Danger of Modern Living

  • Danger of Modern Lifestyle
  • Pesticide & Chemical Residues
  • Harmful Preservatives
  • Air Pollution
  • Harmful Blue Light

Danger of Modern Lifestyle

In our modern living we are surrounded with hazards of today’s lifestyle. It has created problems of environmental degradation that directly affect all of our senses. It has given us pollution, toxins, noise, odors & EMRs which bring physical pain and suffering. We are surrounded by hundreds of thousands of new synthetic materials many of which are highly toxic. Much of our water, food and air is polluted by chemicals that are not biodegradable or take many years to break down. Every day we are exposed to thousands of toxins that slowly accumulate in our bodies.

Modern houses are also full of harmful chemicals – right from lead present in paints to chemical laden insect / mosquito repellents to toxic air fresheners. Most of us are aware about pesticide contamination in soft drinks, pesticides in bottled water, Bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic bottles, antibiotics in chicken, trans fat in oils we intake, parabens & harmful fluoride in toothpastes, sulfate and parabens in the skin care and cosmetics etc. Limonene, a citrus-scented chemical found in cleaning products, air-fresheners, candles and foods can be extremely high in some of the houses. Limonene which itself is harmful for health, reacts with ozone to produce formaldehyde, a carcinogen.

One way it is toxic overload inside our body. Toxic load is a huge stressor to the immune system, as well as all of your other bodily systems, and even your mental state. Over time, hundreds of poisons accumulate in our tissues, causing numerous diseases, illnesses, and eventually, death. Hundreds of diseases can be linked to various environmental toxins, but most people are relatively unaware of the daily toxic load they are accumulating. Some of the most common sources of chemicals contributing to your toxic loads are:

  • Toxins ingested through the diet, including residues of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers, antibiotics, and chemical additives such as artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners.
  • Toxins like chemical additives such as chlorine or fluoride absorbed through the skin or mucous membranes from drinking water, showers, bathing or swimming.
  • Household cleaners, detergents, toilet-bowl cleaner is typically loaded with man-made chemicals.
  • Prescription drugs are one of the most harmful toxic load which we accumulate inside our body.
  • Most of the tea available in market are loaded with harmful pesticide & toxic residues. They contain illegal amounts of deadly pesticides. A recent study undertaken by environmental NGO Greenpeace has found the presence of harmful pesticide residues and unsafe levels of toxic chemicals in tea sold by leading brands across India.
  • Most mosquito repellents contain chemicals like pyrethrum and diethyltoluamide (DEET). Studies confirm that the prolonged usage of these mosquito repellents could pose serious health threats. Keeping your health concerns in mind, you can use alternative options which are natural and safe. Citronella, cedar, verbena, pennyroyal, geranium, lavender, pine, cinnamon, rosemary, basil, thyme, allspice, garlic, and peppermint are plant-derived substances that provide some repellence against mosquitoes.

Pesticide & Chemical Residues

Pesticides are chemicals used in agriculture to protect crops against insects, fungi, weeds and other pests. In addition to their use in agriculture, pesticides are also used to protect public health in controlling the vectors of tropical diseases, such as mosquitoes. But pesticides are also potentially toxic to humans. They may induce adverse health effects including cancer, effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems. Scientific studies of the potential health effects of hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides, allow them to be classified as carcinogenic (can cause cancer), neurotoxic (can cause damage to the brain), or teratogenic (can cause damage to a fetus).

A healthy diet begins with lots of fruits and vegetables, but some of your family’s favorites may contain startling amounts of harmful pesticides. Pesticides or other harmful chemicals might be present in the fruits and vegetables that we eat. These are primarily used by the farmers during the cultivation of crops and these may remain as residues and get stuck on the surface of the fruits & Vegetables. There are huge health risks associated with pesticide residues in our food.

Pesticides have grave effects on children and these can be measured in several ways. Children’s internal organs are still developing and maturing, so the effects can be seen and measured at present and in the future when they have grown up. The immediate effect is the blockage of important food nutrients for normal and healthy growth among children. When the excretory system of the child is not fully developed and yet he or she consumes fruits or vegetables with pesticides, his or her body may not be able to totally get rid of the pesticides. Effects of Pesticides on Adults When a pregnant woman eats vegetables contaminated with pesticides, the fetus can be exposed to the harmful chemical and cause birth defects. Pesticides can also be neurotoxins which can make a person feel light-headed, dizzy and confused, and it may reduce body coordination and ability to think in the short run. In the long-term, these can result in reduced IQ and learning capacities and in the worst case, can lead to permanent brain damage.

