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Healthy environments begin at home

Healthy environments begin at home

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The manufacture, distribution, transportation, storage and disposal of the tonnes of waste associated with the chemicals we use largely goes unnoticed by most of society, that is until something goes wrong, like it did three weeks ago in East Palestine, Ohio. A chemical spill and subsequent fire caused by a train derailment has residents worried about their exposure to substances like butyl acrylate, ethylene glycol and vinyl chloride. When vinyl chloride burns it creates dioxin. Dioxins are a group of fat-soluble compounds which can accumulate in the body fat of humans and animals. Exposure to dioxins can result in skin lesions, impact the central nervous and reproductive systems and lead to cancer.

While the magnitude of the impact of the train derailment in East Palestine or the notorious example of Love Canal near Niagara Falls some years ago may grab our immediate attention, many in the community also suffer adverse health consequences of exposure to chemicals in concentrations far below what public health authorities, workplace regulators and even general practitioners consider cause harmful effects. Today there are many tens of thousands of chemicals impacting upon our day to day lives from cleaning products, pesticides, petrochemicals, plastics, fragrances, paints, shampoos, personal grooming products, all kinds of volatile organic compounds that we inhale and absorb it seems almost every moment of the day. Exposure to chemicals in a major event like the disaster at East Palestine or by repeated low level chronic occupational exposure to insecticides like that experienced by many agricultural workers may trigger a condition called multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), also known as toxicant induced loss of tolerance (TILT).

Imagine that you have generally been in good health but now you experience a variety of non-specific symptoms of ill health when exposed to chemicals in concentrations far below what public health authorities, workplace regulators and even general practitioners consider cause harmful effects. Imagine how disabling and disruptive that could be if you could no longer tolerate everyday exposures, at home, work or in the community, to a wide range of chemicals.

Reducing our exposure to chemicals and the potential to suffer adverse health effects can begin with detoxing at home. Have a good look around and you may be surprised at the variety of toxic substances lurking around the house.

Click here for more information from Sustainability Victoria about how to safely dispose of unnecessary household chemicals


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