Poisoning Michigan: Author revisits PBB crisis 30 years later


Joyce Egginton's 1980 book, republished by Michigan State University Press last year, is available in paperback for $19.95 at http://msupress.msu.edu.

The accidental poisoning of Michigan dairy cattle in the 1970s sparked the largest chemical contamination in United States history.

Nine million residents consumed contaminated meat and milk for a year after a Michigan chemical plant mistakenly added PBB (polybrominated biphenyl) – a toxic fire retardant – to dairy cattle feed, and distributed it to farms throughout the state.

In the Poisoning of Michigan – published 30 years ago – investigative reporter and author Joyce Egginton sheds light on the PBB disaster and how federal and state authorities failed to respond.

PBBs were banned in 2003, but equally toxic substitutes are still commonly used. The Michigan State University Press reprinted Egginton’s book last August to draw attention to the subject once again.

In a phone interview from her home in New York, Egginton discusses the impact of the book 30 years later and how the risk of chemical contamination is a long-lasting concern.

Q: What sparked the story?

A: “One day I picked up the New York Times and there was, way tucked on an inside page, a very insignificant-looking story placed down the bottom of the page. It talked about the fact that there had been a contamination in Michigan and that it was estimated that everybody in the state had, by this time, drunk contaminated milk and eaten contaminated meat. And I thought, immediately, why isn’t anybody taking more notice of it? So I proposed that I should go out there and write it, and I did.”

Q: What was the immediate impact of the PBB contamination?

A: “What had happened is that the whole quantity of PBB had gotten mixed in cattle feed. It was the biggest cattle feed plant in the state of Michigan and farmers from all over the state ordered their feed from there. With any sort of poison that people are slowing taking, the symptoms started appearing gradually.

“At first, it didn’t seem too bad. Then, after a few weeks or months, farmers were saying their cows were aborting and cattle were dying. Cows began looking deformed: their coats were mangy and their hoofs would overgrow. The farmers did the obvious thing of going to the Department of Agriculture and saying, ‘I’ve got a problem here. Can you help me?’

“The general view presented to them by the Department of Agriculture at that time was well, ‘You must be doing something wrong.’ Because in the early days, the symptoms that the cattle showed could have been put down to bad husbandry or poor feeding methods. Farmers weren’t talking to each other about their troubles.

“It was over a year before the state acknowledged that the problem existed. And even then, it didn’t know how to handle it. I’m not saying that in any way blaming the state of Michigan, but simply, this was something so widely outside their experience that there was no way they could know what to do. It’s like a bunch of doctors faced with a brand new disease. They started looking at the diseases they knew rather than looking for something they didn’t know.”

Joyce Egginton was a foreign correspondent for a British newspaper when she first wrote about the PBB crisis. Photo: Michigan State University Press

Q: Why was the PBB crisis underreported when it happened? Do you think it’s been covered fairly since then?

A: “Even at that time, although it was this little downpage story in the New York Times, there was nothing in any of the Detroit papers. The Grand Rapids Press started covering it very early, and did a good job. A monthly magazine called the Michigan Farmer did, but nobody else that I could see. At the beginning, it was thought to be the complaints of farmers that couldn’t be substantiated.

“It was an enormous story and no one was interested. I’m still, all these years later, amazed that that story has not been more widely told. Here is the biggest recorded contamination alone in this country – one that affected nine million people – and where have you read much about it?

“Not long after it happened, there was a story of contamination in a place up in New York state called Love Canal. It was a modern housing estate that had been built on top of an old toxic dump. Everybody had been told the dump was sealed and safe, and it wasn’t. After some years, the toxins from the dump started permeating into people’s homes and there was a high degree of illness, particularly among children.

“Now that got a lot of attention – a huge amount of attention. I reported on Love Canal. It was all contained in one place. It was easy to find people to interview because were all living in adjoining streets. They were all activists in the fight against the whole contamination issue.

“When you had come to report the Michigan story, what have you got? You got a farmer here, another farmer 50 miles away, another farmer a long drive across the countryside. I drove hundreds of thousands of miles crisscrossing Michigan, interviewing farmers. Newspapers don’t give that much time to a story. It took an awful lot of time. It wasn’t easy. Is that why it didn’t get better reported? I often wonder how many stories are easier to report get reported much better because of that.”

