We are experiencing Extremes

Republished article:

Extreme heat waves in a warming world don’t just break records – they shatter them

July 23, 2021 1.14pm BST Updated July 26, 2021 5.15pm BST


  1. Scott DenningProfessor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University

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Summer isn’t even half over, and we’ve seen heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and Canada with temperatures that would be hot for Death Valley, enormous fires that have sent smoke across North America, and lethal floods of biblical proportions in Germany and China. Scientists have warned for over 50 years about increases in extreme events arising from subtle changes in average climate, but many people have been shocked by the ferocity of recent weather disasters.

A couple of things are important to understand about climate change’s role in extreme weather like this.

First, humans have pumped so much carbon dioxide and other planet-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that what’s “normal” has shifted. A new study, published July 26, 2021, for example, shows how record-shattering, long-lasting heat waves – those that break records by a wide margin – are growing increasingly likely, and that the rate of global warming is connected with the increasing chances of these heat extremes.

Second, not every extreme weather event is connected to global warming.

Shifting the bell curve

Like so many things, temperature statistics follow a bell curve – mathematicians call these “normal distributions.” The most frequent and likely temperatures are near the average, and values farther from the average quickly become much less likely.

All else being equal, a little bit of warming shifts the bell to the right – toward higher temperatures. Even a shift of just a few degrees makes the really unlikely temperatures in the extreme “tail” of the bell happen dramatically more often.https://www.youtube.com/embed/1YigIVWMPHM?wmode=transparent&start=0NASA mapped the changing temperature bell curve year by year starting in 1951.

The stream of broken temperature records in the North American West lately is a great example. Portland hit 116 degrees – 9 degrees above its record before the heat wave. That would be an extreme at the end of the tail. One study determined the heat wave would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change. Extreme heat waves that were once ridiculously improbable are on their way to becoming more commonplace, and unimaginable events are becoming possible.

The width of the bell curve is measured by its standard deviation. About two-thirds of all values fall within one standard deviation of the average. Based on historical temperature records, the heat wave in 2003 that killed more than 70,000 people in Europe was five standard deviations above the mean, so it was a 1 in 1 million event.

Without eliminating emissions from fossil fuels, studies have found that heat like that is likely to happen a few times a decade by the time today’s toddlers are retirees.

So, is climate change to blame?

There’s a basic hierarchy of the extreme events that scientific research so far has shown are most affected by human-caused climate change.

At the top of the list are extreme events like heat waves that are certain to be influenced by global warming. In these, three lines of evidence converge: observations, physics and computer model simulations that predict and explain the changes. At the bottom of the list are things that might plausibly be caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases but for which the evidence is not yet convincing. Here’s a partial list.

1) Heat waves: Studies show these are certain to increase dramatically with global warming, and indeed that’s exactly what we’re observing.

Map showing cities in the Southeast in particular will see the longest heat seasons
The hot season is getting a lot longer in some places. Michael Kolian/U.S. Global Change Research Program

2) Coastal flooding: Heat is causing ocean waters to expand, pushing up sea levels, and melting ice sheets around the world. Both high-tide flooding and catastrophic storm surge will become much more frequent as those events start from a higher average level because of sea level rise.

3) Drought: Warmer air evaporates more water from reservoirs, crops and forests, so drought will increase because of increased water demand, even though changes in rainfall vary and are hard to predict.

4) Wildfires: As the western U.S. and Canada are seeing, heat dries out the soils and vegetation, providing drier fuel that’s ready to burn. Forests lose more water during hotter summers, and fire seasons are getting longer.

A greenhouse surrounded by dry brush with fire in the forest on the hill behind it
The Tamarack Fire spread through dry forest and grass near Lake Tahoe on July 17, 2021. AP Photo/Noah Berger

5) Reduced spring snowpack: Snow starts accumulating later in the fall as temperatures rise, more water is lost from the snowpack during winter, and the snow melts earlier in the spring, reducing the flush of water into reservoirs that supports the economies of semiarid regions.

6) Very heavy rainfall: Warmer air can transport more water vapor. Damaging rainstorms are due to strong updrafts that cool the air and condense the vapor as rainfall. The more water is in the air during a strong updraft, the more rain can fall.

7) Hurricanes and tropical storms: These derive their energy from evaporation from the warm sea surface. As oceans warm, larger regions can spawn these storms and provide more energy. But changes in winds aloft are expected to reduce hurricane intensification, so it’s not clear that global warming will increase damage from tropical storms.

