move oil long distances
has made our coastlines vulnerable to
tanker accidents.
  Air travel is not free of environmental
consequences, either. Steadily increasing
attention is being given to noise and air
pollution  problems, particularly in the
immediate vicinity of major airports.
  Belated though it may be, we are now
beginning to recognize the connections be-
tween how we travel and move materials
and the resulting impact upon the


The Environment and Energy
Basic laws of physics govern the trans-
formation of matter and the release of
energy. In utilizing nature's stored energy,
we change a balance of chemical and bio-
logical systems that has evolved over
billions of years. Human societies, brief as
their history has been, achieved a similar
balance in earlier eras when hunting,
fishing, and agriculture were the staples of
  People have been slow to understand
how these systems—some of them quite
vulnerable—have been weakened by
surging production and consumption of
energy in the contemporary world. But
there is now widespread recognition, if not
full knowledge, of these interworkings. A
broadly accepted goal is that energy needs
should be met without threats to environ-
mental systems. Otherwise, major social
disruption and economic and health
problems can occur.
  These problems are diverse. Facilities
can disrupt both the social and economic
stability of communities when air and noise
pollution result from development. Mining
and drilling for fossil fuels can contaminate
waters with pollutants. Radiation
associated with uranium mining can
threaten health. High dams for hydro-
electric power can destroy agriculturally
productive valleys, and drown entire
ecosystems. Fuel spills can spoil fishing
industries and tourism. In energy-poor
nations, foraging for wood and brush as an
essential fuel source causes untold human
misery as the desert expands into stripped
  New attitudes toward energy have taken
hold, largely due to these serious environ-
mental effects, potential threats to our
national security, and rapidly rising prices
for traditional fuels.
  The concept of "least-cost" energy,
which concentrates on providing
consumers with the benefits of energy—
heat, light, and mechanical motion—at the
least possible cost, is gaining adherents. To
provide energy's services at minimum cost
calls for new approaches, such as calculat-
ing the total energy and environmental
costs of products—their raw materials,
manufacturing processes, transportation
and marketing, and ultimate usage, even to
the recycling of certain materials, such as
aluminum, to save energy.
  Ultimately, energy conservation and
more diverse and smaller scale energy
sources will bring about profound changes
in how we cope with new demands for
energy. Technologies based on water
power, solar energy and biomass may
become commonplace, thus easing the
environmental pressures which accompany
the exploration for and production of
traditional fuels.
  When we connect energy use with
environmentally benign and renewable
sources, nature becomes a partner in
solving our energy problems, and we lower
the levels of tension and noise which have
characterized the energy-environment
  The challenge is to integrate energy
development and use, economic planning,
and environmental goals to assure fuller
awareness, closer connections, and sound,
timely public and private decisions on how,
when and where to apply a multiplicity of
energy resources.

Environment and Recreation

The link between environmental protec-
tion and recreation pursuits is easily per-
ceived, yet variously defined for the eye of
the beholder is ail important. For some,
primitive wilderness areas and sweeping
scenic vistas provide in greatest measure
the sense of renewal and fulfillment we
expect to draw from vacations and other
leisure-time activities. For others, a bicycle
trail, a children's playground, or a patch of
park in an inner city neighborhood may
offer the most rewarding recreational
return. Our tastes and opportunities may
differ, but we should share the recognition
that environmental degradation can, and
has, adversely affected a broad range of
recreational activities. We see streams and
lakes closed to fishing and swimming.
Noise is an intrusive neighbor in many
areas. Open vistas are obscured by air  pol-
lution. In some parts of the country, air
pollution is sometimes so severe that
children must be restricted in active play
and elderly people are urged to stay
  Air and water pollution control laws  give
special protection to the still clean air and
water of areas relatively untouched by
pollution. Without these controls the

