|On Things Not Always Being As They Seem (ZR)|
|Written by Iceland Review|
|Sunday, 22 January 2012 11:00|
Like Eygló, I find the recent string of health and environmental scandals in Iceland infuriating.
First there was the dioxin pollution story scandal which broke last year in which emissions from a waste incinerator were found to be 20 times the authorized limit in 2007.
Meat and milk products from the area were found to be contaminated and subsequently recalled while affected livestock were slaughtered.
Incinerators in two locations in south Iceland were also found to be emitting well over the authorized limit of dioxin—up to 95 times the limit in 2007—and in one of these locations housed in the same building as a school.
Authorities had information on the polluting waste burning stations in 2007 but didn’t act on it; at least didn’t take actions which resulted in their closure.
More recently, one of the affected areas, in the West Fjords, was given the all clear for farming to recommence on the land as dioxin levels have reportedly dropped.
Now it has been discovered that imported fertilizer being used on pastures contains excessive amounts of cadmium. But, authorities took months to inform farmers and consumers of the finding.
It turns out that the PIP brand is more prone to rupture, causing silicone to leak into breast tissue. As industrial grade silicone was used in place of the medical variant, there are concerns of related illness and disease such as cancer.
Although authorities in Iceland knew about their potential danger in 2010 they didn’t announce the concerns of medical professionals, rather leaving the media to pick up on it in late 2011.
It has also been reported that half of the plastic surgeons of whom the Directorate of Health requested information on all breast enlargement operations in Iceland (i.e. not only those carried out by the surgeon using PIP implants) are yet to provide a formal response despite a deadline to do so having expired.
Disappointing. Many put their utmost trust in doctors and surgeons (not to mention pharmaceutical companies and health authorities) to act in accordance with their patients’ best interests.
The latest scandal involves the use of industrial grade salt for food production.
The story has caused international embarrassment with reports making headlines as far away as Australia (via AFP news agency).
As a side note, international news outlets wrongly reported that the salt used was designed for deicing roads and the manufacturer and importer were forced to issue a statement on the matter.
While the journalists involved should have done a better job at checking their facts, it was a fairly predictable error and efforts to avoid such reports should have been taken by the companies or authorities involved.
Although the salt has been used for years, food producers did not (as far as we know) formally pose questions or raise concerns of the practice during this time, nor were consumers informed until reports surfaced in the media last week.
And these are just the latest.
Apparently we shouldn’t be worried about any of these cases, the possible impacts or risks are not significant enough to be of concern. But, does that mean that those involved should be let off the hook for their negligence?
The potential implications of this, if only for Iceland’s (at times undeserved) image of being pure and clean, emphasizing respect for the environment and human health, are great.
However, unfortunately, we all play a part in this and should be responsible for doing our own research and for speaking up—especially when things don’t seem right. For the most part, journalists and the public failed in this regard in the lead-up to the banking collapse.
That should have been a lesson in things not always being as they seem and the importance in having a healthy dose of skepticism.
Zoë Robert – zoe_robert3[at]hotmail.com
|Last Updated on Sunday, 22 January 2012 23:09|