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Our Toxic World – Part Iv

By Dr Monique Thompson

On Sunday, the group Raising Awareness about the Bahamas Landfill executed a very successful silent protest about the landfill, also known as the “city dump”. From the number of individuals participating, it was clear to see that the Bahamian people are fed up and absolutely sick and tired of being poisoned, sick and tired.

In the last article I just named the most studied poisons and toxins that are produced and released into the environment when the landfill burns. These chemicals included dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), particle pollution, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide (CO; one that is familiar as an inhaled poison), and ash, with the former three – dioxins, PAHs, and HCB – causing cancer.

The content of this week’s article will firstly point out why I was so glad that this event was taking place, and second, why it was so very necessary.

Most of us understand and agree that burning the garbage is bad for our health as well as the environment. I want to pull you in just a bit more so that you can understand why this problem should have been corrected decades ago.

The toll dioxins take on the body and the environment is significant. All dioxins, which include some polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are industrial products or chemicals, are highly toxic. They can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, disrupt hormones and also cause cancer. Dioxins are also persistent organic pollutants that bioaccumulate. Bioaccumulation means that the toxin persists and builds up in the bodies of living things. They build in the foods that we eat, and then within us.

Ninety per cent of human exposure to dioxins is through food – primarily meat, dairy, and shellfish (like conch). The World Health Organisation (WHO) declares that the best way to prevent or reduce exposure is strict control of industrial processes to reduce the formation of dioxins. In the case of little Nassau, Bahamas, this would be to stop burning the dump.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)are a group of over 100 different chemicals. Exposure to PAHs usually occurs by breathing in fumes from agricultural burning, burning waste from the dump, and air contaminated by wild fires or coal tar, as well as from vehicle exhaust, cigarette/tobacco smoke. Exposure also comes from eating foods that have been grilled (like jerk chicken etcetera), and foods grown in soil contaminated with PAHs such as some flours and cereals.

A few PAHs are used in medicines and to make dyes, plastics, and pesticides. They are found throughout the environment in the air either attached to dust particles; water; and as solids in soil or sediment. The most significant illness developed from chronic, long-term exposure to PAHs is cancer. This is particularly true for lung, skin, and bladder cancers.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that is known for its lethal effects on humans and other animals that breathe it in. It is formed anytime fuel is burned, and leads to symptoms such as headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Small children, the elderly and persons with respiratory illnesses and heart disease are most susceptible to the harmful effects of CO poisoning.

Stay tuned for more information on why it is so important to have the burning landfill issue resolved!

• Dr Monique Thompson is the founder of and a Physician at Cornerstone Healing Institute, an integrative and holistic medical clinic. Call 356-0083 or visit www.chibahamas.com for more information.

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