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Monday, August 16, 2010

Toxic Chemicals and The Human Body...by John K. Beaulieu

Beware Of Aerosols
Both cleaning and personal care products come in aerosol cans.  I want to warn you of the dangers of aerosols in your home.  First, they send a fine mist of toxic chemicals into the air that is easily inhaled and absorbed.  Second, this fine mist settles, leaving a coating of toxins on surfaces where children crawl and play and adults eat and sleep.  Finally, many of the propellants used in aerosol cans are toxic themselves.  Vinyl chloride, one of the most common, can cause dizziness, lack of coordination, headaches, blurred vision, nausea, and death.

I read of a young man named Stuart who became dizzy and collapsed while spray painting bookshelves in his basement.  When his wife found him a few hours later, he was dead.

These chemical propellants are also highly flammable.  A woman names Laurie received disfiguring burns when the hair spray she was using was ignited by her cigarette.  Each year 5,000 people receive emergency room treatment for aerosol-related injuries.

Jimmy, 8, used a hammer and nail to puncture an old aerosol can.  The can exploded, hurling pieces of metal into his face and upper chest, cutting him severely.

When you weigh the short-term and long-term harms of aerosol products, I think the smart conclusion is simply to get rid of them.

Toxic Chemicals And The Human Body
Your body is a very complex, very fragile system of chemical reactions and electrical impulses.  When you consider a single cell breathes, uses energy, and releases waste much like your whole body does, you can begin to understand how even small amounts of harmful chemicals can affect the performance of the body's processes.  Chemicals enter the human body in three ways: ingestion, inhalation, and absorption.

Ingestion brings to mind the image of a young child opening the cabinet under the sink and drinking something deadly.  Well, each year nearly 1.5 million accidental ingestion of poisons are reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers.  The majority of the victims are under the age of twelve and have swallowed a cleaning or personal care products.  It amazes me how many deadly chemicals are stored under sinks or on bathroom counters and bathtubs within easy reach of young children.

It may surprise you to learn that poisoning by inhalation is more common, and can be much more harmful, than ingestion.  When something is swallowed, the stomach actually begins breaking down and neutralizing the poison before it is absorbed into the bloodstream.  However, when you inhale toxic fumes, the poisons go directly into the bloodstream and quickly travel to organs like the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys.
Many products give off toxic vapors which can irritate your eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and give you headaches, muscle aches, and sinus infections.  This process of releasing vapors into the air is called outgassing.  Outgassing occurs even when a chemical is tightly sealed in its container.  If you doubt this, simply walk down the cleaning aisle at your local grocery store and notice how strongly it smells of toxic vapors even though all containers are sealed tightly.

Finally, you need to realize the potential threat absorption poses.  One square centimeter of your skin, an area less than the size of a dime, contains 3 million cells, four yards of nerves, one yard of blood vessels, and one hundred sweat glands.  We've all heard the ads for nicotine patches and analgesic creams.  These medicines work by being absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin.  Even some heart medicines are administered through transdermal (through the skin) patches.
Any chemical that touches the skin can be absorbed and spread throughout the body.  This can even happen when you come in contact with a surface that was treated with a chemical days, or even weeks earlier.  I had no idea that my children could be harmed by crawling across the kitchen floor my wife had cleaned.  I thought we were being conscientious, not reckless.  Since we no longer have products which contain chemicals in our home, I no longer worry when I see my baby daughter crawling across the floor or putting her fingers in her mouth.  I know she is not absorbing or ingesting toxic residues.

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