8) Extreme cold weather: Some research has attributed cold weather that dips south with the meandering of the jet stream – sometimes referred to as “polar vortex” outbreaks – to warming in the Arctic. Other studies strongly dispute that Arctic warming is likely to affect winter weather farther south, and this idea remains controversial.

9) Severe thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes: These storms are triggered by strong surface heating, so it’s plausible that they could increase in a warming world. But their development depends on the circumstances of each storm. There is not yet evidence that the frequency of tornadoes is increasing.

When extreme heat shatters records

In the new heat wave study, Erich Fischer and colleagues at the Swiss Institute for Atmosphere and Climate Science looked at the frequency of weeklong heat waves that don’t just push the envelope of previous climate, they shatter records by huge margins. The scientists analyzed thousands of years of climate simulations to identify unprecedented heat events and found that global warming caused by coal, oil and gas was commonly associated with such events. In models, these record-shattering weeklong heat waves don’t just gradually increase with global warming but instead strike without warning.

The researchers showed that record-shattering heat is much more likely than it was a generation ago, and that these devastating events will occur much more often over the next few decades. Critically, they found that the likelihood of these unprecedented heat waves is associated with the rate of warming – and that their likelihood decreases markedly when fossil fuel emissions fall.

A warning that can’t be ignored

The catastrophic impacts of extreme weather depend at least as much on people as on climate.

The evidence is clear that the more coal, oil and gas are burned, the more the world will warm, and the more likely it will be for any given location to experience heat waves that are far outside anything they’ve experienced.

Disaster preparedness can quickly fail when extreme events blow past all previous experience. Portland’s melting streetcar power cables are a good example. How communities develop infrastructure, social and economic systems, planning and preparedness can make them more resilient – or more vulnerable – to extreme events.

This article was updated July 26, 2021, with the heat study.

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Sugar and Big Food

I found this definition of Sugar here:

Sugar is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in many foods. The body mostly uses carbohydrates as an energy source. Food producers also add sugar to many products, which can lead a person’s blood sugar levels to become too high.

Our bodies have always needed sugar as a fuel. We eat carbohydrate foods and the chemical process in our amazing bodies turns the carbohydrates into glucose. The essential glucose will then be carried by our blood, maintaining the blood cells, the central nervous system and the brain.

The article goes on to explain:

The body has a natural feedback mechanism by which high glucose levels lead to increased insulin production, and low levels lead to decreased levels of this hormone. The body requires healthy insulin levels to function properly. If there is too little insulin or it no longer functions properly, a person can develop diabetes.

People with Diabetes are especially vulnerable to the Covid virus. You can see where your country is ranked in relation to others where cases of diabetes are concerned. This website explains:

Development Relevance: Diabetes, an important cause of ill health and a risk factor for other diseases in developed countries, is spreading rapidly in developing countries. Highest among the elderly, prevalence rates are rising among younger and productive populations in developing countries. Economic development has led to the spread of Western lifestyles and diet to developing countries, resulting in a substantial increase in diabetes. Without effective prevention and control programs, diabetes will likely continue to increase.

By viewing the rankings we can see how the Food Industry has impacted countries who had a low incidence of diabetes to having a high incidence. For example, top of the list is Kiribati. They went from 6.60 percent of the 20 to 79 year olds in 2010, to 22.50 percent in 2019. An example of the results of diabetes leading to amputation is highlighted at this prosthetics clinic.

Kiribati Major Imports

Based on the statistics of United Nations, Kiribati imported US$109 million worth of goods around the world in 2018. Among all the top products imported to Kiribati, Cane Sugar contributes to 1.83% of total trade value, equal to US$2,002 thousand. The second imported is Prepared & Preserved Meat, which accounts for 1.31%. The following table lists the top products imported to Kiribati. Also shown are the trade value and the percentage share for each import category as well as the growth rate during the past 5 years.

The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) is an unusual place.  It consists of 33 islands, 32 of which are atolls (an atoll is a ring shaped coral reef) about 4,000 km southwest of Hawaii.  Twenty-one of the islands are inhabited and the total land mass is 811 square kilometers.  Home to over one hundred thousand people, Kiribati is a country in crisis.

Several problems plague the islands, first there is the problem of climate change – between unusually bad storms and rising ocean levels, there are many on Kiribati who believe their country will quite literally disappear in the next 30-60 years.  While many argue the details of the timeline, it is clear that climate change is adversely affecting this group of islands. There is no higher ground to run to, no safety net for the population.