Q: What were the hurdles to gathering and presenting the material?

A: “I really had to learn how to report differently from the way I had been taught. This is true of any environmental reporting. As a journalist, I had been trained that once you get a story, always check it out with the authorities. Here you get a story that you go to the authorities – the Department of Agriculture and Farm Bureau – and they’re telling you, ‘Oh, look, he’s making a lot of fuss, we know about him. His farming methods aren’t that great.’

“That was a huge obstacle. It was an obstacle for me because I didn’t know about dairy farming. I studied it as hard as I could, and as quickly as I could, but I think it was an obstacle that daunted a great many journalists in the state. I always remember that the head of the Department of Public Health in Michigan saying later, several years later, this was something beyond their comprehension.

“He used the phrase: ‘We were mired in a swamp of ignorance.’”

Q: Why reissue the book 30 years later?

A: “This event in Michigan did cause PBB to be outlawed. It’s never been made since. And so there is a general reaction, ‘Well, Thank God.’ It’s caused this trouble – it’s no longer a menace.

“Now, one discovers, that what replaced PBB is a great variety of similar chemicals that are used as fire retardants without real testing on the market. They’re not tested on people and many of them aren’t even tested on animals. And they’re terribly widely used.

“This country has the highest incidents of these kinds of chemicals being found in people’s bodies. They’re used as fire retardants in practically every home. For example, it’s in the kind of foam rubber that is used in mattresses and armchairs. It’s used in carpets and drapes.

“Doing the job it’s said to do is a huge amount of overkill. OK, it’s a fire retardant but it’s poisoning people the whole time. It’s a good example of trying to come up with a preventive before you really find out what dangers the preventive can pose. I thought it’s about time to draw some more attention to that.”

Q: How would you have approached this book in 2010?

A: “In some ways, it would be easier to cover because there’s more knowledge in place. When they tried to settle this one by a lawsuit on behalf of the farmers there was no such thing as environmental law. Now, there’s more protection for the public. But the more protection is coming at the same time as the more exposure. The one is never catching up with the other.


After the statewide PBB contamination, the chemical plant at fault, owned by a company now called Velsicol Chemical Corp., became a federal Superfund site due to contamination of a nearby river. See what an environmental policy expert has to say about its cleanup.

131 thoughts on “Poisoning Michigan: Author revisits PBB crisis 30 years later

  1. Pingback: Michigan contaminated and no one cares - The RAnts of RA

  2. Where did Gerber get the meat for the meat sticks that they were producing and selling nationwide in the early to mid 1970’s? The FDA refuses to return my phone calls regarding this. Gerber is and was in the heart of cattle country, Battle Creek and Fremont from what I can determine. The reason I am inquiring is because I have been tenaciously researching as to why my daughter has thyroid issues with no family history of it. I fed her these meat sticks in late 1975 and 1976, and it is my understanding that ‘low levels of PBB’ were accepted in the food chain at that time. I will get my answer.

  3. We lived in Michigan 1974-1980. We ate beef, pork and chicken . We also consumed milk and milk products. I had a miscarriage in 1978. I had decided not to breast feed on any future babies I might have because of the PBB. I will never forget seeing all those pitiful animals on television being shot and put in the mass grave. I remember crying as we watched farmers shooting whole herds.
    In 1980 I had a beautiful baby. She is now 32 and has had numerous health problems from birth . Bowl, kidney problems, cysts on both ovaries beginning at age 12 and many throughout the yrs since.
    I now have thyroid problems, fybroid tumors, hair loss and a rash on my leg that first appeared in 2004. I have gone to 3 dermatologists and 5 different drs. It is getting worse and no one really knows what it is. I go to a different dermatologist next week to have a biopsy done. It is so uncomfortable and itches so bad that I scratch it while sleeping. Can not express how bad it burns and itches.
    My husband had rashes when we first moved from Michigan in 1980-1986. This was unbearable that he could not be out in the sun without socks or shorts on. When the sun was on the exposed skin of his legs or feet. He would have to run into the bath and run cold water until the burning and itching stopped. He has had numerous cysts, basal cell and squamous cell tumors removed.
    I did watch the movie a few yrs ago that Ron Howard was in. It was so sad.
    My families illnesses may not be connected to our living in Michigan for those 7 yrs. but I will always wonder. Since Michigan was so great on not helping and not following up with all those families they started the study on we will never know. My heart goes out to those farmers and families that not only lost their farms and probably a lot have lost loved ones because of a large companies greed and our corrupt government not following through to help the victims instead of a cover up.

