12 Cause Effect Essay Topics on “Living Downstream” by Sandra Steingraber

Topics and ideas
Posted on December 24, 2015

If you are tasked with writing a cause or effect essay on the book “Living Downstream” there are many potential topics from which to choose. Of course, no matter the topic you have selected, it is imperative that you back up any statement or claim you make with facts. In order to help you in that regard, below you will find a handful of facts which might prove useful in the course of your writing.

  1. In the book, agricultural and industrial pollution are mixed together with anecdotes in order to provide readers with medical literature assessments, scientific assessments, and the conclusions therein about the relationship between rising rates of cancers and environmental influences.
  2. There remains a serious imbalance between studies of which environmental factors influence or contribute to cancers and those studies which focus instead of genetic predispositions for cancers. This remains a serious concern given that many cancers are not genetically transferrable and the source must be derived from an outside factor, such as an environmental factor. The reason this need should be filled is that the cancers caused by genetics, meaning those which are inherited, cannot really be altered at present and nothing can be done to improve upon the situation. However, those cancers caused by various environmental factors can be changed immediately and all influences mitigated, especially carcinogens.
  3. Carcinogens are substances which are known to cause cancer inside of living tissue, and these carcinogens exist in a variety of environmental substances to which people are exposed regularly. Chemical pesticides are one striking example of carcinogens which make their way into the human body. Those workers who are exposed to high levels of many chemicals regularly face contamination that goes unchecked by local healthcare, and only with blood and urine samples can the changes to the body be tracked.
  4. In the state of Illinois alone 54 million pounds of synthetic pesticides had been used on farms, many of which were poison. In 1950 less than 10% of all fields were sprayed with any pesticides but by 1993 99% had been treated with chemicals.
  5. Americans today between the ages of 35 and 64 are likely to die from cancer above all other ailments. In fact, by 1950 only 25% of adults could expect to get cancer while today that rate is almost 50% for men and 40% for women. The rise in cancer has increased steadily with processed foods, changing production habits, and changes in manufacturing. The qualifying link between all of these changes is the introduction of different chemical contaminants to the environment.
  6. Tazewell County located in the state of Illinois has shown many cases of a rare bladder cancer, a cancer which was contracted by the author when she was only 20 years of age. The high rates of said cancer has been linked scientifically to the carcinogenic chemicals in the region. The evidence presented in the book revealed that there was a six fold increase in the rates of bladder cancer among the workers who were exposed to particular chemicals related to rubber before legal workplace limits were put into place. In addition, immigrants who came to the area started to exhibit signs of the cancers adopted in the new area, and not the cancers which were prevalent in the place where they had been born.
  7. The maps presented by the author indicate that there are more cancers prevalent in urban areas compared to rural areas. In these maps, there are more cancers in the rural counties where the use of pesticides took place heavily, compared to those rural areas where the use of pesticides was minimal.
  8. The various studies presented in the book indicate that cancer clusters are prevalent near polluted dump sites, polluted valleys, polluted rivers, and near chemical factories. The same studies revealed that the rate of cancer in children has increased. The lifestyles of children have remained much the same over the last fifty years, without changes to alcohol consumption, smoking, or stress-related work, and yet the rate of cancer among children has risen at steady rates.
  9. Research indicates that the rate of shellfish and fish living within polluted waters has directly influenced the increase in cancer rates. Today, North Americans are seeing an increase in liver tumors among 16 fish species located throughout 25 different locations both fresh water and salt water. Each of these locations has become chemically polluted over the last sixty years. This was contrasted to the fact that the rates of liver cancer among members of those same fish species which inhabit waters not polluted by chemicals is almost non-existent.
  10. The studies conducted and presented by the author have indicated that chemicals contained in polluted areas are damaging to the immune system as well as to the endocrine system. The damage which is done to these areas results in the promotion of cancers.
  11. Regardless of whether the carcinogens have been introduced into the environment deliberately or accidentally, many scientists are afraid to speak out toward improvement unless they can be 100% sure there is a serious link and no other possible influencers. However, the existence of such high chemicals, even with the near one hundred percent studies which have been published, now render these areas seriously dangerous to the people who live there with very little legislation being done to help or hinder.
  12. There remains a serious cancer epidemic brought about by the chemical residues and the pesticides which have been used among the environment. This first claim has only been substantiated by studies covered within the book, and few and far between beyond that scope.

With these facts in mind, you can find a unique cause or effect on which to focus for your writing (we prepared for you 20 sample topics on “Living Downstream” by S. Steingraber as well).

Remember, there are many more facts out there within the span of the book and this list is by no means comprehensive. However, it should serve as a useful guide when you are starting off your work. Along with this information feel free to read our writing tips on cause effects essays.

Searle, Charles E. Chemical Carcinogens. Washington: American Chemical Society, 1976. Print.
Steingraber, Sandra. Living Downstream. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1997. Print.
Stich, H. F. Carcinogens And Mutagens In The Environment. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 1982. Print.
Viroj Wiwanitkit.,. Melamine And Other Problematic Food Carcinogens. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009. Print.
Zahm, Shelia Hoar, and Susan S. Devesa. “Childhood Cancer: Overview Of Incidence Trends And Environmental Carcinogens”. Environmental Health Perspectives 103 (1995): 177. Web.

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