Ross: Living defensively has its limits when facing ‘forever chemicals’

May 23, 2024, 6:33 AM

forever chemicals living defensively...

A picture taken on June 15, 2021, shows the 3M factory in Zwijndrecht, Antwerp LO. (Photo by David Pintens, Getty Images)

(Photo by David Pintens, Getty Images)

I heard Angela’s commentary yesterday about pedestrians and how they tend to think of a crosswalk as having a protective force field because the law says it’s the driver’s responsibility to stop.

Angela Poe Russell’s commentary: A PSA all pedestrians need to hear

Her point? The law may well be on your side, but the law won’t hit the brakes if the driver doesn’t see you. There’s a bigger lesson here though. On the football field of life, the key to staying alive is a good defense.

I know this by instinct because I grew up as the small person who was picked last in gym class. In playground fights, I believe my record is 0-2 … so I have learned to avoid any physical conflict. Therefore, right of way or not, I don’t step into the crosswalk unless the road is empty.

The trouble is that this “live defensively” strategy has its limits – as we heard in today’s interview with Shannon Lerner of ProPublica. Her latest article describes how 3M lost control of its “forever chemicals” to the point that those chemicals show up in the blood not just of its plant workers, but people who’ve never been near a 3M plant.

“These chemicals accumulate in your bodies,” Lerner said. “According to the CDC, virtually everyone has some level of a forever chemical — at least one, but probably several — in their blood.”

So we’re not necessarily doomed. But how do you defend against that? A fine? The company’s already paid a fine.

“They were square with the law, but basically it was too late because the chemical seeped out of their products and basically into all of us,” Lerner added.

More from Dave Ross: If you hope the government will save kids from social media, think again

At some point, even my patience runs out and I can no longer play defense. You have to go on offense and say, “I don’t care how great your chemical is, I don’t want it trespassing in my body.” Which is why the 3M employee who saw those blood tests blew the whistle on her company.

Whether it’s giant factories churning out untested chemicals, or the ten thousand pounds of carbon that the average car pumps out of the tailpipe in a year, it’s all like peeing in the pool. Which is why I never open my mouth underwater.

And that’s today’s life lesson: Keep your eyes open in the crosswalk, your mouth closed in the pool and your whistle handy when you go to work.

Listen to “Seattle’s Morning News” with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

KIRO Newsradio Opinion

Image: Adrian Diaz addresses the press at a news conference on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 after Seattl...

Ursula Reutin

Ursula: Being gay has no bearing on allegations against former SPD chief Diaz

In his first interview since he stepped down as the city's top cop, former SPD Chief Adrian Diaz publicly came out as gay.

17 hours ago

Being a father means being there everyday. (Getty Images)...

Matt Markovich

Markovich: Fatherhood can’t be a part-time job

Data says the average school-age boy only spends 30 minutes a week in a one-on-one conversations with fathers when dad is at home.

22 hours ago

supreme court pro-life...

Dave Ross

Ross: Supreme Court rules against pro-life challenge, so what’s next for the Christian Nationalists?

The Supreme Court last week unanimously turned down the pro-life challenge to the FDA’s decision to make Mifepristone widely available.

2 days ago


MyNorthwest Video

Video: Timed Toilets Are A Thing?!?!

A popular tourist attraction in China has installed digital clocks that display just how long someone’s been “in there.” They say it’s for safety reasons, but some claim it’s shaming their #2 time… 🚽 Listen to the John & Jake Show every weekday at 3pm on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM. Listen to KIRO Newsradio 97.3 […]

6 days ago

police seattle schools...

Angela Poe Russell

Angela Poe Russell: Is it time to put police back in Seattle schools?

One senior from Garfield High School expressed disappointment over losing resource officers, wondering what difference their presence might have made.

7 days ago


MyNorthwest Video

Video: Trump Speech Causes Attendees To Pass Out

Former President Donald Trump had a rally at Las Vegas in Sunset Park where the temperatures were in the hundreds. Six rally-goers were sent to the hospital. Some say the Trump rallies are worth being out in the extreme heat for. Some rally-goers walked out early to escape it. Tune in live to The Jack […]

9 days ago

Ross: Living defensively has its limits when facing ‘forever chemicals’