  4. This happened in 1970 and when my son was born in Dec 1971 The University of Iowa hospital woud not let me nurse my son because chances were pretty good the milk had been sold right here in Iowa. I get these little white bumps on my breast to this day and when I soak in a tub or shower sometimes a white stuff will come out. I wonder if this is the PBB/s coming out 43 years later and if there is any way to get it out now…….

  5. Just finished watching the movie “Bitter Harvest” and found it to be scarey and sad for the people of MI..I also would be interested to know how far this contamination may have extended due to the products made from contaminated milk meat chicken etc. since the shelf life of canned goods such formula, soups, etc, is quite lengthy. I have 3 sons born during those years, the youngest of which has many medical problems that began at birth and continue today. I feel for those in MI affected by pbb and also realize to that there are many more contaminates out there that we don’t even realize we have been exposed to and this results in medical mysteries for many people.. We need better testing standards and more doctors willing to look outside the box when diagnosing illnesses that make no sense, Sounds like money, greed and being job scared is more important than human life to me..We are not only destroying our world but those that live in it. WHAT DO OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS HAVE TO BATTLE TO OVERCOME WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN CREATED BY THOSE WHO ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR. It is a shame.

  6. I was still young at the time, but I remember it all very well.
    The only reason the state admitted it had a problem was because one farmer sent samples to OUT OF STATE labs. Until then, the state was denying there was anything wrong. The state admitted to the problem less than two days after the farmer reported what he had done.

    The state was trying to cover it up. And even after the fact, the lawsuit settlement explicitly stated that nobody else could sue. The state cut everyone off from their right to sue.

    Today, you look at the available literature, and you might think PBB poisoning was not so bad. It seriously degrades memory and cognition. Since it stores itself in fat, anyone who is exposed will re-poison themselves every time they try to lose weight. I never hear about it, but they used to tell women to NOT breast feed their children as they will only end up poisoning their children.

    Before the state admitted to anything, I remember my mother throwing out milk because it smelled funny. Some milk was so poisoned that it had a red tint – but was still sitting on the store shelves.

    The poisoning was FAR WORSE than they’re telling it today.

  7. I lived in the Michigan area and the area where so many persons were affected by contaminated milk and meat. I remember it so clearly. Now I am 52 and for the majority of my adult life starting probably in my senior year really, I started having symptoms that were vague. I had unexplained thyroid symptoms that would come and go and odd muscle issues w/weakness. Later I would develope an autoimmune disease that no family member could explaine as no one had this. I now deal w/so many issues from neuropathy, to myositis, to and autoimmune disease and thyroid disease. It’s so odd that one person can have so much wrong w/them w/no real explanation and I always seem to go back to that time in my life. It’s just that I can’t seem to not wonder if that time in my life and that experience didn’t have any part to what I have dealt w/in my current life and what I have now passed onto some of my chldren sadly. Disease that I can’t seem to explain nor show that runs in my family on either side. How could a state get away w/such negligent w/o being accountable to it’s citizens? I often have wondered that. I am so glad though that it is finally out in the open. Thank you.

  8. My parents bought a side of beef that was contaminated. My mother had her breast milk tested and her levels were off the charts. Shortly after this and before I was born, my parents built a farm and we went ‘organic’ consuming mostly what we raised and grew including milking our own cow and eating our own beef that was fed by our own crops.

    Regardless of never neither of us having directly consumed the contaminated meat, milk or other food products. My younger sister and I both have Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism, digestive issues and some weird skin reaction to water among many other strange symptoms.

    Whether you ate it directly, consumed breast milk or not, the very fact that my body was formed in the body of a person still contaminated with PBBs still seems to have impacted our health.

    I would like to see some research on the impact this has had on the health of Michigan citizens. I would also like to see the companies who are still continuing on in business to this day (under the same name or not) fund and pay for any costs associated or resulting from this.

