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Dr. Susan Shaw : Marine Toxicologist – Jumps Deep Into The State of Our Oceans

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Visit her website at http://www.meriresarch.org/.  Since the onset of the Gulf Oil Crisis, and you will see Dr. Susan Shaw, Marine Toxicologist, has been interviewed by just about everyone: CNN, National Geographic, London Times, TED….she is in the heart of it, and her heart is in it. For, Dr. Susan Shaw is one of the few humans who have actually jumped into the oil thick waters to view the damage firsthand.

Despite the devastating report Dr. Shaw gave of the Gulf, what impressed upon me most during my interview with her is that cause for concern for our oceans began long before the Gulf oil crisis, and that she has been working on this persistently for over 20 years.

What sat with me is that our oceans are being filled with chemicals on a regular basis and marine lives are being adversely affected by this. To learn that whales, sharks, dolphins, seals, are being adversely affected by products such as: children’s pajamas, our mattresses, and our carpets was a bit of a wake-up moment. And that as their health is impacted so is ours.

What do the big fish and mammals of the ocean have in common with our mattresses, clothes and carpets? They are filled with chemicals such as flame retardants. According to Dr. Shaw, founder and director of Meri Research, (Maine Environmental Research Institute), 90% of our big fish and mammals – dolphins, whales, seals, and sharks – have disappeared for a host of reasons.

The biggest danger these animals face today is the amount of pollutants being poured into our oceans on a regular basis. Marine animals ingest the “persistent” chemicals found in some of our daily products including: TV’s and computers. Persistent chemicals (meaning will not dissipate), found in products in our homes and offices will eventually leak into the oceans. A huge source of these chemicals is flame retardants (www.wikpedia.org. – Brominated Flame Retardants). In essence, everything in our sewage systems and landfills which does not dissolve will make its way into the oceans. From our mattresses, to our carpets, dust and particles from these items make their eventual path from our septic tanks and landfills to the oceans of the world. These chemicals make their way up the marine life food chain, and the top of the food chain, the largest animals, face the eventual consequences. Water quality is also declining from items we throw away on a regular basis.

Companies are beginning to alter this effect by producing chemical-free mattresses, couches, and poly-fill, and we can help by supporting this movement. We can also help by choosing chemical-free food, house-cleaning and lawn care products, and choosing to recycle items. Dr. Shaw says after 20 years of marine toxicology research she knows it is time for a clean energy bill and stricter laws regarding chemical usage. She said, “Think of what I do as the CSI for ocean animals. I investigate their causes of death. I see the pollutants the animals have ingested.”

The poisoning of the oceans is having its toll on human health as well. Dr. Shaw states that what marine animals are ingesting can also found in our bodies from our daily exposure to these chemicals. In addition, we are eating the fish exposed to the chemicals: such as Herring and Mackerel. We may have been inundated and left feeling helpless from watching the Gulf oil spill coverage but the truth is: ocean poisoning goes on daily, and we can do something about it.

The Gulf oil spill has brought much needed attention to our oceans, and today Dr. Shaw can be found traveling almost continuously speaking on the importance of clean oceans. To make a difference and to learn more on Dr. Shaw’s work please visit: http://www.meriresearch.org/. To learn more about how to assist with chemical reform: visit http://www.saferchemicals.org/.

“Our country has weak regulations, broken regulations regarding chemicals. We allow products to be made without first testing the chemicals used in them,”

Dr. Susan Shaw

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