It seems that throughout our civilization, there are products that carry harmful chemicals that most of us do not even realize exist until we are alerted to the harmful health effects. Yesterday we talked about Bisphenol A, but today we are going to talk about Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable and strong-smelling gas that is used heavily in the manufacturing of building materials, as well as being used in many household products. Products that use formaldehyde include particleboard, plywood, fiberboard, glues, adhesives, permanent press fabrics, paper product coatings and insulation materials. It is also used in fungicides, germicides and as a disinfectant. The problem is that beginning in 1980, laboratory studies showed that exposure to formaldehyde could cause nasal cancer in rats. In 1987, the United States Environmental Protection Agency classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen, meaning that there was a chance it could cause cancer. While you may think that formaldehyde is not something you need to worry about since you don't work with plywood, you would be wrong. Several synthetic fabrics, shampoos and cosmetics contain small amounts of formaldehyde. Also, when you burn natural gas, wood, gasoline and tobacco, you release formaldehyde gas.
Not buying products with formaldehyde in them is important, but if you already have them, a very effective and simple way to reduce formaldehyde levels in the home is to increase airflow. Open doors and windows to provide ventilation and levels should go down. This just shows that it is important for all of us to know what is in the products we buy, from the shampoos and conditioners, to how our houses are insulated.
-- There was no walk today since we had everything we needed for lunch and supper, and therefore no litter pick up. --
I read some bad news about water and the life in it recently. First comes the news that a recent study found that nearly 40 percent of all the freshwater fish in North America are in serious danger. Things are not getting any better, despite political quotes from our leaders to the contrary. In 1989, there were 364 species of fish in danger. In 2007, only 19 years later, that number has gone up to 700. Of those 700, 230 are vulnerable to further decreases, 100 are facing major extinction threats, 380 are seriously endangered and 61 species are considered extinct.
On another note, that clean water we all enjoy is beginning to run out. In the Baird household we catch rain for the garden, collect greywater to use in the home and outdoors and do not water our lawn, instead relying on the rain. Now, a recent documentary called FLOW says that within 20 years, the water supply of California will run out, and that is only the beginning. Drought, huge demand and other causes are creating a global crisis that could threaten our very survival. In our current year, water has become a huge commodity, worth $400 billion world wide, behind only electricity and oil. That is expected to rise and soon, clean water could be the gold of the 21st century. This is because the demand for water is far outstripping supply. The water is still on the planet and has not disappeared, but an increasing population on Earth is putting immense pressure on the supply of fresh water. Not to mention the fact that much of the water we have on earth has been polluted or diverted, or been poisoned by seawater.
Currently, over 1,000,000,000 people do not have access to clean drinking water, and every year 2,000,000 children die from water-borne disease. In the 21st century, unless measures are taken, that can be expected to rise.