Why White Lake?

I’ve decided to write a new blog. About White Lake.  I have lived next to the lake that defines our community in many ways for my entire life, and there are too many things I just don’t know about it, even though I was part of a local group that worked for decades to clean it up and protect it.  So my blog is titled, Everything White Lake.  It will be about anything associated with White Lake – how deep it is, when it was formed and how, what lives in and around it, the quality of the water, how people have used and use the lake, what grows in  it, how it was settled and why, what unique history is associated with it and  more.  I envision this as possibly a yearlong project and I welcome the thoughts and ideas of area residents.  What do you want to know about White Lake?

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4 thoughts on “Why White Lake?”

  1. Probably because I am a new resident of the area, I am interested in the history of the area: How it was settled and why. I think there are a LOT of cool stories about the area. In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve uncovered some hidden gems that just make us want to learn more about the area

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  2. Did toxins from the old Tannery really cause Cancer in hundreds of people? My friends and I all swam and fished in that lake in the early 70’s and I have had two bouts with two different kinds of Cancer since.

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    1. Hi Teresa – Sorry for the delay in responding to your question. The holidays were busy indeed!

      Your question is a good one and it is not easy to answer. The short answer is no, from what I know, hundreds of people did not get cancer from the old tannery or from other companies in the area. Your question is a good one though because we had a number of industrial chemical companies that caused contamination of the lake, mainly lake bottom sediments. This harmed the community of aquatic organisms that lived on the lake bottom and also contaminated some fish species. Some of these companies also had regular and accidental discharges to the air, which could have impacted people who lived downwind and were outside regularly to breathe the chemicals.

      We had far less contamination of drinking water that people think, however, as any such incidents were found out pretty quickly and people were switched to clean sources. These situations were pretty localized.

      The challenge in trying to decide if people were made ill or harmed by these chemicals, is that they would need to be exposed to them – by breathing contaminated air coming from a company, having skin contact with the chemicals, having the chemicals volatilize from the air during a shower and being absorbed by your skin (if in your well), drinking contaminated water, or eating large amounts of fish contaminated with cancer causing chemicals over your lifetime. Further, not all chemicals would cause harm if exposures happened because not all chemicals are cancer causing. Even with cancer causing chemicals, the exposures usually have to be long-term such as drinking contaminated water for years – just a one-time exposure is not likely to cause cancer.

      Some people do attribute their cancer or that of friends or family members to living in the White Lake area, but regardless, we do not have any proof of this and can’t as many years have gone by. The time to look into it would have been when the companies were actively discharging chemicals so we would know what they were (the chemicals) and how much was getting into the air or water, and also who might be exposed, and if so, to what levels of chemicals and for what period of time. We do not know any of this, which is needed in order to make a better determination.

      Finally, we are exposed to many chemicals directly, in our food, cosmetics, and other products, over our lifetime and it makes it hard to make any solid determination as to what may be affecting our health, including the outside environment. Our best bet is to avoid harmful chemicals when we can, and push for more testing at the federal level, before chemicals are allowed in products that the public uses.

      There is good news about White Lake. In the fall of 2014, White Lake was officially delisted as a Great Lakes Area of Concern, after decades of work to study the lake’s problems and restore its health. It is not pristine – no lake with people living around it ever is – but it is a great step forward and one many of us are proud of. Another positive is that there is a local group actively working to monitor existing concerns, as well as help educate and encourage sustained citizen stewardship.

      Here is a great site that has all of the information on pollution and recovery associated with White Lake, www,restoringwhitelake.com — click on the White Lake PAC button.

      Please do not hesitate to contact me at tcabala@charter.net if you have any further questions. I am so sorry to hear about your bouts of cancer and hope you are doing well.

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