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


MyNorthwest Video

Video: Could WA Turn Red? Trump and the Governor Race

Spike O’Neill sees right through Trump’s ’50 State Strategy’ and Jack Stine weighs the odds of Dave Reichert beating Bob Ferguson’s name recognition – especially now that there aren’t three Bob Fergusons – in the race for Washington governor. Polling suggests voters are much more undecided than we expected. Tune in live to The Jack […]

9 hours ago


MyNorthwest Video

Video: Are Gas Prices Dropping? Not Really

Jack Stine investigates (aka, actually reads) a clickbait headline about gas prices. And Spike O’Neill is ready to buy an EV. Where’s Newt Gingrich when you need him? Tune in live to The Jack and Spike Show weekdays from noon to 3pm on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM. And if that timing, or our location in […]

10 hours ago

Photo: Bend of a running track....

Julia Dallas

John and Jake: Where’s the line when it comes to transgender children competing in sports?

Elizabeth Wilson's middle-school daughter took second place in the invitation-only Junior Olympic race for the 1600, but Wilson believes the first-place winner had an unfair advantage.

2 days ago


MyNorthwest Video

Video: Why Are White Woman Paying Thousands To Scream Therapy!

There’s a new therapeutic method in town: “primal scream therapy.” Video footage of one of the sessions is going viral, showing white women in the woods beating sticks onto the ground while they scream, a privilege which they have allegedly paid thousands of dollars to experience. But Jack Stine knows this ‘new craze’ is actually […]

4 days ago


MyNorthwest Video

Video: Trump’s Weird Excuse For Why He Didn’t Testify

Another radio station talk show, WABC, interviewed Donald Trump and asked him directly why he did not testify during his hush money criminal trial in New York (even though he said that he would). And the answer Trump gave them was completely nonsensical. Jack Stine and Spike O’Neill take a listen. Tune in live to […]

4 days ago


MyNorthwest Video

Video: Nikki Haley Flip Flops, Says She’s Voting for Trump

Nikki Haley ran her campaign for president calling Donald Trump “unhinged,” and “not qualified.” So why is she now saying she’s voting for him? One thing is obvious. Joe Biden scooped up those former Haley supporters faster than Jack Stine and Spike O’Neill could speculate about it. Tune in live to The Jack and Spike […]

4 days ago

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