GMO Kick: Part 3- Solutions

The first part of this post is the important part if you want to know how to avoid GMOs. The second part is important part if you want to save the world from GMOs. But if you want the super short version, the picture says it all. Grow your own food even if you can only manage a tiny amount. Look for heirloom seeds, hybrids if you must comprise. Gardening, waiting may be less convenient than just going to the store whenever you need something, but it’s the only way you’ll know for sure what you’re eating.

The problem with GMOs is enough to cause insanity, but I take comfort in knowing that there is something I can do about it, something we can all do about it. Immediately after this comfort I am depressed by the knowledge of how many people are not doing any of these, but then I remind myself that it all starts with the choice of the individual. I am an individual and so are you and we have a choice.

In order to avoid GMOs, try to do the following:

(1) There are two labels that you want to watch out for. USDA (or other agency) certified organic doesn’t ensure much, but it does tell you that you’re looking at something that shouldn’t, at the very least, have GMOs in it. The None GMO Verified seal from the non-GMO project, a non-government group that inspects foods from provider members. View the seal here (http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/non-gmo-project-seal.html).

Unfortunately, neither label is an absolute 100% guarantee that there are no slight traces of GMOs. Nearby GMO crops of the same type you purchase can pollute even organic crops and still be USDA approved as organic.

(2) Almost all corn, and soy crops in the USA and Canada are genetically modified. A lot of cotton is and canola is genetically modified. Avoid those cotton seed and canola oils. Beet sugar can come from genetically modified beets. Unless you’re getting it from an absolutely reliable source then avoid these crops at all costs. Corn and soy is, in some form or another, present in virtually all processed foods. Unless it’s certified organic or a fruit or vegetable, it probably has GMOs in it.

(3) Nearly 80 percent of packaged foods contain GMOs. These need to have one or both of the labels mentioned earlier. Besides causing liver damage, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or corn syrup sweeteners come from GMO corn. Another toxic sweetener, aspartame, is also a GMO.

(4) Realize that the term “natural” on a food product is meaningless for determining an organic or non-GMO food product. It’s simply deceptive marketing.

(5) Non – organic milk and milk products are usually from cows fed GMO corn or soy. Even worse, one-third of commercial milking cows are injected with patented Monsanto GMO growth hormones called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).

If dairy is not labeled organic or grass fed, at least look for a labels that says no hormones or rBGH. Traces of pus or blood from rBGH cows’ udder infections is not nutritious. Meat eaters should avoid factory farm meats that are fed GMOs and injected with antibiotics. Look for organic grass fed.

(6) Avoid packaged cereals unless the logos from section (1) are present. If you have children, train them patiently to not demand those cereals in brightly colored boxes. Most are full of GMOs, even if they say “natural” or appear in health food stores.

Here’s a handy free shopping guide to help you maneuver food aisles without buying GMOs (http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/download.html).’

I got in an interesting debate with a couple of people over an article about whether our food should be GMO labeled. The first guy said started by saying that labeling would raise food prices. I can’t find the article, so I can only tell you the general outline of our conversation. A lady jumped in and said there was nothing wrong with processed foods and she said something about it being the food she trusted to feed her family. I almost vomited then, but I tried to explain what ‘real food’ was and that it was not the twinkies, chips or anything else that has all the nutrients processed out of it like the fast meals that only have to be stuck in the microwave. Just because it’s edible doesn’t mean you should eat it.

I don’t think I ever got my point across. The guy kept saying stuff like everything was technically a GMO. He called the process of cross-pollination and selective breeding the same as genetically modifying in a lab. He had several classes in bioengineering to thank for this. The lady at some point said that GMOs were needed to feed  the world. I told her that we didn’t need them and even if we did, they are not the answer. I didn’t have the health evidence that I do now, I couldn’t find anything more than probable health complications, and I’m not sure what exactly I told her, but it was more or less my gut instinct. They can’t be good because of how unnatural they are. Her response was that if I didn’t recommend GMOs then what was my solution to world hunger? It was a good question. If someone is going to complain about the answer someone else came up with then they better have a different answer. My answer is less convenient, but it’s still an option. I typed up my response on a word document because I couldn’t do it all at once, so I needed to save it and that’s why I still have it. Here is what I said:

