Category Archives: Health

The Health Impact of Cockroaches

A species of cockroach Periplaneta japonica discovered for the first time in United States and identified in Manhattan can not only survive in the warm indoors but also in freezing temperatures of the outdoor.

This is a result of the high reproductive rates of the roaches that will spread diseases and cause allergies that will trigger asthma. There are about 4,000 different named species of cockroaches in the world.

The saliva, droppings and decomposing bodies of cockroaches contain allergen proteins that are known to trigger allergies and increase the intensity of asthma symptoms, especially in children. They can spread 33 kinds of bacteria, 6 kinds of parasitic worms and 7 other human pathogens. They pick all kinds of germs on the spines of their legs from bathroom floors, rodent nesting areas and sewage.

In a recent study of 937 children of seven cities, allergens from common cockroaches caused more serious reactions in children with asthma than the dust mite, dog and cat allergens.

There are a number of pesticides used widely to control and kill the cockroaches. However, care must be taken to avoid residential exposure to pesticides as these chemicals are hazardous for health. Many of these pesticides trigger asthma attacks and cause developmental disabilities.

Pesticide sprays should not be used to control a pest problem. Baits and boric acid are safer and more preferable forms of treatment and also limit the level of human exposure to pesticides.

People can extenuate cockroach problems and protect their health, home and family in following a few measures.

  • Don’t allow dirty dishes to accumulate in the sink for a long time.
  • Remove garbage from the home on a routine basis and vacuum regularly.
  • Store food in airtight containers and avoid leaving food open.
  • Seal cracks and gaps in walls, floors and openings to prevent pest entryways. Also, check for seal gaps around plumbing, wall outlets, and switch plates.

Following these preventive measures will not only prevent the entry of cockroaches but also lead to a hygienic and healthy life.

The Menace of Smog

NHT- Blog- XX- 17 Jan 2014Breathing smoggy air can be hazardous as smog contains ozone which can harm our health particularly if it has raised levels in the air we breathe. Smog occurs mainly because of air pollution and can be defined as a mixture of various gases with dust and water vapor.

Burning of the fuels leads to the pollutants or gases released in the air that forms smog. The smog that enters the atmosphere consists of over 100 chemicals that come from different sources. Smog includes particles such as carbon monoxide, dirt, soot, dust and ozone.

Smog is mainly caused by heavy traffic, high temperatures, calm winds and sunshine, automobiles, fires, waste treatment, oil production, industrial solvents, paints and coatings. Diesel engines and gas stations allow gas to be leaked out and are huge contributors to the smog problem. Lead found in gasoline that is combusted in automobiles is also a major problem.

Coal fires that are used to heat the buildings or in a power-producing plant discharge clouds of smoke that add to smog. The 2013 autumnal smog in Harbin, China is a result of the air pollution of this type which closed roads, schools and the airport. The visibility in the city was reduced in places to less than 65 feet (20 meters).

Effects of Smog:

  • Smog suppresses plants’ natural ability to make and store food through photosynthesis. This damages plant life as their growth and general health suffer. Low-lying smog can exhaust crop yield for important agricultural plants wheat, cotton and soybeans. Nitrogen present in smog can kill fish and algae in water habitats.
  • Smog can lead to acid deposits in the form of acid rain, snow, fog, gas and dust. The acidic agents also cause water pollution which can affect plants and animals. It can also damage buildings and monuments by acidic erosion.
  • The effects of smog can be seen in humans as well. It can kill elderly people and trigger the risk of asthma in children. Toxic chemicals found in smog are easily inhaled and deposited in the body via the lungs.
  • The dust clouds, black soot and gray fog result in a smog cloud that can reduce visibility by 70%.

Smog is a direct consequence of the increasing air pollution and can only be reduced where there is a reduction in the pollution.

Impact of Climate Change on Human Health

impact of climate changeClimate change is referred to the changes in the weather conditions that now threaten to transform life on the Earth. Seasonal shifts, increase in temperatures and rising sea levels are some of the deleterious effects of climate change on the environment. One of the major causes of recent climate change involves certain human activities, biotic processes, solar radiations and volcanic eruptions. These changes pose a great risk to human life.

Climatic changes have a great impact on the agricultural sector. The increasing floods and droughts increase malnutrition especially in countries where majority of the population depends on rain-fed subsistence farming. The periodic droughts leading to malnutrition are a cause for about 3.5 million deaths each year.

