That’s a question my wife and I ask one another when another health crises hits the news.
Take the cars we knew growing up. If you are like me, I look back on the cars my family owned with a lot of nostalgia. But these cars had no seat belts; air bags were those too chatty guys, drunks, and grandmothers.
Back then cars used lead based gas; the lead from the exhaust was in the air we breathed; it settled on our lawns and we it tracked into our houses. Lead based paints were about all that were available.
Since these cars had no pollution controls, their exhaust was like sticking your head down a factory smoke stack.
Drunk driving was shrugged off.
The EPA and the Clean Water Act didn’t exist. Many cities and towns dumped raw sewage in rivers and streams. Companies used our rivers and streams as a sewer as well. They even dumped toxic waste in our woods.
Countries tested nuclear weapons in the atmosphere causing Strontium 90 – fallout – to fall in the grass where cows grazed. The radioactive Strontium 90 turned up in the milk we were encourage to drink at every meal.
DDT was widely used to spray the fruits and vegetables we bought in our supermarkets. The DDT was usually sprayed from a low level airplane so everyone in its path was sprayed too.
We breathed the cancer causing asbestos wrapping our hot water and central heating pipes, breathed smoke from coal spewing factories, public utilities, and home furnaces. We burned our leaves in fall and had fun doing that, but breathing that smoke killed people.
Just about everyone smoked cigarettes and if you didn’t smoke you can bet you breathed a lot of second hand smoke.
I am sure you could name a few more – polio before Jonas Salk; bird flu; Legionnaires Disease… .
Why ARE we still alive?