environmental quality of our national parks,
forests, and wilderness areas would
eventually be degraded.
  But in urban as well as wilderness areas,
maintaining the quality of the environment
is a key element in enhancing recreational
opportunities that can enrich the human
spirit. Many communities also have found
that innovative environmental
improvement programs not only provide a
better life for local residents but also draw
visitors and tourists from other areas,
providing a solid economic return on the
investment in recreational development.
  There is growing recognition of the
recreational potential of America's urban
waterfronts: 70 percent of our 415 cities
having populations of 50,000 or more are
located on rivers, lakes or an ocean shore.
The recreational potential of these
locations includes not only water-oriented
activities such as boating, swimming, and
fishing, but also water-enhanced activities
such as picnic grounds, hiking paths, and
  The billions of tax dollars being invested
in the construction of wastewater
treatment plants also offer tremendous
potential for public recreation. Federal
planning grants now require the identifica-
tion of recreational and open space oppor-
tunities these projects may offer. Construc-
tion grants can include money for facilities
such as trails, bicycle paths, boat launches
and the like. Another Federal program
offers funds to help cities rehabilitate
deteriorated parks and to develop
innovative recreation programs.
  Parks and other green open spaces in our
cities not only provide recreational oppor-
tunities as varied as hiking trails and garden
plots, but they also make a significant
contribution to cleansing the air of pollu-
tants and reducing the harshness of noise
and the press of congestion. As an environ-
mental bonus, creating more areas for
recreational use in our large cities means
urban residents need not always burn fuel
traveling long distances to find clean air,
unpolluted waters, or peace and quiet.
  In contemporary society, access to
recreational opportunities has became an
essential resource  for good health. And a
healthful environment is a prerequiste  for
healthful recreational pursuits.

 The Environment and Women
Today, women are found in many roles in
our society. In steadily increasing numbers,
women are taking jobs outside the home
and moving into new occupations. Still, it is
women who bear children. And women
remain as the primary child rearers of our
society. This responsibility for children
carries with it a special concern for the
connections between the quality of the
environment and the health of the family.
  Women know today that the threat of
environment hazards is particularly acute
in pregnancy because of the vulnerability of
the fetus during the delicate process of cell
development and growth. The fetus, for
example, is highly sensitive to radiation. In
1956, Dr. Alice Stewart, a British physician
researching the effects of abdominal x-rays
during pregnancy, found that exposure of
the fetus to ionizing radiation could cause
luekemia and cancer during childhood.
  Women, themselves, run a higher risk
than men of developing cancer from
exposure to ionizing radiation. A 1978
National Academy of Sciences report on the
biological effects of ionizing radiation
concluded that the risk for women was
twice that of males for the same rate of
exposure and that "the incidence of
radiation-induced breast  and thyroid cancer
indicates that the total cancer risk is greater
for women than for men."
  Toxic chemicals also pose a special
threat. In Oregon, studies linked repeated
use of a herbicide spray contamining
poisonous dioxin to a heavy incidence of
miscarriages, birth abnormalities and
cancers among women of the area. The
potent pesticide DDT was banned from the
market in this country after concentrations
were discovered in mother's breast milk.
Diethylstilbestrol (DBS), medically
prescribed to prevent miscarriages, was
found to be implicated in cases of fibroid
tumors and various forms of cancer.
  Radiation and toxic substances can alter
human cells and result in spontaneous
abortions, stillbirths or severe physical
abnormalities and deformities in newborn
infants. Some effects may show up many
years after prenatal or early childhood
exposure in the form of cancer, sterility, or
birth defects caused by altered genes. The
changes can permanently affect the gene
pool, the common supply of inherited
characteristics which all humans ultimately
  Women with children, including those
who work outside the home, usually play
the primary role in protecting the health of
the family even in this era of shared
parental responsibilities. This responsi-
bility encompasses a broad range of
environmental concerns. Is the
community's drinking water free of
dangerous contaminants? Are pesticides
used safely in the home, in the garden, on
the farms that provide the produce avail-
able at the neighborhood supermarket? Are
hazardous wastes from local industries
properly disposed of? Questions such as
these have drawn countless women into
consumer advocacy, environmental
activity, and similar volunteer roles.
  Because of their special awareness of the
effects on young children of environmental
mismanagement, women are often at the
forefront of those advocating changes
needed to conserve and protect our
resources and our environment. These
options for the future may include modes of
living that consume less energy,
transportation alternatives that create less
pollution, and consumer choices that leave
less waste. Women are increasingly
making the connection between the pursuit
of a healthful environment and other
important national goals.