Well first I’ll say that it’s not a snap your finger and it’s done answer. There are many things that have to change if we are to have a sustainable way of feeding people. GMOs are a short term answer for a long term problem. Because there are many things that have to change in our food system, I don’t have all the answers and they won’t be as in depth as they need to be because I’d need a novel in order to cover it all. Second, my answers aren’t something I can do by myself. It can only work if people are willing to work together. Third, it is my personal belief that the Earth doesn’t belong to us. Us as in people, as in people currently living on the planet and us as in humans in general. We’re sharing it with animals, insects, plants, everything else (which no matter how much we modify food we can’t live without. Our success depends on theirs so we should try harder to keep them around) and we’re borrowing it from the generations that are coming after us. People think that they can live whatever kind of life they want and never have any consequences and that just isn’t the case. Nature is not the problem. Humans are the problem. That being said there are a couple of major problems. Overpopulation is a problem. At some point it will be impossible to feed everyone. If we don’t run out of food then we’ll run out of clean water and air. We need to realize that and the sooner the better. Another problem is the meat industry. Cows were meant to eat grass and only grass despite what those big corporations tell you about their healthy diet of corn, soy and whatever else. Over 70 percent of the corn we use today is fed to cows. The other 30 percent is fed to humans, pigs and poultry. If we went back to feeding cows grass then it would free up the space of the corn that we’re feeding them and also the space of feedlot. Not only that, but we wouldn’t be polluting the water with our huge amounts of cow crap. Cow dung is actually supposed to help fertilize soil. The way our system is set up with cows here and crops over here and more specifically that most farmers grow corn and only corn is that the soil isn’t being fertilized properly. Chemical fertilizers aren’t fixing that and can’t fix it. If there are no nutrients in the soil then we can’t grow anything. GMOs won’t fix this.

They aren’t just growing extra corn to feed corn, but they’re putting it in gas. Is that something people should do if the world was starving?

We are actually overproducing food. The world produces enough grain to feed every person at least 3,500 calories a day. http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring01/denlinger/problems.html  Some say more than 40 percent of food produced in America isn’t eaten, which makes that about 29 million tons of food waste and that they say can fill the Rose Bowl every three days. Food scraps make up 17 percent of our waste in landfills. It seems to me that if we really cared about those hungry people we would at least stop taking more than our fair share and throwing it away.

http://www.culinate.com/articles/features/wasted_food

Once I read an article that said a quarter of the food sent to Africa was wasted because it went bad before it even got there. The problem isn’t growing the stuff; it’s getting it to its destination.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/weekinreview/18martin.html?pagewanted=all

That’s my first suggestion. Stop wasting. My next would be to start growing our own food. Everyone can grow something even if it’s having a cherry tomato plant or a blueberry bush, every little bit helps keep pressure off the food system, which means they don’t have to take such drastic measures to feed everyone. Also supporting local farmers help. This doesn’t help people in Africa where it’s dry and nearly impossible to grow things, but what we don’t use can be sent to help them.

http://www.naturalnews.com/025699_food_garden_life.html

I have read several articles that claim and have proof of the idea that medium sized organic and non-organic farms are the answer. They can produce more than the giant corporations who are responsible for the all the processed foods.

http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=8764

As far as what real food is, as simply as I can put it is fruits and vegetables. That’s my definition, but here’s a better one. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=pollan+happy+meals

Because I’m no expert and I wrote this late, late last night so I’m sure it’s poorly written at best I’m going to suggest a couple of things. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I’ve heard really good things about it. It should show just what these corporations that you’re trusting to feed your children will do in order to take your next dollar. There is a movie, but it’s horrible and does nothing to explain anything so don’t watch it. Folks, this ain’t normal by Joel Salatin. This book does a good job explaining what is wrong with the current food system. Food, Inc. is a movie. If nothing else watch this movie. It will change the whole way that you see food and it’s only a couple of hours as opposed to a whole book.

