New Energy Efficient Fluorescent Light Blubs and Recycled Plastics
In part one of this article, I discussed the potential hidden hazards of hybrid vehicles. Part 2 talks about 2 other very commonly embraced “eco-friendly” options that may have a negative impact on our health.
There has been a large push by the government and environmental agencies to promote the switch to new compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs from the old incandescent bulbs. While the new bulbs do use substantially less energy they can be potentially harmful in 2 ways. First, they give off harmful UV and radio frequency radiation. Diffusers, which filter out the UV radiation, usually cover tube florescent lights but they are not present in the new compact bulbs. Most people know about the harmful effects of UV radiation and people with skin sensitivities maybe especially sensitive. A small number of extremely sensitive people actually become very sick when exposed to fluorescent light. CFL bulbs also produce specific radio frequencies called intermediate frequencies or “dirty electricity” that old light bulbs don’t. Dirty electricity has been linked to conditions such as cancer, diabetes and mood disorders. The good news is that the harmful radiation only travels a few centimetres from the bulb. I recommend replacing CFL bulbs with full spectrum light bulbs in places that they are close to your body or head. For example, reading lamps, stovetops and desk lamps. Additionally, CFLs bulbs are high in the heavy metal, mercury. It is used in the process that creates the fluorescent light. Breakage of these bulbs can be dangerous to your health and the environment.
Use Of (Recycled) Plastic
It is impossible to avoid plastics since they are used in almost everything. It is now well established that plastics contain chemicals that can disrupt hormone function as some of the chemicals can act like the hormone estrogen. More and more plastics are now being recycled and reused in various containers and building materials in an effort to be eco-friendly. Examples include plastic decking and upholstery in new cars. The problem is that these plastics can give off very potent chemicals when they “off-gas.” A recent situation I encountered was when my mother purchased a new car with “cloth” upholstery. Almost immediately she noticed a potent “new car” smell and developed a severe headache when in the car. When looking into what the “cloth” material was made from she found out it was from recycled tires. The recycled material was letting off potent chemicals that can make most people very ill and can disrupt hormonal function.
Another less visible example of the new use of plastic can be seen in the fermentation and storage of wine. In an effort to reduce the use of wooden wine barrels, many wineries are switching over to plastic vats. Just like the lining of plastic cans or plastics bottles, these vats contains bisphenol-A (BPA), a know hormone disruptor, which can leach into the wine. Some studies show that a bottle of wine can have 16x the amount of BPA then found in a soup can (which contains high amounts of BPA in its own right). BPA has been linked to neurological and hormone disorders and some experts feel it can be responsible for the increasing rates of infertility
The conservation of trees for the production of wood is very important however there are cases when it comes to food storage and processing where it is a better option than plastics. Almost every plastic material that comes in contact with our food releases a certain amount chemicals so it is very difficult to avoid. However you can reduce your exposure by switching all your plastic Tupperware and utensils to glass or wood. Even “BPA-free” plastic is been shown in a recent study to release some potentially harmful chemicals. Any plastic material will leach BPA as soon as it is washed, microwaved or frozen. The best approach is totally avoid plastics and food together; they don’t mix. Switch to glass and stainless steel for a safer option.
In this 2 part series we discussed examples of how making an environmentally friendly choice may have a negative impact on your health. I urge you to consider the potentially negative effects of EMR and plastics and try to reduce exposure in your home. I want to be clear that I strongly encourage reducing energy usage and emission production, making ecologically sustainable choices and protecting the environment. However, consider all technological innovations from the perspective of not just environmental impact but also the impact on your health. In most cases, they both align but not always, as discussed above. It easy to become caught up being environmentally conscious and reducing emission that we can lose sight of other equally important things such as personal and family health. My goal is to help you make the best choices to achieve optimal health and longevity. I hope you are now equipped with the facts so you can make the right choices for you and your family.
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