Category Archives: chemicals

Choking Ourselves?

via Daily Prompt: Premature

The air that we breathe in some places contributes to illness, alergy onset, sets off asthma, and, according some researchers, is now a cause of premature death. The Guardian report below is somewhat singular in focussing on China and India, but it makes the point that air pollution is a serious business. Truth is, no country is absolved of this, we’re all in it. The country that provides the coal, the oil, the petrochemicals, they’re right in it too.

It is a fixable problem. Renewables, especially solar, wind, battery are strong contenders to replace carbon energy sources. But what happened to walking, public transport, bicycles, car-pooling, reducing non-esential travel? These are just as critical in the whole scheme of pollution control as electric cars and solar power. The same can be said of consumption, buying stuff. Our material wealth may be choking us, literally. That is also fixable, reducing consumption is another strategy in reducing pollution.

So, it comes back to each one of us. There are no faceless people to blame, we’re all in it, time to face up to it and deal with our own lifestyles first. To set the example is more powerful than just complaining. Living what we say we believe is far more potent than asking people to do something. The other trick is not to be too self-righteous when one begins to adopt new ways, that just alienates people. The way to invite people into new patterns of living is to show how good it is, and by demonstrating how it pays off. The evidence is what will move people eventually. I suspect that most people simply want to see what works and how it works. We can do that where we are.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

15 Comments

Filed under chemicals, Economics, education, environment, life, mindfulness, nature, Science

Love is Infectious

via Daily Prompt: Infect

IMG_0057 (original).JPG

My love walking the beach.

When we fall in love there is a chemical cocktail that is released into the body, literally infecting us with those feelings we call love.

Being attracted to another stimulates the body. If you feel elated, over-the-moon, energised, then dopamine has been released in your system. It works for other forms of elation too, winning a prize, gambling, sport, and drugs. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical.

Intimacy, closeness, bonding, means that oxytocin is in your system. Oxytocin is released when it gets physical, all that hugging, holding, kissing, touching, staring into each other’s eyes. Oxytocin calms and eneables intimacy and bonding. Sigh.

If sex is on the menu, then testosterone is in the system of both sexes. Testosterone is higher in males, and higher in male saliva, it is believed that kissing increases desire in both partners. Sex increases testosterone in the system.

Pheromones, those chemical messengers, also play a role in love, our noses are key to how we interact with others.

These chemicals work at the intense falling in love/sexual leel, but they are also released in long term relationships. They also impact in the four types of love, so that family, sibling, pet, and friendship also include feelings of love as these chemicals are released.

They’re the things I want to be infected with, the things of love, the elation, the focus, the bonding, the intimacy, belonging, joy, and the energy. Imagine if that infected the world!

The Beatles sang “All You Need Is Love” it was considered a trite song by many, and way too idealistic, and maybe that’s so, but there’s nothing wrong with poetic aspiration. I really liked then, Iand I like it now. And I beleive that love is all we need to change ourselves, and therefore, in turn, to change the world. It doesn’t seem that difficult.

Paul,

pvcann.com

28 Comments

Filed under chemicals, community, life, love, mindfulness, psychology, self-development, Sex

In Memory of Karen Silkwood

via Daily Prompt: Radiant

fccaa4f63cb158cf3587d3ebf306e51b.jpg

My mother entered her teens during WW2, and as a consequence she enthused her children to know about it. In my own meanderings around the subject of the war I could not reconcile the use of nuclear weapons (depite the plea for shortening the war), I was deeply moved by the photographic footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I still am (one photo the evokes the same response is the image of Phan Khi Kim Phuc Running while burned by napalm). The results of Chernobyl and Fukushima are horrifying.

But the story that really got me was the story of Karen Silkwood which I first encountered through the movie Silkwood starring Meeryl Streep, and thereafter through reading. The story of how she raised the issue of health and safety at the Kerr-Mcgee chemical factory, and how she mysteriously disappeared on her way to meet a journalist. In 1974 she testified before the Atomic Energy Commission about her concerns. Silkwood was also suffering from the inadequate safety of the chemical plant where she worked – she said she was suffering from plutonium contamination.

Silkwood’s story told me then that the nuclear industry could be easily compromised (but then, which industry can’t be compromised?) by sloppy safety practices and the lust for profits and market gain. And look at the results:-

Windscale, UK, 1957 – Windscale 1 caught fire, the radiation reached Europe (200 cancer related deaths documented).

Sodium Reactor Experiment, USA, 1959 – 13 fuel rods overheated, the gaseous material that resulted was discharged into the atmosphere.

SL – 1, USA, 1961 – power surge caused by single fuel rod extraction, the steam explosion killed the three workers on duty that day, they all received lethal doses of radiation.