The extreme weather conditions lead to more frequent storms and floods that cause more deaths. The water and sanitation services destroyed by these floods lead to diseases such as cholera and diarrhea spread that through contaminated food and water. Diarrhea accounts for a total of about 1.8 million deaths each year.

Warmer average temperatures lead to hotter days and more frequent and longer heat waves. These heat waves directly increase the number of deaths, especially people suffering from cardiovascular or respiratory disease. Higher temperatures can also lead to increase in ground-level ozone. These changing temperatures and patterns of rainfall can also lead to diseases like malaria and dengue.

Though controlling natural calamities and procedures is not in our hands, there are preventive measures we can take to control the climate change for future. The greenhouse gas emissions caused by vehicles can be reduced by carpooling or car sharing and also by using fuel-efficient vehicles. Other than environmental perspectives, this will also help you in saving some money. The next thing we can do is being energy efficient by changing the light bulbs to LEDs and using energy-efficient appliances.

The garbage buried in the landfills produces methane. We can recycle plastic, paper, metal and glass and use products with minimal or recyclable packaging. We can also buy organic and locally grown food.

Intensive Farming – Playing with Health and Nature

Earth Girl- Blog- XV- 15 Jan 2014The greenery of the farms is soothing. The farming practices have updated a lot. Nowadays, farmers use the latest technologies and pesticides and other chemical fertilizers to get high yield. But do they know about the negative effects of intensive farming posed on nature?

Let me give you a brief description of what exactly intensive farming means. It is an agricultural production system that involves high use of inputs such as capital, labor and heavy usage of technologies such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers relative to land area. This has led to a considerable increase in the production but has also increased environmental pollution by increasing erosion and poisoning water with chemicals. Most of the meat, dairy, eggs, fruits and vegetables available in supermarkets are produced using this type of industrial agriculture.

Let me now tell you about the negative effects of intensive farming practice.

  • This type of farming involves use different types of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. Also, it is associated with farms that keep livestock above their holding capacity. This leads to pollution and various diseases and infections because of overcrowding and poor hygiene.
  • Intensive farming affects the environment in many ways. It leads to destruction of forests in order to create large open fields which further leads to soil erosion. Also, it affects the natural habitat of wild animals. Water bodies such as lakes and rivers are contaminated because of the chemical fertilizers.
  • The fruits and vegetables grown from intensive farming are covered with invisible pesticides that can lead to skin allergy, physical deformity, and congenital disease.
  • The pesticides not only contaminate the crops but also kill beneficial insects. Heavy use of these chemicals also affects the workers and the people residing nearby.
  • The reports and studies clearly show that the consumption of food grown by intensive farming processes lead to an increase in the number of cancer patients and children born with defects.

Now that you know the ill-effects of intensive farming on your health and nature, I think the only advantage for us in intensive farming is the lower priced food which we are actually paying for with our health. Why not go for healthy farming practices or organic farming that will surely lead us to a better health and greener environment.

FINDER – Saving More Lives in Disasters

NHT- Blog- XVI- 15 Jan 2014The devastation caused by natural disasters is not just limited to property and infrastructure but also to human life. Often, there is a huge loss of human lives in a disaster. When research and rescue teams from agencies like Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) go into areas after an earthquake or a tsunami, they have limited resources to cover large areas.

This led to the discovery of a new tool from NASA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help emergency responders locate victims following major disasters known as the Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER). It is a lightweight, portable radio wave detector that helps the emergency responders to search for victims.

Let us take a look at some of the advantages the new heartbeat detector may offer emergency responders during a disaster.

  • It can quickly identify people who are alive and trapped in debris. Often, victims are trapped and injured and die because of lack of oxygen. Locating them quickly can help in saving their lives.
  • FINDER is portable, weighs only 9 kilograms and runs on batteries. These features make the device easily transportable to areas in greatest need.
  • The detector uses lithium batteries that last for about 12 to 14 hours, which is the length of the shift of an emergency responder.

According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, the latest version of the device has the capacity to detect a heartbeat from 100 feet away in open space and up to 30 feet of crushed material and 20 feet of solid concrete. The technology can discriminate between a human and an animal. The microwave radar technology is sensitive enough to distinguish a human heartbeat from that of other living creatures.

For now, emergency responders use other devices, video camera and dogs in their rescue missions. FINDER could be ready for commercial use by the middle of 2014.