Tarawa is the capital of Kiribati, which is one of the most remote countries on Earth, located on the equator about halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Its atolls are scattered across a patch of the Pacific the size of India, and yet they have a total of just 811 square kilometres of land, about half the size of Greater London.

When a plane lands on Tarawa, a crowd gathers at the airport, drawn by the excitement of the jet making the three-hour flight from Fiji. Aside from occasional freighters bringing canned food, this twice-weekly Fiji Airways flight provides the primary connection to the outside world.

Historically, these Pacific Islanders were once kidnapped and used as slaves on the Queensland plantations of Australia is shown in a film, details of which is shown here.

Sugar Slaves
Few people know that the Australian sugar industry was founded on the sweat of men and women enticed or kidnapped from the islands of the South Pacific. Sugar Slaves is the story of that human traffic, euphemistically known as “blackbirding”. Between 1863 and 1904 about 60,000 islanders were transported to the colony of Queensland, where they toiled to create the sugar plantations. Then, after the introduction of a White Australia policy (Immigration Restriction Act 1901), most were deported.

In 2014 a report revealed 81.5% of the population were overweight.

Realising the problem of obesity which is caused by junk food consumption, in 2017 the Islanders decided to abandon junk food. They do not need this health issue added to their many other challenges of life in these Pacific Islands.

I hope they can abandon junk food – but it is not easy to do with Big Food inventing strategies to pull victims back into the habit and increasing morbidity as a result.

The biggest food company in the world is Cargill. The company makes most of their money from powdered and liquid beverage sales.

‘Conscious Disregard’ repeats itself as Corporates fight for increasing annual profits year on year.

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Pawns in the Game

Author Michael Moss, on page 140 of his book ‘Hooked’, names Northeastern University in Boston, led by Professor Richard Daynard of their Law Faculty for instructing his students to create a database which tracked lawsuits brought by injured smokers. Their database was the basis of research which linked lung cancer to the smoking habit. They would use their data to demonstrate this link at conferences and support attorneys who required definitive evidence to make their case. When the long case against the tobacco giants was settled in 1998, $200 billion was required by them to be paid to the states where their health provision had been impacted by high costs of treating lung disease due to smoking.

Tobacco giants like Philip Morris bought into the food industry, understanding the process of addiction which had generated so many billions of dollars to their companies.

A nutritionist, Marion Nestle, who, Michael Moss tells us was ‘one of the first scholars to argue that the food industry should attract the same kind of scrutiny as the makers of drugs and tobacco’, persuaded the same Law Faculty, led by Richard Daynard, to now take on those companies who make addictive Ultra Processed Foods.

Covid has highlighted the vulnerabilities of people around the world who have become addicted to Ultra Processed Foods. It is not for them to just stop. As with all addictions, it is now becoming a serious topic of research in countries where so many have died of Covid because they suffered underlying ill health caused by poor diet. They did not have sufficient nutrition to help their body fight the disease. Disordered eating has become commonplace. But people look for cheapness, availability and speed of delivery of food to stomach. The food industry makes billions out of ensuring these temptations are in plain sight on ultra processed food presentation to the gullible.

The lobbying of the above NRA in various states in the US in the early 2000s, led to an element of legal protection for food services to not be questioned about the possible links to human obesity. (Commonsense Consumption Act – sometimes referred to as the “cheeseburger bill”, wording drawn up by Meersman of the Colorado Restaurant Association, was passed into law and copied by twenty six states, to protect the corporates from public scrutiny)

Dana Small, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Psychology; Director, Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center

Dana Small has conducted some ingenious experiments to understand the evolution of the human body as it learned to acquire fuel, in the form of calories from ancient to present time. When we first foraged for food, we worked hard, chewed hard on roots and tough plants to gain enough calories to give us energy for the search for more fuel, until we had sufficient to rest but stay alert to dangers.

As we learned how to use stones as tools to beat hard foods to pulp, this made chewing easier and helped our digestion. When we learned about fire we could cook foods and widen our range to include meat and fish. We have been active humans for most of our existence, only resting for short periods whilst most of the time was spent using up calories exercising in our work around procuring food and shelter.