The lady had nothing to say after this. That left me with only one person to worry about, but interestingly enough just happened to work in the meat industry. He, of course, said what I said about the meat industry wasn’t true. Some of those people who work in the meat industry think they’re saints. Trying to argue with that wouldn’t have done any good, so I moved onto his next point, which was if the food were rotting before they got to the recipients, what could be better than growing the food where the recipients are? It’s a good point, but if GMOs are going to kill them anyway then what’s the point of that? Also, road infrastructure isn’t like it is here where we have roads to take you where you want to go. Harvesting and transporting would still be a problem. I’m sure we could still be discussing the subject now, but I said that we may have to agree to disagree and gave my last response. I don’t let things go, so as long as someone says something then I’ll say something back. Luckily, this guy was the bigger person and he let us go.

Advertisements

GMO Kick

I’ve been reading a lot about food lately and how much are farming practices, eating habits and thoughtlessness when throwing away food really affects our environment. I talked about the meat industry thinking that, that was all I wanted to talk about food, but it still keeps coming up in my mind, so I guess I’m going to start listening. Right now it’s time to talk about Genetically Modified Organisms.

Some of you may have seen my lovely video about the research of their affects. You can see Monsanto’s response.

Scientists have been working on creating these things since the 1900. Monsanto was created in 1901 and is known for it’s production of Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, and dioxin. The discovery of DNA wasn’t discovered until 1953, so I can’t imagine that they were doing anything extremely productive or even knew what the heck they were doing until then. Even then they were mad enough to just start poking around without an thought for the repercussions.

In 1973, some scientists came up with genetic engineering, which led to DNA cloning, an important aspect in making GMOs. In 1980, the GMO experiments were well underway and corporations were already applying for patents. Think about this. They have patents. Patents something found in nature, like corn. They have altered the DNA for something found in nature so much that they need a patent for it.  People can’t own corn. Corn is the earth, it’s not our to own, but yet they own DNA to make the corn.

Supposedly, GMOs went through extensive testing to make sure they were healthy for consumption. They were approved by the FDA in the 1990s.

Antibiotic resistant tobacco was the first crop to be introduced.

The first GMO food crop to be introduced were tomatoes. Their special powers were the ability to be firmer than the average tomato.

In 1998, the European Union demands GMO food must be labeled. Australia, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Russia followed in 2000 by passing laws requiring labels. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan required special labeling. And many countries have completely banned GMOs or have suspended their use until the full environmental and health effects of these crops can be better researched.

If you notice, America is no where in any of these categories. Communists care more about the health of their people than our government that is supposed to be working for the people, that is decided by the people.

In 2000, the percentage of countries producing GMOs were:

  • United States – 68%
  • Argentina – 23%
  • Canada – 7%
  • China – 1%

Roughly 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S.

Monsanto made promises to feed the world and one after the other those promises are falling through.

Not surprisingly, these ‘crops’ are killing insects, amphibians, birds and GMO crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the US. Roundup herbicide has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses. And you may have heard that they’re supposedly creating superweeds. This article goes on and on about the havoc Monsanto is wreaking, knowingly, and not taking accountability for. Please check it out. And interestingly enough, there was a leap in obesity around the time these GMOs came out. Of course, high fructose corn syrup and palm oil also came out about this time, but its interesting just the same.

You can find more statistics here This site breaks down the European laws for GMOs and GMO products. It would probably only be helpful for Europeans.

Luckily, here is the one for North America.

GMO study

I’m running behind on my blogging. For the moment, I no longer have time to do all the research that it takes to keep up this blog. The problem is that I’m learning about things that I can’t be silent about. This happens to be one of them. So I’m going to try something different. I often stumble onto these things, so as I learn about them I’ll give you a link. You can check it out if you wish. Sometimes this will come with a picture. Today it comes with a video.


Watch it. You decide what you believe. Do the extra research to figure out both sides of the argument. Remember that more money than we can count is involved in these controversial cases, so there’s a lot at stake to make something look better or worse than it is. All I can say is this video is pretty damning evidence.

Getting Connected 2: Producers

Producers are at the very bottom of the food chain. They produce their own food, hence the word producer, by processing sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into sugar/glucose. The process is called photosynthesis. For this reason, they are the most essential thing on the planet. Without these humble life sustainers, there would be no other living thing on Earth. Everything we put in our mouth, in some form, came from a plant. Even totally carnivorous animals, such as lions, need plants because their prey are plant eaters.

