PFAS

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June 17, 2021- In the autumn of 1987, President Chun Doo-hwan, the autocratic leader of South Korea, came out with an amazing edict: Parliament was to investigate, and curb, the use of toxic chemicals in women’s cosmetics. The members of Parliament were appalled that this was going on, and swiftly complied with the President’s directive-not something that regularly happened, in the slowly changing South Korea of the late 1980s.

As newly arrived temporary residents of Jeju, where we were involved in teaching English to university students, Penny and I were also appalled at the toxicity of such a basic product, and gratified that the macho President had placed priority on women’s health. She was able to get non-toxic cosmetics, fairly regularly, from late 1987, onward.

Penny preferred a natural line of cosmetics, from a company called The Body Shop, which she regularly used, after we returned to Arizona, in 1992. She had enough of a struggle, with the hand she was dealt by heredity, without buying into the culture of toxicity.

It was with a considerable sense of outrage, then, that I read today’s report from Notre Dame University, which “found that 56% of foundations and eye products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine- an indicator of PFAS, so-called ‘Forever chemicals’ that are used in nonstick frying pans, rugs and countless other consumer products.” (Matthew Daly, Associated Press, June 17, 2021, taken from the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, June 15, 2021) . The study also reports that the highest PFAS levels were found in waterproof mascara (82%) and in long-lasting lipstick (62%). Of all the products tested, only ONE listed PFAS as an ingredient on the label.

Fortunately, both the EPA and Congress are moving on this issue, albeit belatedly. One Congresswoman remarked that she could not identify PFAS, in her own makeup, as the products were not properly labeled. That is likely true, across the board.

Here is the wider issue: Besides poisoning and endangering the lives of so many who are near and dear to us, Dr. Graham Peaslee, the principal researcher into this issue, at Notre Dame, states that “PFAS is a persistent chemical. When it gets into the bloodstream, it stays there and accumulates.” This has implications for babies in the womb or who are being breastfed. Then, there is the environmental contamination, which surely results from manufacturing and disposal. What effects does PFAS have on our water and soil?

A wake-up call for the cosmetics industry? That is the understatement of the year!

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIX: One Lady’s Flame of Learning

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July 10, 2017, South Bend-

The University of Notre Dame has long been the stuff of legends, particularly when it comes to college football. There is, of course, far more to this fine institution, so it was ironic that the stadium was off-limits to the public today, with intense construction work being done, in and around it.  My tour of Notre Dame, courtesy of a long-time correspondent, focused on everything else that makes this campus such a great institution.

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Our tour began near the Joyce Center,  a performance center, named for one of the University’s prime movers, Reverend Edmund P. Joyce.

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I am always drawn to student art.  This metal dinosaur was produced by a team of Notre Dame students, and is one of a wide variety of projects, visible around campus.  While I was there, several pieces were being transported to storage, saving them during the summer construction.

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Horticulture is as vital here, for aesthetics and soil enrichment, as it is at any great public place.

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I give you two views of Touchdown Jesus, the lovely, famed, and rather presumptuous, mural which faces Ara Parseghian Stadium.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Rev. Drs. Joyce and Hesburgh are seen, discussing their vision for Notre Dame.

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There are several panels, along the wall of the University Library, depicting symbols from the Old Testament.

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There are four concrete pavilions, in the center of campus, honouring those who fought in World Wars I & II, Korea, Vietnam and the ongoing conflicts in western Asia.

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In the central fountain of these pavilions, is a steel ball, representing our shared planet.

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The Washington Center, Notre Dame’s administrative center, is topped by this golden dome.

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Along the central corridor of the Washington Center are several portraits, depicting the life of Christopher Columbus.  An ornate crown may also be viewed, at the north end of the corridor.

My guide and I next proceeded to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  The modernesque features of the interior stand somewhat in contrast to the interiors of several much older cathedrals of, say, western Europe. Nonetheless, the artistry does a fine job of telling the Eternal Story.

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The High Altar, the Altar of St. Peter and the Altar of the Blessed Mother appear, lined up.

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The Basilica’s ceiling calls attention to the Divine Sacrifice.

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This tree shows its resilience, after a sacrifice of a different sort.

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It was now time for my guide to head back to her other duties, so from here, I spent several minutes on my own.

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That time was spent in the Jordan Center for Science.

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The Center’s biological and medical research is wide in field, most notably its research into blindness.  The Museum, closed when I was there, has an extensive collection of skeletons and taxidermy.

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The Sundial hearkens back to a time when naturalistic observation meant the difference between life and death.

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This has been one of the more fascinating campus tours, along with that, four years ago, of Princeton University, courtesy of another longtime correspondent. So, farewell, Notre Dame and Ara Parseghian Stadium.

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