Michael Moss covers research Dana Small carried out for PepsiCo, and in 2014 she was terminated from pursuing her interesting findings. One of the executive directors in charge of nutrition said of Dana Small that ‘she was dangerous’, implying her work posed a threat to the high calorie beverage industry

Nowadays, many populations have food to hand in shops or markets. We are not all active, but we can buy in high calorie food and drink and consume it whilst inactive, relaxing watching some form of entertainment. Our bodies still have the process for calculating calorie intake but Dana Small has learned about modern foods and how these have confused our neurological and gut processes. Dana Small has stated, “It’s not so much that people can become addicted to food. It’s that the food has changed, and it is mismatched to us”. She had called this the Mismatch Index.

This 2020 YouTube provides advice on how to eat healthily, lose weight with care, and avoid diseases through understanding the relationship with appropriate food for wellbeing.

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Stop doing this

Michael Moss in his book ‘Hooked’ revealed the name of another hero we can all be grateful to, the attorney Stephen Joseph.

Stephen Joseph

You can read on his website how he took on Philip Morris, the tobacco giants, who owned Kraft, for their use of trans fats. It simply states ‘He sued Kraft to ban Oreo cookies because they contained trans fat. In response, Kraft removed trans fat from Oreos and all of its products, and many other companies did too.’

Saturated Fat – Raises LDL (bad cholesterol) and raises HDL (good cholesterol).

Natural Polyunsaturated Fat – Lowers LDL, raises HDL

Monounsaturated Fat – Lowers LDL, raises HDL

Trans Fats (Polyunsaturated fats that have been hydrogenated) – Raises LDL, lowers HDL
This is the highest risk fat. (These fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid, which is why they are often called partially hydrogenated oils.)

Moss explains: ‘This fat had been used originally to make margarine…….’ We all remember the marketing for margarine told us it was ‘just like butter’ but better for our health, ‘good for the heart’ and so on. Many of us changed to this oily substance, but felt a longing for the taste of butter, for margarine tasted nothing like butter.

Researchers were coming up with evidence that margarine actually clogged arteries and contributed to cardiovascular disease. By the time that evidence came out, many of us had been using it for years. The food industry adopted it throughout their product ranges as it preserved the shelf life of ‘cookies, cakes, biscuits, popcorn, doughnuts, breakfast sandwiches, frozen pizza, and fried fast food.

Stephen Joseph went to his local supermarket and found it hard to find anything which did NOT contain trans fats. He understood trans fats were not essential to any of their product lines, but they chose to use it. Their scientists must have been aware, as he was, of the emerging evidence of danger to human health.

He was so incensed he determined to expose them and used the Nabisco division of Kraft of the brand Oreo to illustrate the heavy use of trans fats in both the wafer and the creme filling.

On 1st May 2003 he submitted his papers. He asked for the California court to ban the sale of Oreos throughout California, particularly underlining the point that the marketing targeted young children.

Philip Morris had only acquired Nabisco in 2000. They were not familiar with the development of Nabisco products prior to them being seen as sufficiently attractive to a takeover. They had revamped the Oreo brand to make it not only attractive to adults but also mega attractive to children. So whilst one hand of a child played with a toy, the other could reach for the optimally packaged supply of Mini Oreos launched in 2000. The massive success of this addictive, high calorie, trans fat loaded product put them on the map. Increasingly the strategy was to encourage compulsive eating through design.

Kraft simply agreed to remove trans fats from its products and the case ended amicably. Stephen Joseph has highlighted the dangers and the industry has decreased its use trans fats in the US over the past decades. But outside the US it is still a problem in fast foods.

The WHO in September 2020 said:

‘Two years into the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ambitious effort to eliminate industrially produced trans fats from the global food supply, the Organization reports that 58 countries so far have introduced laws that will protect 3.2 billion people from the harmful substance by the end of 2021. But more than 100 countries still need to take actions to remove these harmful substances from their food supplies.

Consumption of industrially produced trans fats are estimated to cause around 500,000 deaths per year due to coronary heart disease.

“In a time when the whole world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we must make every effort to protect people’s health. That must include taking all steps possible to prevent noncommunicable diseases that can make them more susceptible to the coronavirus, and cause premature death,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Our goal of eliminating trans fats by 2023 must not be delayed.”

Fifteen countries account for approximately two thirds of the worldwide deaths linked to trans fat intake. Of these, four (Canada, Latvia, Slovenia, United States of America) have implemented WHO-recommended best-practice policies since 2017, either by setting mandatory limits for industrially produced trans fats to 2% of oils and fats in all foods or banning partially hydrogenated oils (PHO).

But the remaining 11 countries (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Iran, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Republic of Korea) still need to take urgent action.’