Food isn’t the only reason why plants are vital. They act as filters for our soil, water and air. They give us air by converting the carbon dioxide that we breathe out into oxygen so we can breathe it back in. We couldn’t even breath with these things. They give us shelter. About 90 percent of homes today are made from wood whether for just the structure or the whole thing. Trees, even dead ones, can be homes for up to 1,000 different insect species. Small animals also make their homes in these trees.

http://continuingeducation.construction.com/article.php?L=5&C=645&P=1

Around one-fourth of our prescription medicine has some kind of plant origin. Native Americans used up to 2,000 plants species for medicine.

Ingredients for cosmetics often come from plants. As we also know corn has become an ingredient for everything. Aloe vera and jojaba are common ingredients in cosmetics as well.

Anytime humans are involved in any part of nature bad things happen.  Exotic species is a good example of this. Sometimes the species are introduced on purpose to help balance out the overpopulation of something else. This always ends badly. Sometimes they’re brought over by people who are traveling by boat or something. The rats that traveled by way of ship and brought the black plague with them is an example of this. Sometimes they’re introduced by idiots. Like the people who buy those exotic snakes and then they realize, like all living things, that snakes grow and then they release them into the wild. Even exotic species of plants are an overwhelming problem. Native species often don’t have the necessary strengths needed to compete with the exotic species so they’re overrun by them.

Habitat loss is the main problem. Animals and insects who mostly depend on plants for habitat, so if we cut it all down where are they supposed to go? It drives me nuts when people complain about animals in their yards or in their house because it’s like where else are they supposed to go? We’ve ruined just about every place they could go.

Recreational hobbies are a destructive force when it comes plant life. Bulldozing down the trees, digging up the grass to build a structure, even a small one, demolishes some kind of plant life. There is no way around it. Even something as insignificant as a blade of grass is important. Everything from football stadiums to a tennis court to the extra roads needed to get to that place will have an effect on the environment.

Why is grass so important? You’d be surprise. I know that I was when I learned that on a hot day a lawn of grass is 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil. Like other plants, it filters drain off, reduces erosion, absorbs noise, traps allergens and 2,500 square feet of lawn absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases enough oxygen daily for a family of four to survive.

http://www.floridalawn.com/greengrass.html

It is also the main component of the diet for grazing animals, which we tend to like to eat. We may want to keep something around to feed them.

The bottom line is producers are essential. We should do more to protect them. Our survival depends on it.

Getting Connected 1

Every single living thing on this planet, in the universe is connected in one way or another. It would seem as people the more we use technology the farther we get from this concept. It’s becoming a concept so foreign that it seems impossible for people to grasp. We’re making decisions on a whim without a second thought of what destruction it causes.

As humans we have this fantasy that we can live without consequence that we don’t depend on anything, that we own everything, that everything lives for us.

Boy, we are mistaken about that. We can’t do anything but barely wipe drool from our chins. What? Just because we can though a couple of metals together, wire some wires and make some technology, which in the grand scheme of things is just about completely useless, we think we’re God? Technology is an impressive feat to be sure, but it doesn’t feed us, create life, well I guess it does now that we can create life in petri dish but even that, sooner or later, will become our demise. Humans can decide nothing that will not end up being our downfall.

So, how exactly are we all connected? It’s called ecology, the study of the interactions between all living and non-living things.

Ecology is organized into five basic levels.

The first level, the smallest level, is the individual. It is any living being.

The next level is the population. It is a group of individuals of a specific species that live together in a geographic location.

The community is then all the living beings of all species that live in a specific area.

The ecosystem refers to all non-living and living facts that live in a specific area.

And lastly, the biosphere is the part of the Earth that is inhabitable by any living thing.

Then there are the organisms and their different functions within the ecosystem and this is called the food chain.

It starts with the producers, which are plants. Producers get their energy from the sunlight. Consumers are the rest of the food chain.

Consumers that eat the plants are called primary consumers or herbivores. The animal or bird that eats the primary consumer is called a secondary consumer. The animal or bird that eats the secondary consumer is called a tertiary consumer. At each level energy is lost.

 

Carnivores only eat meat. They eat other animals. That makes them secondary or tertiary consumers.

