Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Going Green: The insidious chemical wastes

Most chemical residues are absorbed into the ground water, rivers, lakes and oceans; whereas some are spewed into the air, eventually lacing the local food supplies.

Chemical waste, such as mercury, bioaccumulates in the food chains. It is taken up through the gills of fish and concentrated in the flesh. It can be dangerous to eat large quantities of big ocean fish, contaminated by mercury. In humans, mercury causes neurological symptoms, birth defects and death. In one international incident, a village of Minimata Bay, Japan suffered mercury poisoning and 52 people died eating fish contaminated by a chemical plant.

Where do these chemicals come from?

- 100,000 chemicals are being used worldwide

- 3,000 chemicals are added to our food supply

- More than 10,000 are used as solvents, emulsifiers, while preservatives are used in food processing

- 1,500 new chemicals are introduced each year

What are the most common toxins?

1. Pesticides, EPA: 60% herbicides, 90% fungicides, 30% insecticides which are carcinogenic  

Risk: Cancer, Parkinson's, miscarriage, birth defects, nerve damage, malabsorption of food

Source: Food and bug sprays

2. Mold and fungal toxins

Risk: Cancer, heart disease, asthma, MS, diabetes

Source: peanuts, wheat, corn, alcoholic beverages

3. Phthalates: used to increase shelf life of fragrances and soften plastics

Risk: Endocrine system (mimic hormones)

Source: plastic wraps, containers, food storage, hair sprays, deodorants and fragrances

Risks: Cancer, eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, memory loss

Source: Paints, deodorants, carpets, cleaning fluids, varnish, cosmetics, dry-cleaned clothing, moth repellants, air freshners, printer ink

5 Dioxins: Chemical compounds formed as a result of incineration, smelting, chlorine bleaching, pesticides manufacturing, burning of fuel and waste

Risk: Liver damage, cancer, reproductive/developmental disorder, severe acne, skin rashes, skin discoloration, heart disease, diabetes,endometriosis, early menopause

6. Asbestos: Insulating material widely used during the 1960s-70s

Risk: Cancer (mesothelioma)

Source: Insulation on floors, ceilings, water pipes constructed during the 1960s-70s

7. Heavy metals: arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum

Risk:  Cancer, neurological disorders, kidney failure, cardio-vascular diseases, Alzheimer's, foggy head, fatigue, blood disorders

Source: Dental amalgams, contaminated water and fish, unleaded fuel combustion, cigarettes, aluminum, cooking utensils, pesticides

8. Chloroform: A colorless fluid with a pleasant, non-irritating, slightly sweet taste used to make other chemicals.  It is formed when chlorines is added to water.

Risk: Cancer, reproductive damage, birth defects, dizziness, headache, fatigue, liver and kidney damage

Source: Air, chlorinated water, food

9. Chlorine: highly-toxic yellow-green gas

Risk: Cough, skin and eye irritation, sore throat, breathing problems, asthma

Source: household cleaners, living near an industry that uses a lot of water such as a paper mill

What are diseases linked to toxins?

- 1 in 3 people have cancer (more than 2 billion) \

- 1 in 8 women have breast cancer

- 17 million people have asthma

- 4 million people worldwide have Parkinson's disease

- 2.5 million people have Multiple Sclerosis

- 4 million people have Lupus

- 4.6 million people have Alzheimer's

- 40 million people have arthritis

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Suggested reads:

“Pink Slime” -- Finding Its Way Into American’s Ground Beef

Princeton University - Chemical Waste Disposal

Chemicals in Wastewater: A Growing Concern

The New York Times: How chemicals affect us


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I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.
Thank you!



  1. It's a frightening modern world and it could only get worse.

  2. Chemical waste is the hidden poison in our lives! A scary thought! Great photo of the shadowy fence line! Like the barrier between our crazy practices and natural living! Very symbolic for your post details!

  3. Good shot in which I appreciate being in the shade! The view is lovely.

  4. Makes you wonder if anything is safe to eat nowadays. The problem is... I love to eat!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. We have many dangerous products around us, sometimes it's scary to think about it.
    On the other side, your ocean picture is great!

    I'm visiting from Saturday Sareenity.
    Regards from Barcelona, Tito Eric.