The Environment, Youth and Senior Citizens
People of all ages are affected by environ-
mental problems, but youngsters and
senior citizens are particularly vulnerable.
  Children are more susceptible to certain
hazardous substances and other
environmental pollutants than are adults.
Some of these can severely affect physical
and mental  development.
  Excessive intake of lead, for example, can
cause mental retardation or other
permanent  adverse effects in children,
including neurological disorders and
damage to vital organs. Other substances
may produce illness decades after exposure
  Products  used in the home often contain
toxic ingredients and these pose a particu-
lar hazard if they are accessible to children
too young to be aware of the danger.
Improper disposal of hazardous wastes can
imperil the health of children, as Love
Canal so tragically demonstrated.
  Older people share with the young a
heightened susceptibility to pollutants. Air
pollution, for example, is a serious problem
for many senior citizens because it can
aggravate cardio-respiratory problems that
so often occur in later years. Increasingly,
older people are demonstrating concern
about environmental problems and, in
many instances, are personally
participating in efforts to develop and
implement remedial action. In some com-
munities, retired people are making an
organized effort to teach young people
about the environment. The past of older
generations can only become the future for
the young if the environment is maintained
and protected.

 The Environment and Consumers
 The shopper selecting products from super-
 market shelves is making choices that can
 have a significant effect upon the environ-
 ment. So is the car buyer, the "do-it-your-
 selfer," the house hunter, the home
 gardener, and every other consumer. The
 incremental effect of all of our purchases,
 both large and small, ultimately affect the
 most basic of all consumer needs: the
 water, air, and soil that sustain life itself.
1   The connection between the products we
 use and the environment we share doesn't
 come naturally to American consumers.
 We grew up as a "consuming" country. Our
 forebears used land, water, forests,
 minerals, and fossil  fuels as if there were
 no tomorrow. Until well into this century,
 the wealth of the Nation seemed limitless.
 The environmental consequences of
 wasteful helter-skelter habits of production
 and consumption were slow to dawn upon
 the public mind.
   Now, however, there is growing
 recognition of the important energy, health
 and resource implications of production
 and consumption. We are learning to be
 foresighted and to understand that waste
 and wealth are not the same thing. Our
 new understanding  is apparent in the
 increasing demand for energy-efficient
homes and automobiles, in the growing
interest in recycling shown by industrialists
and consumers alike, and in the
conservation practices of modern farmers,
to name but a few.
  Even small consumer items can have
large effects on the environment. Aerosol
products, for example, were an instant
success in the American marketplace as
consumers eagerly took to the push-button
application of hair sprays, deodorants,
shaving cream, cleaning products,
pesticides, and dozens of other misted
materials. Years later, we learned that
chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's), then the most
common propellant used in aerosol
products, could break down the ozone layer
that protects the earth from the carcino-
genic effects of the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Now, the use of chlorofluorocarbons as an
aerosol propellant is banned in this country,
but the effects of CFC's still pose a problem
that concerns environmentalists
  The consequences of other consumer
decisions may be less dramatic but their
cumulative effects are no less important.
Excess or improper packaging contributes
heavily to our solid waste disposal problem.
Improper use of lawn and garden fertilizers,
careless disposal of used motor oil, and use
of high-phosphate detergents can lead to
pollution of surface and groundwaters.
  In this era of chemical abundance,
consumers are becoming more aware of
the byproduct problems caused by some of
the products they use. The manufacture of
cars, paper, plastics, clothing, rubber, paint,
pesticides, medicines and a host of other
products generates wastes that are toxic,
corrosive, explosive, or highly flammable.
The safe recycling, treatment, or disposal of
these hazardous wastes must be
everyone's concern because we all depend
on the same environment. If we make the
connection between what we consume and
how it may be consuming our life support-
ing environment, we may learn to become
caretaking consumers.