  9. My name is Jennifer. I grew up playing on my grandparents farm in Paw Paw, Michigan from mid 1970s to approx 1990. I have found some articles with regards to this situation where individuals with dairy farms in Michigan were also coming down with Hodgkins disease in the late 1970s, after the theory that farmers who were poisoned with PBBs were also developing Hodgkins. Hodgkins is rare, and is not typically associated with heredity.
    I have an aunt who, at 16 years old (around 1976’ish), developed symptoms and was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. This would have been approximately around the year 1976 or ’77. She had passed away after struggling for approximately 7 years with the disease, in 1983. Her family drank their cow’s milk straight from the milkhouse every day.
    I would like to add this information to a national database for consideration as a link to further improve the knowledge of possible links between PBBs and Hodgkins disease. Please share any info or links that you have to help me pass this information along for consideration. Thank you. justjen76@comcast.net

  10. I lived in Freemont Michigan in 1974-, my family lived two miles from the grain elevator at the edge of town across the street from a Dairy and five miles from ground zero where over 5000 cattle were taken and killed and buried in a clay lined pit. We drank raw milk from across the street every day. We saw the health problems of the calves. I even used to help put medicine in the calves eyes to help one of the problems. Little Bully, my broter’s new born bull who came from there sadly died he was very young. My other calf had problems too. I suspect it has contributed to my many physical problems also no way to pinpoint for sure but the more chemicals you are exposed too the more problems that occur. Look at Gulf War Syndrome.
    I worried for many years about this with no way to find out any helpful information. Very tragic.

  11. I lived in Central Michigan and my family was severly harmed by PBB. My twin sister and I have many problems including autoimune, siezures, digestive, cancer, thyroid, skin, and reproductive. Our daughters, who we breast-fed, are now beginning to develop these same issues.

    We have suffered enough, now we have to watch them suffer too? Really?

  12. I lived in Kalkaska Michigan from 1969 until 1988. I have severe Crohns disease, my immune system is shot! Lots of surgery lots of medical bills (good times). I have never been tested. One will never get the straight story, kinda like Agent Orange. PBB it taste like chicken ;) Hello to all of you back home.

  13. I am the son of the farm animal veterinarian who originally diagnosed the problem on his client, Rick Halbert’s farm. My father also wrote the first technical article on PBB for the American Veterinary Medical Association Journal shortly after it’s discovery. His name was Dr. Ted F. Jackson. My father was warning the Michigan State legislature at that time that there were no safe levels for PBB in the human food chain. He had been running feed tests with animals and was discovering such things as genetic mutations happening in a lot of the contaminated animals. PBB is/was a bio-accumulating chemical which basically would store in the body fat and continue to accumulate in humans eating foods with any level of PBB in them. He felt there was no safe level to set for PBB in any foods (milk, meat, etc). Unfortunately, he died shortly after his discovery and before the full extend of the spreading poison was revealed. Edwin Chen also wrote a good book on PBB in the late 70s and worked with me on a screenplay about this subject, which I was never able to get funded. It ran under two titles, CATTLEGATE & TOO MANY DRUNK COWS. I did a brief 28 minute documentary on PBB in the early 80s, where I interviewed some of the farm families affected and a Dr. Alpha Clark, DVM. I utilized some footage in that documentary from an excellent BBC documentary amde in the late 70s and I haven’t been able to track it down these many years later, although, the name John Fielding sticks in my distant memory as possibly one of the producers. My documentary was made with the purpose in mind of promoting fund-raising for my feature film. I did a PR junket in Michigan in 1983promoting my film project. I do have that documentary available through my website, http://www.taoslandandfilm.com. Also Dr. Irving Selikoff from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine was doing a long term human health study back at that time. I’m sure he’s passed on by now. Essentially, the Michigan State Govt. along with the insurance companies & Farm Bureau and the chemical companies, gave large settlements to the first tier of highly contaminated farms and then legislated what they called acceptable levels of PBB in food products and forced the majority of poisoned farmers in Michigan into a horribly compromised position of having to sell their contaminated food products into the human food chain or face being forced into bankruptsy via their FHA Farm Loans. Many of these farm families were seeing the human health effects on their families. It was a bad moral dilemma…Best, Jeff Jackson

  14. I was a young woman at that time and drank a lot milk. We believed that milk was good for us. I did not have any specific issues until at 54 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Of course I can’t prove anything but in reading about breast cancer and what courses of action could be taken, I learned that the rate of breast cancer in MI for young females of that era are much higher then for other states. Just something for people to be aware of, it doesn’t just have effects on our offspring.