Omnivores eat both plants and meat. So when a squirrel eats acorns or fruits, it is a primary consumer; but, when it eats insects or baby birds, it is a secondary consumer.

Decomposers are the cleanup crew of life. They’re just carnivores and herbivores that like their food already dead. Like maggots, bacteria, fungus, earthworms and other scavengers.

The food chain can also be displayed as a pyramid with the producers being at the bottom with the biggest population and the carnivores being at the top.

The loss of energy at each trophic level also explains why there are usually fewer organisms in each higher trophic level.  The total number of plants in a particular area would generally be higher than the number of herbivores that the plants support and the number of herbivores would be higher than the number of higher order carnivores.

All of this may seem trivial, something you learned in fourth grade and some of it kind of is, but it’s the basics and foundation of what I’ll be talking over the next few posts.

Greener Prisons

The prison system is a very inefficient system.  Society and laws are set to bring nothing but a vicious cycle and unnecessary waste. Prisons should be the worst place on earth. I’ve heard of people going out of their way to get in trouble just so they can get a free meal and have a place to stay.  A free ride for criminals is the last thing prison should be. I’ve heard that prison is hell on earth. I think prison systems are interesting, I think the prisoners are interesting, all of it I find quite interesting, so I watch shows about it from time to time. They say it’s the worst place on Earth, yet they keep coming back. I have a “but” coming next time I post, but for now, I have this “but” some people go back just because it’s the easy way out. That shouldn’t be happening and if it does it shouldn’t be supported by the taxpayer’s dollar. It’s prison not a vacation. They shouldn’t have any luxuries. If they do, they should be the ones that pay for it. They shouldn’t be a burden to society. They should be working to pay off their debt to society (I’ll be talking more about this on Monday).

In 1975, it cost a taxpayer $200 to cover their part of the criminal justice budget. Now it cost $1,200. http://www.nonewprisons.org/prisons/ In 2007, states spent more than $49 billion to feed, house, clothe, treat and supervise 2.3 million offenders, the Pew Center on the States reported this year.

Partially, we can thank the war on drugs. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard a lot stupid things came from this ‘war.’ I won’t go into all of them, but the enforcing of these laws takes money. A lot of it and this extra money often come from social programs that do more good than prison. I don’t doubt for a split second that these drug related offenses shouldn’t have some kind of punishment especially for those who sell to kids, but also for those who sell or make them and even those who use them. But non-violent offenders shouldn’t be put with violent offenders. It creates a whole array of avoidable problems. If we ever want to solve a problem that arrangement has got to go. Whatever it cost to put them in the government’s custody, whatever the cost of damage should be what it cost them to get out. Instead of putting them in jail or prison to soak up more money they should have to work off the cost. Drug dealing, stealing, anything like that is usually just a way that people can make easy money. For whatever reason, maybe they couldn’t find a decent paying job or maybe they just didn’t want to have to work harder, they turn to crime. Making them work would show them A, they can make the money if the work enough, B, it may give them a new skill set that they use next time they need work, and C, they should stay out of trouble because they don’t want to have to do that kind of work again. The intensity of the work could depend on the seriousness of the crime.

Some studies are suggesting that environmental issues, not the nurture from the nature vs. nurture part of the debate, effect crime rates. It’s been pointed out several times about the poorer neighborhoods often having more landfills, pollution pumping factories, etc. The pollution is now being pointed at for because the toxic chemicals coming from these places may be responsible for learning disabilities and behavior problems.

The fact is that with our current system no one is winning. I used to think that it was their choice and it landed them in prison. Was that my problem? No. At least it shouldn’t be, but our society, all of us, is having a hand in creating this problem. Making criminals be responsible for their own actions seems like a reasonable answer, but it’s condemning them to a vicious cycle.  Society helped them give in and now we have to get them out.

The overpopulation of prisons is a social problem, but their extreme waste creates environmental ones, too. Alabama is one of the states that have had waste management issues. Their overpopulated prison generated twice as much waste than the local water treatment plant could handle. The results were extremely high levels of toxic ammonia, fecal coliform, viruses, and parasites into local streams and rivers. When raw sewage hit clean water, it sucked up the available dissolved oxygen to aid decomposition. That led to asphyxiation of aquatic plants and animals that depended on that oxygen.

