Letters - October 24, 2014

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Still a deadly threat

Vaccines

The world at present is gripped with fear of the deadly disease Ebola.

But it is important not to lose sight of another dangerous disease, polio.

While it may not always prove fatal it is notorious for its propensity to maim and cripple children for life. And unlike Ebola it is entirely preventable by the use of vaccines.

Although the disease has been eradicated from large parts of the world it still continues to exist in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

As long as a single case of polio exists in the world no child anywhere, including the UK, is safe.

This is proven by the fact in the last two years the disease has re-emerged in several countries, which had successfully eradicated it, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Syria and Iraq.

We cannot therefore rest until we have rid the world once and for all from polio just as we have with smallpox.

Today is World Polio Day and so it is appropriate to report Rotary’s efforts over the last two years to fulfilits promise to eradicate the disease and protect children all over the world from its ugly clutches.

Thanks to the efforts of Rotary and its partners including the Gates Foundation, some 2.5 billion children have been immunised against polio with the result that its incidence has been brought down from 36,000 cases annually in 125 countries in 1985 to just 416 cases last year in a handful of countries.

With modern vaccines the disease can be successfully eradicated.

War, conflict and religious interference in some parts of the world interfere with the immunisation of children.

Funds are still needed to continue our campaign.

Please help, if you can, by texting POLO11 to 70070 to donate.

Dr Kadaba “Vas” Vasudev

Chairman, The Rotary Foundation District 1190 (Lancashire & Cumbria)

Gilbert and Sullivan

Opera

With Yeoman of the Guard, once more Marton Operatic Society has performed Gilbert and Sullivan, or should I say Lawrance and Dagger.

Yes, G&S at its best. There were some new faces on stage but it was still performed to high standards.

It was quite a change to see and hear this opera.

I for one, felt cold with shivers at times with the beautiful chorus, parts of which were verging on Grand Opera.

Nigel Thorne

Blackpool

Frack health warning

Benzene

Before Lancashire County Council decides to authorise fracking it is important that they also consider any long-term impact on the health of our local Fylde population who will be forced to live near these industrial sites.

Benzene, which causes acute myeloid leukaemia and is strongly associated with malignant lymphoma, may be present in fracking flow-back water.

Exposure to benzene occurs via inhalation or skin absorption.

The eminent USA Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has recently published preliminary data (August 21 2014) indicating that occupational exposure to benzene vapour during fracking can exceed regulations and present a risk during certain flow-back fluid work activities.

The study is unusual in that it did not simply rely on air samples.

The researchers also took urine samples from workers, linking the exposure to absorption of the toxin in their bodies.

In several cases, benzene exposures were found to be above safe levels.

The research also found that airborne concentrations of hydrocarbons, in general, and benzene, specifically, varied considerably during fracking fluid flow-back and can be unpredictable.

The construction of fracking pads results in air pollution, as does the frequent heavy duty large diesel lorry traffic back and forth from the sites.

Drilling itself results in more air pollution from diesel fuel engines, evaporation of wastewater, release of fracturing fluid, flaring of wells (burning or venting of gas at the wells), condensate material, and fugitive emissions from compressor stations.

Proximity to fracking sites presents an increased risk for potentially negative health effects.

According to the Colorado School of Public Health, ‘Residents living less than one half of a mile from (fracking) wells are at greater risk for health effects ...than are residents living greater than one half of a mile from wells.’

Recent research into diesel exhaust pollution has concluded that diesel exhaust fumes are a definite a cause of lung cancer, and may also cause bladder cancer.

Unlike the USA, the Fylde is relatively densely populated.

Are Fylde residents living near fracking sites about to become the innocent victims of a horrible industrial experiment?

Dr F.P. Rugman

Mb ChB, MSc (Distinction) FRCP (London)

Wrea Green