  16. While all of the PBB contamination was primary in the State of Michigan but I can without a doubt tell you that the contaminated products went far beyond the state of origin! These products and by-products was distributed throughout the country and to who knows??? It is kind of like a herbicide for example, it goes on the leaf of the plant the toward the root system then to the soil where then it is degraded and suposably un-harmfull or at the least tollerable by humans and animals!? I am saying that I was not raised in Michigan nor ever resided there. I was raised and living in the state of Illinois when this crisis with PBB took place. I am 52 years old and have some / a lot of the same unexplained symptoms that the people that did reside in that state. I began having multiple symptoms about the time this was going on. I was 13-14 years old. Further more on the main topic – PBB poisoning : this is one of those toxins that stay in the fatty tissues of the body and begins to mutate genes in every generation therafter- just like DDT and many other toxins. Another one, just for another example is Chlordane pest / termite control product that was produced in the late 1940’s and was used on over 1 million plus home not including indutrial and apartment complexes abroad! The doctors as well as the polititions in our poluted sosciety aren’t going to reveal no more of these things than nessarry!!! – look at the nuclear disasters that have taken place just recently. Radiation of that magnitude Would Not just effect Japan! Go all the way back to Schernoble in the 1970’s – that haze floated copletely around the earth contaminating every human on earth to some extent! I realize that PBB is quit a different story but again, that meat, milk and bi-products went to hundreds of other food sources and producers of even such as canned goods made from that stock before it was reavealed and shut down! I think that could have contributed to my unexplained illnesses and unspecified hemotology reports. Doctors shrug their shoulders and hand out SSRI medicines “anti-depressants” of all kinds and names like candy as if it is a wonderdrug and cure-all!

  17. Though I was raised in Michigan most of my life, I feel rather fortunate that my father was relocated about the time all of this started. We did drink contaminated milk for a few months however. My father & brothers were bigger milk drinkers. My younger brother has had testicular cancer and has suffered from Crohn’s and arthritis since his 30’s. My dad passed away of stomach cancer a few years ago in his early 60’s. I have occasional uterine cysts that flair up. and had an unusually early period, at the age of 9. It was rather embarrassing, the first girl in my class. I stopped drinking milk when I was about 10 due to the news of the PBB and to general distrust of milk products anymore. I also stopped eating poultry in the mid 70’s due to a change of flavor, a chemical I began noticing that did not smell or taste right. Our family moved back to Michigan in 1977. I have pretty much eliminated all red meats and try my hardest to find organic sources for all meats if I do. An ever expanding garden from organic seed stock produces enough canned goods for a year. Luckily so far I do not have the health problems that many 45 year olds that have lived in Michigan often do. I don’t trust packaged or processed foods, in any part of the food chain. The FDA does not prevent disease or encourage optimum health, but instead is driven by mass consumption and profit.

  18. Pingback: Four Minutes of “Bitter Harvest” « Sensitivity Road

  19. I was in my early twenties and breastfeeding my child when the news finally broke, alerting the public about the PBB poisoning. I sent a sample of my breast milk to the health department and sure enough, PBB was found in my breast milk. I was reassured by my gynocologist and my baby’s pediatrician that the benefits of breastfeeding far outweighed the risks of the PBB for my nursing baby. So I continued to breastfeed.

    Now all these years later, I caught the movie Bitter Harvest on Netflix. Possible effects of PBB chemical poisoning on the human body included (but were not limited to) hair loss, skin sores and/or rashes, memory loss/confusion, damage/tumors to internal organs, among other symptoms. Many symptoms, or a combination of symptoms, could strike at any time. Or, symptoms could skip a generation and manifest in our children. The PBB’s remain in our fat cells for life. We cannot rid ourselves of them. A chill ran through me as another possibility was discussed in the film – PBBs could remain dormant in the body for decades, and then suddenly, inexplicably, an attack of arthritis or autoimmune disease could strike.

    I was recently diagnosed with RA and fibromyalgia, and I am now legally disabled. Funny though, the doctors remain puzzled because fibromyalgia normally occurs after an illness, like the flu. I had no such symptoms. Was the PBB poisoning in my body the trigger that set my body into a tailspin? I can’t prove it, but four years ago I was active, gardening, bike riding, working, and attending grad school. Now I have trouble walking and managing self-care. I am 57, living in the body of an 85 year old woman.