California has had a host of problems. Since 2000, eight of California’s 33 prisons have had major water pollution citations.

The disgusting list goes on and on.

We can’t fix the social or environmental problem in a day, but here are some systems that are working to fix their environmental problems.

This article features Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Washington. It talks about their compost, they compost 100 percent of their food wastes, raise bees, grow organic tomatoes and lettuce and recycle shoe scraps and have it turned into playground turf.

A convicted murderer is pictured turning the compost, a former drug addict and attempted robbery convict is in charge of the bees.

Cedar Creek, in the heart of a forest, feels more like an outdoor retreat than institutional lockup. Most of the 400 inmates are in a work program, putting in six to eight hours a day.

Cedar Creek uses 250,000 fewer gallons of water a year, saves $6,000 to $8,400 annually on garbage bills and avoided a $1.4 million sewage treatment plant upgrade.

Indiana Department of Corrections installed water boilers that run on waste wood chips, and built a wind turbine at one prison that generates about 10 kilowatts an hour and saves $2,280 a year.

North Carolina’s Department of Corrections switched to chemical-free cleaners and vegetable-based inks. This summer, because of a water shortage, inmates converted 50-gallon pickle barrels into small cisterns that capture rainwater.

Under a state mandate to reduce energy use, the Oregon Department of Corrections replaced old appliances with energy-efficient ones, installed solar water heaters and used a geothermal well to heat water. It also modified washing machines so they could reuse rinse water to wash about a million pounds of clothes a month.

At Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton, Ore., inmates recycle scraps from old prison blues to make diaper bags for women’s shelters and dog beds for animal shelters.

Some prisons are alternative energy collection with solar and wind power.

Although most of these changes are being made to save money, I’m still thankful for all these improvements. Would I rather there be less people in prisons? Yeah, I would. I don’t think that change is even close to being made yet, so for now I’ll be content with these. I also think that we could be doing a lot better.

Chemicals

I use the word ‘chemicals’ a lot, especially when talking about food or something that we use every day. I tell you that they’re dangerous without ever going into detail about why or how. Today I will do that. Whenever I say chemicals, I’m usually talking about something toxic, dangerous, or just not very good for us, but everything in the physical world around us is made of chemicals. The earth we walk on, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the cars we drive, and the houses we live in are all made of various chemicals. Living organisms such as plants, animals, and humans are also made of chemicals.

The problems usually come with chemicals that are man-made. Like everything else, we just can’t help, but reach into the pure cookie jar, take out something that isn’t ours and turn it into something we shouldn’t. Some of these include chemicals in drugs, cosmetics, workplace chemicals, household cleaning agents, and so on. Granted there are natural dangerous chemicals like arsenic. They are found in our food and air. There are far more natural chemicals in our environment than man-made ones, but both man-made and natural chemicals can have poisonous effects.

Amount or dose entering the body, toxicity of the chemical, removal from the body, and biological variation are all things that will influence the degree of poisoning caused by a chemical.

The first two I’ll talk about today and the second two I’ll talk about tomorrow.

The amount or dose of a chemical entering the body is probably the single most important factor which determines whether a chemical will cause poisoning. The amount of a chemical which causes poisoning depends on the chemical.

Water, for example, cools the body and quenches the thirst. Normally, water would be classified as a harmless chemical. But if, for instance, someone drank not just one glass, but many glasses that were being consumed one after the other non-stop, a point would be reached where beneficial effects would disappear and harmful effects would start to be noticed. In more severe cases, this kind of poisoning causes convulsions and seizures. There are reports of such poisoning in small children and in psychiatric patients. And yes, some people have even died. This lady and this guy are some proofs. The only difference between water being harmless or harmful, is directly related to the amount consumed. This relation is true for all chemicals regardless of whether they are natural or man-made.

 

Toxicity is a measure of the poisoning strength of a chemical. Chemicals that are only slightly toxic require large doses to cause poisoning and vice versa.

Toxicologists often use animal tests to determine whether small or large doses of a particular chemical cause toxicity.