The vegetables that are heavily-laden with pesticides include lady finger, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, celery, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms etc. The fruits that have heavy pesticide residue include Apples, peaches, strawberries, Grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes etc. Fruits ripened with calcium carbide or acetylene gas put consumers at a risk of diarrhoea, headache, dizziness, intestinal disruption, mood swings and ulcers on the skin or even cancer when consumed over a long period of time.

Experts feel that the real threat comes from milk and its products like butter, ghee and cheese. Since pesticides adhere to fatty tissues in the body, milk, which has a high content of fat, is an ideal storehouse for toxins. In bovine milk, contamination comes through the cattle fodder which has a high level of toxins. When milk is processed into butter residue levels get magnified.

You can keep the chemical from entering your body by consuming organic vegetables. Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, and biological pest control. If you cannot afford its cost, make sure to select the vegetables that are least contaminated with pesticides or better yet, create your very own organic garden to ensure that you and your family can have chemical-free veggies whenever you want. This way, you will no longer worry about safety and health.

As consumers we do not have any control on the pesticides that is sprayed on fruits and vegetables in the farms but there are some quick do-it-yourself techniques that can help us get rid of the residues to a large extent. The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), released the Dietary Guidelines for India recently. The guidelines has introduced some simple steps which should be adopted by every household to remove the pesticide residual contamination. Following easy steps should be followed by in every home.

Washing

  • The first step in the removal of pesticide residues from the food products is washing. Washing with 2% of salt water will remove most of the contact pesticide residues that normally appear on the surface of the vegetables and fruits.
  • About 75-80% of pesticide reduces are removed by cold water washing. The pesticide residues that are on the surface of fruits like grapes, apples, guava, plums, mangoes, peaches and pears and fruity vegetables like tomatoes, brinjal and okra require two to three washings.
  • The green leafy vegetables must be washed thoroughly. The pesticide residues from green leafy vegetables are removed satisfactorily by normal processing such as washing blanching and cooking.

Peeling

  • Both systemic and contact pesticides that appear on the surface of the fruits andvegetables can be removed by peeling.
  • Steps such as concentration, dehydration and extraction from the raw product can further reduce pesticide residues in the end product. The net influence of processing almost always results in minimal residues in processed food.

Cooking

  • Animal products are also the major source of contamination for pesticide residues in human diets since the animals feed on fodder, which are sprayed with pesticides. Pressure cooking, frying and baking will remove pesticide residues from the animal fat tissues.
  • Dairy products: Boiling of milk at elevated temperatures will destroy the persistent pesticide residues.

Harmful Preservatives

Preservatives prolong the shelf-life of food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals by preventing their spoilage. Antimicrobials such as nitrites, nitrates, benzoates and sulfur dioxide destroy or delay the growth of bacteria, yeast and molds. Anti-oxidants such as butylated hydroxy toluene (BHT), butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA), and propyl gallate slow or stop the breakdown of fats and oils. Anti-enzymatic preservatives such as citric and erythorbic acids block the enzymatic processes such as ripening occurring in foodstuffs even after harvest. Natural substances like salt, sugar, vinegar and spices have been used as preservatives since ancient time. The majority of preservatives used today are artificial rather than natural. Several of them are toxic and several others have potentially life-threatening side effects. Researchers have reported that artificial preservatives such as nitrates, benzoates, sulfites, sorbates, parabens, formaldehyde, BHT, BHA and several others can cause serious health hazards such as hypersensitivity, allergy, asthma, hyperactivity, neurological damage and cancer.

Not long ago the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banned use of potassium bromate as food additive in wake of a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study flagging their harmful effects on health, including causing cancer. Currently in India more than 3000 different chemical additives are being used in food processing, which create havoc on your health. Busy lifestyle and rapid industrialisation have spurred demand for packaged foods, widening the array of proccesed foods that are loaded with artificial additives available in your supermarkets. Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or improve its taste and appearance. Unfortunately many of these enhancers are also known to cause cancer. Additives like BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), Olestra etc are being used in India, despite banning them in many countries due to side effects.