Enrico Fermi Unit 1, USA, 1966 – the first and only fast breeder reactor that overheated.

Three Mile Island Unit 2, USA, 1978 – nuclear reactor coolant escaped.

Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986 – massive release of radiation across the Soviet Union and Europe. Poor safety procedures during a scheduled maintenance operation resulted in the reactor suffering a series of explosions, followed by a fire which also accelerated the release of radiation.

Fukushima Daiichi, Japan, 2011 – and earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the nuclear plant, it overheated and suffered a series of explosions, and massive amounts of radiation were released.

Needless to say these are the big ones, there are myriads of small problems with radiation release due to reactor problems, but also from radioactive waste control problems. Currently the issue of nuclear waste rages as the state and federal govt. determine whether or not to place a nuclear dump at a small rural centre in South Australia, at Kimba (we stayed there last year, great little town). Of course, the community have been given all sorts of guarantees! But once you’ve understood Silkwood, once you’ve checked the serious nuclear disaster list and seen how most of them are human error issues,  guarantees don’t mean much. In my view, nuclear reactors = radiation in our environment.

I don’t know that I can stop the whole thing, I stay informed, I write to politicians, I bring it up with others, short of chaining myself to a fence in South Australia, that’s about it, but if more of us wrote and lobbied it would at least, if nothing else, alert our local reps to our understanding and concern. Guarantees don’t cut it! Don’t be fooled.

For those interested: https://antinuclear.net

Paul,

pvcann.com

2 Comments

Filed under chemicals, Country, history, life, nature, Nuclear, Science

This Toxic Life

via Daily Prompt: Toxic

Run, hide, stay in bed. They’re going to get you!

The video is a traler for the Sean Penn doco – it is confronting because it challenges us to look at what we use and how it effects us.

Toxicity is actually part of our lives, we can deal with it easily if we learn and take steps to minimise the effects of chemicals in our lives. But we do need to take stock of the things that do effect us.

Do you love that new car smell? Beware.

My first conscious moment of how chemicals affect could affect me was in the 1970s when I was sitting in my father’s car. It was a hot day, around 35c. The windows were up, there was no sea breeze at that point, and all I could smell was vinyl. I immediately wound the window down to allow air to come in and displace what I could smell. I didn’t know then that the sweet smell in my nostrils was vinyl chloride which is highly toxic. In the 80s I commented to a car repair guy that the windshield of my car often had a film on it, he said it was vinyl vappour. It wasn’t until the late 90s that some public comment was made to the effect of always leave your car window down just a little to vent the vinyl vapour.

Vinyl chloride was developed in 1863, and over the next sixty years it would be refined and used in a number of applications from aerosols, to car fabrics. It was in production in the 1930s and was already the subject of research by those concerned for health. One of the research statistics was a consistent record of liver and kidney cancers among those who worked with the product. Since then the companies using poly vinyl chloride or PVC* have developed a more stable formulation, or, in some cases, companies buying in the product have reduced their usage.

The year our two young sons wanted their bedrooms painted in bold and trendy colours, I set to and did it myself, never once thinking to move the youngest’s aquarium tank out while I painted. I used a new formulation of paint on the market, made by a top brand. I thought the fumes were extreme. The next morning the fish were all dead, and we pondered the effect on our own lungs.

When we were on the farm we went organic, I had read more than enough to convince me that herbicides and pesticides, as well as inorganic fertilizers were likely to affect our health. The research into the cancer risk through the use of some agricultural products is now publicly well documented, and by the World Health organisation. Some of our extended family have suffered from agricultural chemical induced cancers.

There’s been a whole range of building product disasters from petro-chemically based products to vinyls, to asbestos, cement dust, fiberglass, and chemically treated particle board. Many of those issues now thoroughly researched and most dealt with.

And then there’s the whole processed and fast food issue, Supersize Me, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead are among the many documentaries on food and how it affects us. The current issue is sugar. And then there’s cleaning and personal care products.

So, long story short. We have reduced as much plastic as we can, especially those products that are formed from any vinyl chloride compounds, mainly soft plastics. That’s not as easy as it sounds – tubes, packaging, paints, equipment, cars, clothing, building products – it is everywhere. But we are getting there and with the public and corporate awareness, vinyls are being  more responsibly produced and monitored, and vinyl chloride is much more stable today than it was three decades ago. We are using natural fibres, metal drink containers, glass where possible, organic products from foods to personal care products to garden chemicals. Who knows what effect these will have? I’m thinking, they’ve got to be better than vinyl chloride!

*Note: PVC is also my initial and in highschool my nickname was plastic!

Paul,

pvcann.com

9 Comments

Filed under chemicals, environment, Farm, farming, food, life, mindfulness