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Why people should know about “Hidden Exposures”
Have you ever stood beside a perfume counter or walked down the detergent isle and felt a headache coming on? Have you ever started rubbing your eyes for no apparent reason? Maybe perhaps you might be reacting to something in the air environment. How would you know? Allergy tests are not always conclusive.
In Toronto, South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) and Toronto Public Health (TPH) took it upon themselves to warn pregnant women and potential parents about the Hazards of indoor air pollutants in a pamphlet called “Hidden Exposures.”
According to this publication, people are exposed to substances in the environment that are diminishing their reproductive health and the health of their children. We are already familiar with the dangers of second hand smoke but there is not as much awareness about less noticeable substances that linger in the air. We need to be better informed so that we can prevent sickness as much as possible. People are exposed to low doses of toxins on a long term regular basis from cleaning products, plastics, pesticides, paints and solvents found looming in homes, buildings and even your favourite restaurant.
Some chemicals can be absorbed into the skin but some (especially from sprays) can lodge deep in the lungs. Pay attention to people around you who may cough, sneeze or rub their eyes or complain of a headache. There may be some thing in the air.
So if this information has been put out by Public Health in Toronto, how it is that how is it that Hamilton Public Health has not come up with similar warnings.
This information from “Hidden Exposures” needs to be readily available in doctor’s offices and clinics and nurses offices etc. where expecting parents can read it while they wait. It is part of practicing preventative medicine and empowers parents to make healthy choices.
Toronto Public Health and South Riverdale Community Health center are practicing the “precautionary principal” Even if the research is not rock-solid; we need to be able to protect ourselves from short term and long term health problems.
The “Hidden Exposures” fact sheets make mention of long tem effects of different chemicals in the environment, which suggests that not only women and children should be concerned.
For instance some Plastics, paints and solvents give off fumes or VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) Solvents are found in hair sprays, nail polish, hair dyes, oven cleaners and many products that people take for granted and have used for years. Solvents damage the nervous system and cause brain dysfunction.
Pregnant women need to know that although exposure to solvents or VOCs may not bother them those mentioned will harm a fetus.
Our choice of what we use to clean our houses and vehicles can make a difference to our health. People are looking to health professionals and practitioners for help and information, especially when we come forward with symptoms and problems.
The “Precautionary Principal” can be useful to all of us. We can reduce the amount of hazardous substances we use and try to reduce our exposure.