Pollution in the Movies
Perhaps surprisingly, toxic pollution has provided the central theme in two major Hollywood movies: Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action . The 2000 movie Erin Brockovich tells the story of a California community’s battle against Pacific Gas & Electric for allegedly causing groundwater pollution resulting in extensive illness. [For more information on the pollutant at issue in the movie, the carcinogen hexavalent chromium, see www.atsdr.cdc .gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=10&po=4] In the 1998 Disney movie A Civil Action, John Travolta played a plaintiff’s lawyer based on a true story about some middle-class families who sued two corporate giants, Beatrice Food and W. R. Grace & Co., for allegedly polluting the groundwater in East Woburn, Massachusetts, where eight children died of leukemia. [For more information on this pollutant, Trichloroethylene, see www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=171&tid=30 ]
Look back at the discussion of proving causation at the start of Part Two. Using that terminology, describe the causation issues that had to be addressed in the real-life counterparts to these movies.