There is a tendency to think of chemicals in terms of those which are poisonous or toxic and those which are harmless. These categories are used for convenience, but they imply that toxicity or its absence is an all-or-nothing property of a chemical. All chemicals can be toxic. It is the amount or dose taken into the body that determines whether or not they will cause poisonous effects. Poisoning, then, is caused not just by exposure to a particular chemical, but by exposure to too much of it.

Many chemicals which enter the body are excreted unchanged. Others are broken down. The breakdown products may be more toxic or less toxic than the original chemical which entered. Other chemicals still are stored temporarily in body organs and are removed over a short period of time. Eventually most chemicals and their breakdown products are removed as waste in the feces, urine, sweat or exhaled breath. A few chemicals such as graphite or silica dusts can be inhaled into the lungs where they lodge for many years and may never be completely removed.

As a general rule there is less risk of chemically caused disease if the body can break down the chemical into a less toxic product or rapidly remove the chemicals from the body.

Several characteristics of the exposed person or animal can influence the degree of poisoning which occurs. Age, sex, and individual susceptibility are some characteristics that can influence the degree of poisoning that occurs.

A one-time exposure to relatively large amounts of the chemical can overwhelm the body. The ill-health effects caused by one-time, sudden, high exposures are often called “acute toxicity” effects.

Inhalation of high concentrations of acid vapors might cause serious burns of the mouth and airways leading to the lungs, skin contact with substantial amounts of certain organic solvents that are absorbed through the skin may cause dizziness and nausea, or inhalation of dusts can cause irritation of the respiratory tract, dryness in the throat, and coughing are just some examples of acute toxicity.

Chronic toxicity is pretty much the opposite. It’s repeated exposure over a long period of time resulting in poisoning. It’s exposure from day after day over many years. The levels of toxicity may be too low to produce acute toxicity, but still can do damage as it builds up over the years.

For example, repeated exposure to dusts containing quartz can cause scar tissue in the lungs. This leads to severe and permanent lung damage or scarring.

What else do we know about acute and chronic toxicity?

Like I said before, almost all chemicals can eventually harm you in some way or another, but the adverse health effects caused by the chemical in the two types of toxicity are often quite different.

Acute toxicity

For most chemicals, more is known about the effects of acute toxicity than chronic toxicity.

In most cases, much more is known about the acute toxicity of a chemical than its’ chronic toxicity. The understanding of acute toxicity usually comes from studies with animals exposed to relatively high doses of the substances. Accidental overexposure, spills and emergencies have added to our knowledge of acute toxicity in humans. The health effects may be temporary, such as skin irritation, sickness or nausea, or they may be permanent: blindness, scars from acid burns, mental impairment and so on.

Acute toxicity is often seen within minutes or hours after a sudden, high exposure to a chemical. However, there are a few instances where a one-time high-level exposure causes delayed effects.

Chronic toxicity

Unfortunately, the knowledge we have about chronic toxicity also comes from animal experiments. Scientists have also learned from studying groups of people occupationally exposed to a chemical for many years. The resulting disease occurs only because the exposure has taken place repeatedly over many years. Cancer is an example of what could happen as a result of chronic toxicity. Although there is no real proof, it is said that a one-time exposure won’t automatically cause cancer. Most of the evidence supports this conclusion.

Toxicity is a measure of the poisoning strength and is an unchanging characteristic of a chemical. Hazard is not the same. It is a variable feature of a chemical. Hazard is the likelihood that a chemical will cause poisoning, given its poisoning strength and the amounts and manner in which it is used, stored and handled. The toxicity of a chemical cannot be changed, but the hazard it presents can be controlled and minimized.

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/poisonou.html

Just so you know, I’ve been having a little bit of trouble coming back from the animal cruelty topics. It’s kind of like, what now? I don’t feel like I should keep talking about them. I’ve said what I needed to say and I’ve shared just about everything I know, but then again it’s kind of like I can’t get my brain focused on anything else. It has given this overwhelmingly helpless feeling that I just can’t stand.  Every topic I have in mind is so broad that I don’t know what I want to say or how I want to say it. If you have any suggestions on what you want me to talk about or any questions that have to do with the broad range of things this blog centers or something you want to try to find the answer for then feel free to leave a comment. Thanks!