Tasmania is heavily marketed as a pristine island with untouched wilderness areas, pure waterways and tasty, fresh, natural produce. Gourmet cheese and yoghurt, Tasmanian salmon, Oysters, berries - we've all bought these before believing that produce from Tasmania was fresher, healthier, tastier and cleaner than what we could buy elsewhere. However, Tasmania's clean and green reputation is misleading and falsely earned.
Who would have guessed that Tasma
nians experience the highest rates of cancer, Parkinson's disease, asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dental decay and toothlessness in Australia. It's not just the people who are suffering, Tasmania's wildlife are also extremely unwell. The Tasmanian devils have an aggressive, contagious form of cancer which has decimated their population. Their platypus and frogs get fungal infections and the marsupials toxoplasmosis. Tasmania's seals have tuberculosis and the echidnas staphylococcal infections.
This unnaturally high level of disease is most likely a result of long-term environmental pollution produced by the mining, agricultural and forestry industries as well as water fluoridation plants. With 41 fluoridation plants in operation, Tasmania is the most fluoridated state. It was also the first state to receive water fluoridation.
In addition to the toxic pesticides, fertilisers and other unidentified chemicals that are commonly found in the water catchments and rivers that provide drinking water to Tasmania's towns, you'll find sodium fluoride (a byproduct of aluminium smelting) and fluorosilicic acid (from superphosphate manufacturing) as well as their associated heavy metals, lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic.
Heavy metals produced by the mining industry also contaminate old mine sites, waterways, landfill sites and even residential and recreational areas. Like feed-lot cattle, intensively farmed salmon are fed antibiotics which find their way into the marine ecosystem and wild fish.
It's such a shame that Tasmania's human and wildlife population are being so blatantly exploited and polluted by big industry but the rest of Australia is also being subjected to the same sorts of toxins by the same industries - we're just more spread out. What's happening in Tasmania should be a big red flag to the rest of us. We cannot afford to sit back and accept chronic disease as inevitable and environmental pollution as a sign of progress.
Do some research, find out if your own backyard is being contaminated by toxic waste, pesticides and byproducts of industry. Speak out about it, educate others and hold your local politicians accountable until they acknowledge the problem and join in the fight. Do nothing and we all pay the price.