Natural food preservatives are, in fact, far more safer to use than the harmful chemical food preservatives to avoid all kinds of side effects of preservatives. Research has proven that several natural preservatives obtained from plants, animals, microbes and minerals contain antioxidant, antimicrobial and antienzymatic properties. Extracts of basil, clove, neem and rosemary are promising alternatives to their artificial counterparts. The need is to increase awareness about the harmful effects of artificial preservatives and recommend the usage of natural preservatives for better therapeutic efficacy, safety and preservation of substances along with improved general health.

You can be safer by being aware. Read all food labels closely to avoid harmful effects of preservatives. Prefer & eat whole foods or organic foods as far as possible. Pick foods labeled low sodium or reduced sodium. Do not assume that paying more or buying a product from a premium food store will ensure that the food product is free from preservatives.

Air Pollution

The unhealthy air reading is a kind of warning of air pollution that everyone should be aware of. The polluted air that you breathe in can lead to adverse effects to your body and can even bring up the high risk of heart related diseases. Inhaling of polluted air can let you suffer severe problems like asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and even chronic lung diseases. Air pollution today has become a serious issue for health and the major sources of this issue are burning of fuel-wood and biomass, contaminated fuel, emission of vehicle smoke and traffic congestion as well. In addition to this, smoke, smog, and even the particulate pollution are few aspects that lead to air contamination.

Several types of research conducted by reputed institutes under the subject air pollution has come up with a statistical report that says road dust causes 38% of air pollution, 20% due to smoke that comes out of the vehicle. 12% of air gets polluted due to domestic fuel burning and the industrial point sources have the 11% of share in polluting the air. The report has claimed that approximately 1 million people lose their lives every year due to the air borne diseases. Inhaling the air that is full of contaminants increases the risk of respiratory and heart disease thereby lowering the life expectancy by 3.3 to 6.3 years as well. This is why air pollution is regarded as the 5th largest killer in India and the high risk of getting affected are mostly the children and senior citizens.

Several studies have also revealed that the rising rate of respiratory ailment is because of the high level of indoor air pollution.

Air pollution is responsible for many health problems in the urban areas. Of late, the air pollution status in many cities including Delhi has undergone many changes in terms of the levels of pollutants and the control measures taken to reduce them.

Vehicular emissions and industrial activities are associated with indoor as well as outdoor air pollution in cities.

Prolonged exposure to pollution leads to acute respiratory infections and chronic bronchitis. It could also aggravate pre-existing heart and lung disease.

Air pollution affects your health very badly. Inhaling pollutants cause inflammation in the lungs and directly affects the heart and cardiovascular system. Particulate matter when inhaled, pass into the blood stream and cause damage to the heart and blood vessels. Researchers at the American College of Cardiology noticed that ultrafine air pollutants decrease blood flow to the heart and its pumping function. Prolonged exposure to pollution leads to acute respiratory infections and chronic bronchitis. It could also aggravate pre-existing heart and lung disease. Asthma and reduced life expectancy are also linked to short-term exposure.

Harmful Blue Light

Exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient light bulbs, can be harmful to your health. Staring at your mobile in the dark could harm your eyes. This habit can initially cause dry eyes, and strain your eyes. Direct glare of over 30 minutes can even cause irreversible eye macular degeneration, resulting in rapid deterioration of vision. Low intensity blue light from smart phones and televisions kills human retinal cells.

Scientists have previously discovered that blue light, especially at shorter wavelengths, can damage cells in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of our eyes. Blue light produces reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as superoxide radicals, in retinal cells. This can lead to cell death. According to a new case study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the bright light from your phone can totally sabotage your eyesight—at least for a little while

Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted. At night, light throws the body's biological clock - the circadian rhythm out of whack due to which our sleep suffers. Research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. But not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood, seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sunset.

Smartphone use can cause irreversible eye damage especially for children. Long term blue-light exposure may lead to juvenile macular degeneration and soon, a point may come when the eye cannot see real colors properly. While these conditions can be treated and prevented with regular screen breaks and exercises, hazards of accrued exposure to blue light are still relatively unknown. Research puts blue light as most powerful in suppressing melatonin, the hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle. Children are especially at risk when it comes to negative effects of blue light exposure.

What you can do

  • Don’t look at the bright screens of their smart phones in a dark room.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
  • It is also advisable for a person to follow the rule of 20s — every 20 minutes, stare at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will bring back your blink rate to normal and also relax the muscles in your eye.