    The agencies that put public health so low on their list of priorities should have trouble sleeping at night.

  20. I was 10 at the time. I watched them bury all the animals in a hole only to watch them dig them up later. The state said to bury, then changed their mind when the water became contaminated. When my horse became ill, I took him to MSU vet. hospital. The young vet tech told me the horse had pbb in him even though the horse had never consumed any tainted feed. The horse has been drinking the same well water as myself and family. All these years I have lived with knowing “it’s not IF I’ll get cancer but WHEN. Well today, April 10, 2012, I was told I have cancer. I do love my county, but I do fear my government. I have always know that the State of Michigan spent more time covering up than helping.

  21. Mother Jones magazine covered the heck out of this issue in 1977 — way beyond what mainstream media dedicated to coverage. Significant for many readers was the percentage of the population who had PBB present in breast milk, about 94 percent of people tested.

  22. Thank you Deb for your detailed story. I’m sorry for your family’s history. As for my update, I am still cancer free after 10 years. So far my children and grandchildren are OK. I’ve lived in the Whitehall area since 1979 and we had another big environmental disaster involving Hooker Chemical dumping chemicals into the White Lake that empties into Lake Michigan. There is now a cancer study being done for anyone who has lived in the area, so hopefully there will be some answers. I wish a study would be done about the PBB years. Hopefully we are learning from our past mistakes.

  23. I’m 42 now I am just now wondering if health issues are from pbb ,I was 6 eating beef from a rope in a barn,to dipping a milk jug in bulktank for cearel ,where do I start legelly

  24. I AM DEALING WITH CYSTS And chronic pain. Have autoimmune thyroid disease. i think i should get tested.

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  26. I grew up in Sault ste marie, born in 1963. My grandfather owned a dairy farm and I can remember all the talk but that was the last I ever thought about it. Now I have crohns disease and many family members suffer from much the same inflictions. A friend suggested I google the subject of PBB and auto immune disease. I am shocked!!!! All these stories hit so close to home for me. Could this explain the pain I suffer and the suffering of my family?

  27. Yes, it was in the chicken feed, too. My father owned a hatchery and a farm with laying hens. He lost so much money that he lost the business that my grandfather started in the 1940s.

  28. Yes, Pennsylvania Crossings near Mt Tom Rd in Mio MI that is where the cows were buried. My family is from Mio. I was born in 75. My parents have shared the sad story of that day.

  29. My daughter married a dairy farmer in Michigan who’s cows were infected by the PBB’s in the feed . Her husband ate the meat and drank the milk and all of their children had birth defects as: pituitary dwarfs,(midgets) pigmentosa retinitis ( blindness) bone dyspepsia, all their joints bend backwards. All 3 grandson born with this.
    My grandson’s are on full disability for the rest of their lives.
    Is there anyway they can sue the government for this terrible tragedy to get some kind of re compensation? They can never marry or have children or a normal life.


  31. I am one of the original 8 people who work in the department that manufactured BP-6, (PBB) for Michigan Chemical. I breathed it, ate my lunch in it, and have no ill effects at all. Some people look to blame whatever they can for what ever problems they have. It wasn’t good stuff, but I don’t believe it was near as bad as the media made it out to be.

  32. My Father died of Colon cancer, when he was 60 years old. There was no family history of the disease. I was born in 1958, ate Beef served to me in the 70’s and drank milk. I have bowel problems, digestive problems that sprang out of no where in my early twenties. My Mother is still alive and is 90 years old,she drank very little milk, and ate very little beef.She does not seem to be effected by any health problems relating to this situation. I think that this contamination effected everyone differently. I remember this situation. What is sad, is that the State of Michigan has not put out information to the population on what we should be watching for, so this problem is going to go on for generations.

  33. I was on one of the PBB farms as a child. Our cows were shot, we got new cows, and again they got PBB. It was horrible. This is very, very real and the symptoms and illness reported are very real. My family has suffered greatly because of PBB. Thank God that in Heaven we’ll all have perfect, PBB free bodies.