The Environment and Education
Education has a special relevance to the
title of this booklet: Consider the Connec-
tions. The preservation of a liveable
environment may hinge upon our willing-
ness to master the manifold connections
between human activities and environ-
mental consequences. Educational institu-
tions can contribute to this broader under-
standing by forging their own connections
among traditionally separate scientific and
other academic disciplines.
  This is a large challenge. Knowledge
multiplies. The more we learn, the more
there is to learn. The expansion of know-
ledge contributes to the pressures for more,
rather than less, specialization. While
specialized knowledge is, of course, a
prerequisite to any successful inter-
disciplinary activity, it should not be an end
in itself.
  We do not need engineers, no matter
how brilliant, who can envision and build a
beautiful dam and yet be blind to the
environmental effects upon the valley
beyond ... or biologists who can pinpoint
the factors that endanger a species but
remain unaware of broader concerns that
endanger our entire society ... or corporate
managers who can organize the
manufacture of profitable products but fail
to take account of the losses we all incur if
the byproducts endanger human health.
  Coping with the complex environmental
issues that confront us today calls for a real
consideration of the connections and an
interdisciplinary effort capable of matching
the growing magnitude of human-induced
changes upon nature and the world.
  In a more specific sense, an interdisciplin-
ary approach is essential to successful
environmental research and problem-
solving. The effort to find out more about
the causes and effects of acid rain, for
example, involves atmospheric chemists,
meteorologists, aquatic and terrestrial
biologists, forest scientists, geologists, and
economists, as well as experts in other
  The growth of environmental education
programs for young people can be expected
to increase the awareness of the need for
interdisciplinary action. Almost every
community offers examples, readily
grasped by youngsters, of the complex
interrelationships among land, air, water,
and biological systems on the one hand, and
human activities on the other. In a large
city, planners and citizens may be seeking
alternate modes of transportation to curb
air pollution from automobiles. In a rural
area, the challenge may be agricultural
runoff that washes irreplaceable topsoil or
hazardous pesticide residues into rivers
and streams, endangering drinking water
supplies and destroying recreational
assets. The expertise that abounds  in the
world must be connected if environmental
problems are to be solved. How we  educate
our young will determine how effectively
these connection are made in the future.

The Environment: The Global Connection
Environmental pollution occurs as a result
of the actions and choices of individuals.
These individual decisions affecting the
environment—whether they are made
carefully or carelessly, whether they
pertain to a single household or extend
throughout a giant corporation—ultimately
become part of the conglomerate of similar
actions and choices by millions of other
individuals around the globe. The environ-
mental effects of these many decisions,
naturally enough, are felt worldwide as
  It is local governments, however, that are
usually the first to learn about a pollution
problem, and the first to try to solve it. But
pollution knows no boundaries. One com-
munity's environmental problems may
orginate in an area quite apart, upstream or
upwind, and beyond the regulatory reach of
the jurisidiction that bears the burden of
  Because of such jurisdictional
limitations, local governments in our
country of necessity sought State action to
control the sources of pollution. But State
boundaries do not inhibit the movement of
pollutants any more than city or county
lines. Many of the more serious environ-
mental problems that arose in the United
States were regional in nature; States
could not act alone to deal with them.
Moreover, conflicting State environmental
demands posed special difficulties for many
industries and underscored the need for
national environmental laws. Recognition
of the national implications of pollution
control led to the major environmental
legislation of the past two decades.
  As we begin the decade of the 80's, we
are confronted almost daily with evidence
that even nation-wide pollution control
programs cannot contain some
environmental problems.
  International measures are increasingly
necessary so that we may cope with
problems such as acid rain and the release
of chlorofluorcarbons which deplete the
atmosphere's ozone layer which protects
us from excessive radiation from the sun.
  To solve environmental problems it is
necessary to "think globally, but act
locally." If we do so we may better
comprehend the global implications of local
actions affecting such matters as the long-
term storage or disposal of nuclear and
other hazardous wastes and the types and
degree of control placed on local sources of
air or water pollution.
  The better we see environmental
problems in their global context, the more
we appreciate the importance of remedial
action in our own communities. The global
commons are shared by the world's people
and the universal need for clean air, potable
water and fertile land connects us all.