Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Invisible Health Risks

I was appalled by an article I read in the Sunday Times on 22 Nov 09. There was a mention of a finding that a chemical Bisphenol A present in polycarbonate, a material used to make baby waterbottle, plastic containers and electrical casings contain health risks to man in the form of erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems. These chemicals could migrate from the plastic to the fluid in the container when exposed to heat in many common scenarios: e.g. in hot milk from baby containers made of such materials. Such polycarbonate materials can be identified from the Plastic Identification Code number 7 and you can look at this website to know more about this code.

I have always steered away from consuming my food using plastic utensils, plates and bowls as I always believe the hot food will cause the chemicals from these soft materials to seep into the food, causing health risks. It was indeed enlightening to me to learn that strong plastic such as polycarbonates also do contain such health risks too when subject to hot heat. I have also since stopped the practice of recycling plastic water bottles to contain my drinking water after reading from newspapers years ago that those plastic will melt over time, fusing into the water you drink. I have changed into a stronger plastic water bottle and avoid pouring hot water into the bottle. I do sometimes contain my water in those plastic mineral bottles but I ensure that these bottles are not reused too often.

For long, I have always doubted the harmful side effects to health posed by man-made chemicals. The health risks of handphone radiation and the likelihood of the radiation causing cancer is still not conclusive though I will prefer to err on the side of caution. Just some weeks ago, I read on the internet that benzoyl peroxide contained in popular acne treatment lotions can actually slow down the healing process of the skin and cause the skin to age more! But teenagers suffering from breakouts may still use them as they are unaware of these risks!

As technology advances and man uses more and more chemicals to make his life easier, make him or her look better, we must ask ourselves whether there are health risks to us that we may never know? A myriad of complicated diseases such as cancers strike many men who adopt healthy lifestyles, which is a real shock to them and we must wonder whether such cancers are insidiously afflicted on them through prolonged use of chemicals in their daily rituals, which are unknown to them?

The eschewing of chemicals is not new. Societies have sprung up, preaching an ‘organic’ lifestyles via subsisting on organic food. But how organic an organic food is, we never know. There may still be preservatives and chemicals injected into these food.

As much as I want to steer away from chemicals and man-made technology to avoid the invisible and unconcluded health risks and dangers, I am so sad that I am not able to do so, as modern man. During work, I have to face the computer for over ten hours a day, going back home, I need to rely on my computer again to settle my email messages. I would need to communicate with others daily through the handphone which may contain so much health risks too. This is the way of modern living! The food I eat at work are laden with so much preservatives in order to make it tasty. Even the water I drink is artificial as it is made up of a proportion of NEWater, a water the Singapore government creates from the urine of I and you! Some people I heard on the street said NEWater causes many Singaporeans to lose their hair at a younger age! True or not, I do not know, but anyway, I would need to drink else I would die! And drinking bottled water here would cost me a bomb! Anyway I am already bald, so I do not care! Talking about hair, many hair loss sufferers are subjecting themselves to a number of chemical treatments on their scalp. Will these chemicals cause brain cancer too?

I admit I am becoming a bit paranoid but there may be some chemicals causing health risks to us that we never know until these risks are validated by science….with so many chemicals and products, it may be too late…..so prevention is better than cure!

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