  34. I lived on a farm contaminated with PBB and saw first hand what happened to our animals. My whole family was contaminated (proven by blood tests) and we now suffer the after affects of contamination. We have many autoimmune diseases. I chose not to breastfeed my children who were born in 77 and 79 due to the contamination. I was highly encouraged by my Dr. to breastfeed and they would test my milk. The results would be returned to me in 6 – 8 weeks and then I could make a decision to continue to breastfeed or quit. I didn’t want to take any chances after I saw the condition of our cows and calves. It divided our community and yes, my parents were blamed for more husbandry. We took care of our cows exactly the same before the contamination as after so that was not the case. Our vet was super and very supportive and helped us so much. He also assured us that it wasn’t poor management on our part.

    My Mom kept some of the feed that we feel the contamination was in. She sent some to a lab to be tested and it came back positive for PBB. Soon after, the State of MI contacted my parents and wanted all of the feed that we had sampled sent in to them for “testing”. My Mom told them that the sample she sent in was all she had and kept it hidden in our freezer for years.

    My family was tested for contamination but I opted out as I was pregnant for my first child and did not want to worry as there was nothing that could be done if I had a high contamination level. All members of my family tested positive with my Father and one sister have very high levels. They both have numerous health problems. We all seem to have some form of autoimmune disease. I wish I could be involved with some testing as I did not do that at the beginning. I also was not included in any of the settlement that my parents received. They used their settlement money to pay all debts, auctioned their farm equipment and sold the farm. They did not profit from this in any way and in fact lost lots and lots of money. Very dark period for my whole family.

  35. There is a movie about the cows and the PBB and all the trouble farmers went thru and how the state ignored them
    The movie is called Bitter Harvest it very good

  36. I am sad to hear there are many more questions on the board than answers.

    Stats on me & mine: Mother has “mystery” thyroid illness that doesnt allow her to walk upstairs in her own house without having to stop and “rest”. Still trying to work but its very very hard for her.

    Me: Pheochromocytoma taken out, now possible uterine tumors. Waiting on blood work for thyroid. Because I was unaware breast fed daughter.

    Daughter: Bad bad vision problems, no one in either side of family even wears glasses. We are all very short, most under 5 ft, stunted growth maybe.

    Why arent docs in the area still testing for these “side effects”?
    I should have been told so I could make decisions based on all the info.
    As everyone is asking can I still be tested for PBB presence
    I will now go and watch bitter harvest. Problem being for me & my female family we are getting dismissed has “kooky almost hysterical women” when we present these all to real issues.

    Mother has given up looking for help, so very sad to me. I keep trying to find help but always ends up with all the docs asking me if I depressed and handed anti depressants. Im sure if I bring this issue up the will just look at me weirder. That sucks!

  37. i would really like to know how much of michigans dairy products were shipped out of state in 1973 to 1975.i doubt it was all sold in state.why were they putting it in the feed.they put fluoride in are water here why its toxic.

  38. once again we see our governments handiwork.it pains me to see things like this. if this kind of thing doesnt stop soon,we better make sure we are insured. how i long for the good old days,when a mans word was good for anything!

  39. My husband and I lived in Kalkaska, MI during this time (1972-1976). I gave birth to our first child (5/73) and he developed extreme diarreha at age 4 weeks and continued to lose weight. I was breast feeding him until we finally found a doctor that placed him on yogurt. His weight dropped from 8 lbs 1 oz to 4 lbs 8oz. Twenty one years later he was diagnoised with IGA Neuropathy. He has since had a kidney transplant.

    Our second child was premature and has suffered with undiagnoised digestive problems since birth. Due to his size and difficulty in feeding I was unable breast feed him. He was also born with a rectal deformity.

    Our youngest(daughter/twin died before birth) was born with inflammatory/pain issues and was hospitialized the first time at age 6 months with an undiagnoised illness. She woke at 6AM screaming from extremem pain and could not be consoled. All tests came back negative and at the time her pediatrician felt she needed to be transfered to a larger hospital, but before she could be transfered she went to sleep and he allowed her to sleep. When she woke up she appeared to be fine. This pattern continues to this day and she is 31 years old. She had to have her thyroid removed when was 22. She suffers from digestive, inflammatory problems and degenerative disc disease.

