Every day knowingly or unknowing we come across the harmful household products which contain poisonous chemicals. These chemicals often become one of the prime reason for chronic and acute health disorder. Here some examples of chemical hazards at home are provided to make people aware of it.
Some freaky facts:
In the last few decades some diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, thyroid problems, skin problem, nervous system defects, hyperactivity, hypertension, have been increased significantly. In 2012 14.1 million cancer were reported and 8.2 million worldwide people died. 57% death occurred from the less developed country. The number of a cancer patient will be increased up to 23.6 million by 2030. In every six death due to cancer in the world, one is Indian. Like Cancer, other degenerative diseases also increasing significantly. Now the question is what are key factors for the increase of this deadly diseases.
If we observe closely towards human life in the last one or two decades, we can see the changes. One of the most negative change is the use of the chemicals in the food products, cosmetics, and other household products like cleaning agents, personal care product, mosquito repellant, non-stick cookware, plastic, etc. Several studies show that these chemical exposures are one of the leading cause of so many diseases mentioned above.
WHO, USFDA, and other regulatory bodies are also working on it closely. They are taking guidelines to provide a safeguard to the people. But in India, we do not have such strong regulatory body in place. Hence we, ourselves have to be conscious of the potentially harmful chemical exposures and try to reduce it up to the possible extent.
Examples of hazardous chemical exposures:
As this is a broad subject, I will briefly touch on more harmful chemicals exposure source in the home which can affect our health.
Toxic chemicals in food:
- Antibiotics, steroids, hormones, etc in animal and chicken proteins:
To increase milk quantity animals are treated with hormones, hence in the milk, a residue of the hormones observed. This can lead to having breast and other forms of cancer. To prevent disease in farmhouse these animals and chicken are provided with antibiotics and steroids routinely. If one or two birds become sick and they are treated with antibiotics, then it is somehow justified. But every each is administered antibiotics and sometimes steroid on regular basis is a disaster with the food quality. Now it becomes a replacement for nutrition and sanitation. As per an article published in Hindustan times consumption of these broilers, poultry endangering human lives.
- Pesticides, Hormones, chemical fertilizer in vegetables:
The term pesticides cover a wide range of pest including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc. These dangerous chemicals are used on a daily basis. Sometimes we get contaminated with poison directly. In a recent study conducted in Delhi, some vegetable collected and tested and poisonous chemical observed in the sample more than the allowable limits. The main reason for this toxic chemical contamination in the main source of our food is our unorganized cultivation do not have any monitoring system and guideline in place.
As main sources of our food are contaminated, the mass population are impacted by it. So degenerative diseases are increasing massively. Like some other country of the world, in India, organic food is not widely available. Even if it becomes available there is no certification from a trusted body that plants are cultivated and grown up following organic cultivation procedure holistically. Another problem with cultivated vegetables is the use of hormones. Oxytocin is used for faster growth of the vegetables. This has a lot of negative impact on our health.
- Artificial coloring: Artificial coloring used in food are synthetic dyes. Maximum synthetic colors are found to be carcinogenic hence most of them are banned in the first world country. Whenever possible choose food without dyes. There is one different type of coloring, that is coloring of fruits and vegetable. These colors are mainly made of heavy metal and are highly cancer carcinogenic. These have several toxic impacts on us including food poisonous, neurotoxic, diarrhea, etc.
- Preservatives: Nitrite is a preservative which is mainly used to preserve meat. It helps to destroy microorganism. Nitrite is responsible for stomach cancer. Sulfites are used to preserve fruits and vegetables. Sulfites may cause a headache, palpitations, allergies, and even cancer. A trend is observed that fish and meat are being preserved by using formaldehyde. This practice is dangerous and life hacking. Even minor exposures may cause coughing, wheezing, watery eye, burning sensation of eye, nose, and throat. Long-term exposure can lead to cancer.
- Artificial flavoring: Artificial flavoring like MSG are used to enrich test of processed food are responsible for a headache, tightness in chest, and a burning sensation in the forearm and the back of the neck, allergy, etc.
- Use of plastic:
Use of plastic containers has been increased rapidly. We use a plastic container for storing water, food, vegetables, etc. This plastic may contaminate our food and water with Bisphenol A (BPA). Several studies show that BPA linked with heart diseases, early puberty in a girl, neurological difficulties, and certain type of cancer.
- Chemical in water: In chemically treated water, a residue of the chemical in the water have a negative impact on health. Unpurified water also contains certain chemicals which have a negative impact on health.
- Air freshener: Known toxic chemicals in air fresheners is formaldehyde, a highly toxic chemical, known as carcinogenic.
- Dishwasher detergent: Most of the dishwasher contains chlorine. Each time we wash dishes, some residue is left on them. Long-term exposure has a negative impact on our health.
- Furniture polishing color: Color used in furniture polishing contains petroleum distillates which may cause skin and lung cancer.
- Mosquito repellant: Chemicals used in mosquito repellant have a lot of negative impact on health like breathing problem, allergy, headache, etc.
- Cosmetics: Preservative may be used in used cosmetics to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, in order to prevent the product. Parabens used most commonly in the cosmetics are Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, and Ethylparaben. When we use cosmetic this is tropically absorbed. Some studies show that Paraben may contribute to breast cancer.
