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Ski Wax Toxicity

For those of us looking forward to the skiing season there is an issue we need to consider before we gear up for the fun. What kind of wax will we use from now on?

Since the 1980s, ski wax manufacturers have been using perfluorocarbons (PFCs) in their wax. PFCs were considered ideal additives for ski wax because they are water repellent and have low friction coefficients. However, it has now been shown that their risks far outweigh their benefits. PFCs break down into perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a man-made chemical which has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, and organ damage in laboratory animals. This chemical finds its way into the environment when excess wax is thrown in the garbage or when the thin membrane of wax on a ski is gradually worn off on the slopes. With the melting of snow in the spring, the toxic PFOA is carried into our water and most sensitive habitats.

Although we can't undo the harm that's been done, we can stop contributing to it by choosing to use environmentally friendly ski wax.

Defying Power

On November 7th to 9th, the National Energy Board of Canada (NEB) will hear the appeal of the US corporation seeking to build a major power plant, the Sumas Energy 2 (SE2), that would emit 2 1/2 tons of pollutants per day into British Columbia's Fraser Valley airshed.

The NEB ruled in March 2004 that "the burdens of the international power line outweigh the benefits" to Canadians. These burdens include the release of greenhouse gases and toxic particulate matter over the Valley's farmland and city of Abbotsford. The high-voltage (230,000 volt) power lines also pose health risks to those living near them from exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) of such magnitude. Exposure to high levels of EMFs are associated with increased incidences of several types of cancer, miscarriages, and other conditions.

SE2 is now appealing the NEB ruling and trying to force the project through, despite opposition from the government, environmental groups, and First Nations. Citizens of both the US and Canada opposed to construction of the plant say they are "fighting to set a precedent to ensure the people most directly affected are better represented, and that people's health and clean air is the most important consideration."

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Michelle von Hahn

Michelle von Hahn