    If I ever thought I should not breast feed my children I would have had them on formula from the first day. I thought breast feeding was the best I could offer them. Our two youngest children were born in Evansville, IN. I wish there would have been a national health warning that if you were contaminated with PPB you should not breast feed. I am also amazed at how quiet this has been in the health care field. I have brought PBB up at every medical facility we have had our children at from the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Kosair Children’s Hospital, Louisville, Western University, Chicago Vanderbilt, Nashville and several other medical facilities and the only doctor that was aware of PBB and considered it as a contributing health factor was when we went to Ann Arbor University Hospital. I would think PBB contamination should be mentioned in every medical school across the nation considering the number of people that were affected, and considering how transient Americans are.

    I also have degernative disc disease, thyroid issues and have knee problems.

    My husband and I both were born and raised in southern IL and none of our cousins have children with health problems, yet all three of our children have significant health issues. I have two grandchildren and I pray they will be spared any health problems related to this incident.

  40. My husband and I just finished watching the movie “Bitter Harvest”.
    This is a heartbreak. I pray for everyone that has been hurt and made sick with pbb.
    Did all the milk and food stay in Michigan?
    We must have good food and drink in this country. We need leaders that make sure of this.

  41. I was born in 1971 and am not sure if me and older brothers were contaminated but all of us have problems with are stomachs and swollowing.All of us were to young to no of this pbb at the time but our parents did tell us of it in the 1980s.The thing is I purchesd a cabin just outside of mio mi about 7 years ago and while hunting in the huron natinol forest me an a friend came across a big open area with a perfect square of deep sand.The square of this sand is aprox 4 to 5 acers nicely leveld and built up on edges so we decided to ask around on what this spot was from locals that had lived there in the areasince the 60s an 70s.We were told by many residents that it is were they buried the cows that had pbb in the 70s for that area.Now I am not sure of all the facts but this info came from alot of residents and we did take a soil test that contained pbb from the site.There are many different stories abot how the cows were buried some say the hole was lined some say they just dumped them in there and some say they put a dye in the hole so if there was any leakage it would be detected.This spot is located on pennsilvania crossing off of mt tom rd just north of mio . I think it is a shame they would just bury them in our national forest and does the gov even monitor these sites today to see if there is any contamination leakage.

  42. I grew up in St. Louis, MI. The last 7 years, I have lost a 39 year old brother to Pancreatic Cancer, a brother of 48 to Colon Cancer and a Father to Colon cancer at 82. My mother has now been diagnosed with breast cancer for the 2nd time and has spread to her Lymph Nodes. My mother lives by herself now only a block from the pine river. When they were “cleaning” the pine river of it’s poison, all of our vehicles were covered with this film and it ate the paint off the cars… what did we get? We got a gift certificate for a free car wash! Now, my family is dying one by one of cancer… I have two other sisters who none of us can have children, and have had polups, and tumors. I blame the St. Louis Chemical plant for all of this. Who can I go to on this? What can be done for my family? All the cancer’s and dieses that can not be explained in young people now… it all falls back onto the chemical plant. Can anyone advise me where to go from here??

  43. I grew up just a few miles from where the contaminated animals were buried. I remember so well the talk about what was going on and people wondered why they chose kalkaska county to use as a burial ground. It was in the late 70’s, early 80’s that my sisters and I were told we had Spastic colons, known today as IBS. My mom has Lupus and has had for 13 years, my grandpa was diagnosed with PMR and polymiocitis in the 90’s. My son has Crohns disease…too many coincidentals. Never thought about a possible connection until now. Sad, sad, sad.

  44. The contaminated cows were buried in a specially constructed landfill near Kalkaska. The State of Michigan guaranteed that the PBB would never leak from it, but, monitoring wells were drilled outside of the landfill. Well guess what? I read an article a few years ago that said PBB is turning up in test groundwater samples. I don’t claim to be a psychic, but, at that time (1974), as a MI DNR employee, I scoffed at the guarantee.

    Let’s face it folks we are poisoning our environment in many different ways and we will all face the consequences in many different ways. It is just one of the many factors of mortality in the human population, and is related to our choices of economic level and lifestyle.

  45. the contamination of the animal feed occurred in May, 1973. The first symptoms began showing up in cattle in late fall 1973. The existence of the problem was not admitted publicly until mid 1974. Most Michigan dairy products and beef were consumed in-state at that period of time; not much was shipped out of state.

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