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Fixin' Healthcare

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Lifestyle Chronicles - Hazardous To Health

A multitude of substances hazardous to health are utilized in modern society. Regulations exist to prevent exposure to amounts that are known to be toxic and in most circumstances containment is a high priority. However, examples where hazardous substances can accumulate in nature include mercury in large fish and organic compounds in river sediments. And, little is known about long-term exposure to low levels of multiple chemicals or exposure of people who might be especially sensitive to certain chemicals.

California has passed legislation to try to measure if and how its residents are absorbing chemicals from common products. Whatever the results the database will be useful.

A study of construction workers in the Netherlands links low birth weight and birth defects to paternal, airborn exposure to organic solvents such as paints, thinner and cleansers. All levels of exposure to the solvents in the study were within Dutch regulations and occupational exposure limits established in the United States and Canada.

Dutch scientists analyzed food and found low levels of pesticides, flame retardants, non-stick chemicals, artificial musks used to scent products and phthalate chemical compunds used in plastic. The recent association of toxic E. coli with packaged spinach is further evidence of fragility within the food supply.

Studies have found organic pollutants in river sediment where run off will tend to accumulate in higher concentrations. Follow-up studies to the impact of Hurricane Katrina might yield some useful data about this issue.

Then, there are the examples of people eagerly consuming chemicals that are hazardous to health. The British Heart Foundation reported that half of British children eat a pack of potato chips daily and are ingesting the equivalent of five liters of cooking oil a year.

Be careful out there. Health has many facets.

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