Your Letters

6:48 PM, May 14, 2013  |  Comments
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A new threat to health

As a physician and ongoing observer of the health of Door County, I am deeply concerned about a proposed method of disposing of industrial agricultural sewage. It has the potential of causing adverse effects on the health of the community and of individuals.

The sewage that I am concerned about comes from industrial-sized concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and is in many ways more hazardous than domestic waste. It is loaded with bacteria that are likely to be resistant to antibiotics, but also with spores, viruses, fungi, protozoa, organic matter and chemical compounds. It is often called "liquid manure" in order to make it seem "green" and just as beneficial as conventional farm manure.

Where hundreds of animals are confined in close contact, the conditions exist for mutations of microorganisms to spread and to become established. Think of the examples of bird flu, swine flu and SARS. Up to this time, the human population has been only exposed to contaminated drinking and surface water. Fortunately the human stomach provides effective protection from ingested substances. Inhaling is another matter. The lungs and airways are prone to adverse reactions and infections.

CAFO operators are proposing to use semi-permanent off-the-ground irrigation systems to dispose of sewage in large amounts. This practice will overload the ground and water with nutrients, but also contaminate the air. Even large drops are torn up by the prevailing strong winds, which aerosolize the liquid and carry it downwind in inhalable form. A second opportunity for airborne dispersal occurs after the sewage dries on plants or soil when the wind will pick up spores, fungi and allergy-causing material.

For the general population the increase in airborne organic matter is likely to result in increased allergic symptoms such as sinus drainage that makes life unpleasant and makes people avoid Door County as a place visit or locate. People with asthma could experience unexpected attacks, which they may attempt to minimize by avoiding putrid or fecal-smelling air.

People with impaired immune defenses or chronic diseases would be at risk to contract difficult-to-treat and potentially fatal lung, skin and wound infections with bacteria or fungi. Healthy persons who have the misfortune to inhale or contact a powerful and possibly new version of staph, strep, clostridium or anthrax would be challenging to diagnose and treat and close to impossible to trace back to the source. If a viral epidemic were to happen, it might eventually be traced to the source long after it occurred.

The new method should not be approved conditionally pending later review, because the effects will be too diffuse and scattered to allow easy proof of their source. The CAFOs should be required to treat their sewage just as households are. (They might be induced to recycle phosphate for sale to areas of need). Most certainly the taxpayers should not support the irrigation method or any other aspect of CAFO operation financially with grants and loans.

Peter Sigmann, MD

Sturgeon Bay

Accountability missing

Well, well, well!

For years now groups like the tea party have railed against the abuses of Big Government, Invasive Government and Tyrannical Government. Now, the IRS has finally admitted that yes indeed, they did target the tea party and other conservative political and religious groups for special harassment. It seems that the tea party was right all along.

President Obama has stated that IRS harassment will not be tolerated, and that those responsible will be held accountable. Does anybody really believe that? We've had American border guards murdered with firearms supplied by ATF, embassies blown up, ambassadors assassinated, and doomed embassy defenders being denied the reinforcements they were pleading for. Has anyone ever been held accountable for anything in this administration?

The guy at the top sets policy. Those below him carry out policy. If the guy at the top can take credit for the liquidation of Osama, then surely the blame for the murder of the ambassador also lies on his doorstep.

Regarding the IRS case, it's no secret that the White House has been doing its best to discredit the tea party for years. Even if the White House did not initiate the IRS harassment of its political enemies, does anyone really think that it would be in any hurry to put an end to it? And of all the Obama underlings who knew that tea party harassment was occurring, how is it that the president says he first learned of it from a newspaper story? Does this pass the "smell" test? How deep and wide does the integrity shortage run in this administration?

The president tends to comment on these things as an observer, rather than a participant. But he is the chief participant. In charge. The head of government. If his senior staff is letting him down, then they have to go. If they are merely carrying out his wishes, then he himself is the problem.

When I was in the military, I once had a commanding officer who told his subordinates, "If you fail, I have failed." Now there's a leader who embraces responsibility! Too bad such quality leaders are so scarce in politics.

Tom Felhofer


Pampered indeed

I would like to thank the Family Centers of Door County for their "Pampering and Practicalities" event this past week and the amazing atmosphere they created for the women of Door County. It was a lovely evening. Great job, Melissa Kugel.

I am so grateful to whomever nominated me for a makeover! I would also like to do a special thank you to Leigh and Kelly at InVidia Salon in Sturgeon Bay. They used their magic to transform me into something magical that is truly life-changing. Looking for some pampering, ladies? Check them out! They are amazing.

Kathy Tellstrom

Sturgeon Bay

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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