- Personnel care product: Personnel care product like toothpaste, soap, shampoo, body spray, powder, etc which are used to keep us hygienic. But eventually, chemicals used in these products are extremely toxic and carcinogenic. Sometimes cause allergy, wounds, skin problem, etc.
- Non-stick cookware: Some studies show that leaching chemicals at a higher temperature from the non-stick Teflon coated cookware are toxic and carcinogenic.
- Pollution: Due to carbon emissions from vehicles, Industrial waste, medical waste are polluting our environment with a lot of toxic chemicals. If this is allowed to continue, in future a massive disaster will be observed on community health. Industrial chemicals are left in the river, hence in fish coming from the river are with found with mercury and other heavy metals. These are causing several types of cancers, defects in the nervous system, etc.
If you value your health and want to give a healthy future to your child we shall try to look for ways to reduce or eliminate the use of harmful chemicals in our home and food. We should make a habit of reading product labels and verify it. Buying eco-friendly product and the organic food product is good to start to have the chemical safety. We can leave plastic water content and use quality glass content or stainless steel for it. we can replace toothpaste with meswak or neem branches for teeth brushing. Washing fruits and vegetable very carefully and thoroughly.
We are living in the world of chemical, becoming chemical free is impossible. But we have to make an effort to make our environment eco-friendly by using bio-degradable products. This way we can avoid a lot of diseases rooted from harmful chemicals used in household products.
We burn coils, vaporize some liquid or take any other actions to repel mosquitos, flies, etc from our household area. Especially in rainy season, keeping mosquitoes and other insects away from our household area helps us to avoid diseases like Malaria, Dengue, food poisoning, and other micro-pathogen contamination related disease. In one side, the mosquito repellent like coils, electric plugin, etc are effectively kicking minor insects like mosquitoes and flies off the house and help to protect us and our beloved family members from the said deadly diseases, on another side it has some significant negative impact our health if it is not used in a safe manner. Mainly used chemicals in this type of mosquito repellent product are tabulated below:
|Type of Mosquito repellent||Chemical used|
|Coil||A dried paste of Pyrethrin powder|
|Liquid vaporized by using electric plugins||Transfluthrin, a chemical of pyrethroid group|
Above chemicals in an allowable concentration in air for the certain period and using in a safe manner do not have a significant impact on our health. Several studies show that long-term exposure to this type of chemical may pose several impacts on our health. This impact becomes more prominent for kids, older people, and people already suffering from asthma, allergy, vomiting tendency, anxiety, and nerve related disorder. Findings from different research on the impact of the chemical on human are as follows:
- Coils: Burning coils release air particulate matter which may have some sort of impact on the kid’s and older people’s health. It may cause allergy, asthma, sneezing, headache, etc. Burning coil in a closed area may have a serious impact on our health like anxiety, nervousness, tremor, convulsion, distress, etc. It may reduce oxygen content in that area and sometimes may initiate a fire. Hence it is recommended not to use the coil. If such situation arises where the coil is to be used, then keep in mind that there should have well ventilation and chances of fire should be nil.
- Electric plugins: Liquid containing Transfluthrin is vaporized by heat which is generated by electricity. As per instruction provided in the label, first 30 minutes doors and window should be closed and after reaching in a certain concentration level door and window should be kept open.
- Following pre-caution should be taken during burning coil or using electric plugins:
- Keep away from foodstuff, empty containers, etc. The empty container of the liquid container shall be broken and buried away from the habitat. This is not poisonous for humans but poisonous for fish and other water livings.
- Avoid contact with mouth, nose, skin, and hand. If it comes in contact with your hand, wash thoroughly with plenty of water.
- Keep it out of reach of children.
- Maintain proper ventilation where these are used.
- Wear full sleeves clothes and long dresses to cover as much of your body as possible. This will reduce chemical exposure to your skin.
Mosquito repellent spray
- Mosquito repellent sprayer: In sprayer DEET or similar type chemical take roll to repel mosquitoes and flies. This is more poisonous than above two. So this should not be used in the bedroom, drawing room, dining area, etc. This can be used in the washroom or in such area where we usually do not go and stay for long times. During use some pre-caution also we should take. Like it should not come in contact with skin, and a face mask should be used, etc.
The exposure of this type of chemical in the human body has more prominent side effects on the body than coil and plugins.
An alternative method to be safe from mosquitoes, flies and other similar insects: With the start of summer insects are increased in the environment and spread diseases. It is not that they only harm us, some of them benefitted us also. Like bees help to germinate flowers, Some major insects eat some other minor insects, etc. Use of chemical on daily basis to repel them, harm us as well as the environment. It is poisonous for fish or other water livings. So we can use following safe methods to make us safe from the mosquitoes and the environment from this harmful chemical:
- Use of mosquito-net: Use mosquito nets to protect children, elderly and others who may rest during the day and night. Do not forget that Aedes mosquito (responsible for dengue) bite in the daytime.
mosquito-net attached with a window
- Covering windows with the net.
- Maintain cleanliness in the household area.
- Wear full sleeves clothes and long dresses to cover as much of your body as possible.
- Prevent mosquito breeding. Discard/ Destroy unused items and drain out water from various containers. Regularly change water and clean flower vases and other items. Empty coolers. Cover water storage containers.
- Household fixtures such as window and door screens and air-conditioning can also reduce biting.
- An electric bat can be useful to kill mosquitoes and files.