Trans fats have not disappeared and can still be found in unexpected places. Always inform yourself before purchasing. For example, I wrote to Violife of Greece, as I eat their vegetarian cheese, and I asked them if they hydrogenate the coconut oil in the cheese. They replied:

“Thank you for your interest in our products and for taking the time to contact us.

The coconut oil used in all Violife products is not hydrogenated. It is highly refined, all protein content has been removed and it is totally allergen free.

The coconut oil used in all Violife products is Refined Bleached Deodorised (RBD).”

I had also asked the Oatley.com oat drink producers about their description on their website of hydrogenation used in their products, they replied:

“Thank you for taking the time to write to us!

You’re totally right, partially hydrogenated fats are something we should look out for! With that said, let me guarantee you that none of our products contain trans fats as we are only using fully hydrogenated fats in the products where we use hydrogenated oils.”

So always ask if you are concerned.

Mid July this year, our UK media covered this National food Strategy Report. But our government are likely to obey the Food Industry lobbyists and shut any such progressive ideas down.

It is really up to us as consumers to understand the trickery to cultivate addiction to unhealthy fake foods from which these corporates make $billions and make those who are addicted grow horribly ill.

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We eat to forget. Then we eat for relief.

The above title is from Michael Moss’s book ‘Hooked’ (p71).

Moss’s book explains how our bodies have evolved since ancestral hominids roamed the Ethiopian landscape. He then brings us up to date with the chemistry of modern processed foods. People in white coats work in labs to synthetically create ‘foods’ which are designed to appeal to our senses.

On p.104, he tells us how the technologists devise synthetic pumpkin spice. They combine at least eighty elements. ‘These include cyclotenes, a group of chemicals that deliver a toasted, maple-like smell; lactones, such as delta-Dodecalactone, which render a creaminess and buttery-like rich milk aroma, with a touch of light fruitiness; sulfurol with its custardy, eggy, creamy, and caramel-like notes; pyrazines with their brown, nutty, caramel-tinged flavor; and vanillin, or 4-hydroxy, 3 methoxybenzaldehyde, the aldehyde family version of real vanilla, creamy and sweet.’

The flavourists will work to provide so many varieties of flavour for industry, and these in turn can be deployed to seduce and trick the senses of consumers with their myriad of consequently addictive products. A product can be devised which has harmful ingredients, leading to a myriad of diseases, but they can taste and smell wonderful, thanks to the brilliance of the concoctions devised by the flavorists. These flavours might not trick an experienced chef or a person who took pride in their cooking from natural ingredients, but some would say the flavours are an improvement on what grows in our natural environment.

Even the undesirable scents of processed foods is masked by special scents devised to conceal the bad smells. The secretive nature of procuring the designed products are a matter of intellectual property and highly protected. Food regulators will not demand the chemical makeup be displayed on the box the consumer picks up. They may instead categorise all the compounds as ‘natural and artificial flavours’. Vanillin is the most seductive to date, being added to more than 18 thousand products, especially vanilla ice cream.

Those food manufacturers who know they are harming our health, target the ‘most vulnerable part of our psyche, where we act on instinct and rote rather than rationalization.’ The processed food industry is worth $1.5 trillion and they will do whatever it takes to snare us and finally hook us into addiction.

Vanilla Orchid
Vanilla Orchid Pods

Gourmets will know where to source the best vanilla pods and when they add the essence to their chosen dish, they will appreciate the care they have taken will impress their clientele. Read here for details of the most sought after Madagascan vanilla pods. Of course, if you have the right conditions at home you can grow your own, and if you succeed the taste will be good, but unlikely to compete with the best. But you have the satisfaction of knowing you have a real, home grown taste, and not a fake flavour made from chemicals, often based on petrochemicals. Even the anal glands of a beaver can be squeezed to produce what is needed to make vanillin. However, the sap of a certain tree is mostly used to procure the vanillin compound.

If the argument was simply about improving on nature and creating a range of tastes and smells in large quantities to meet demand, then we might say, as resources in farming diminish, this is a good ecological alternative. BUT, it is the creation of fake foods which are not healthy which have had these addictive tastes and smells added to make us eat the products compulsively, that is the main issue here.

None of us wants to know that we have been fooled into buying fake food, but since the 1980s the acceleration of fast foods (fake foods) in our supermarkets has increased from (US figures) six thousand to double that in the 1990s until today approximately thirty-three thousand items with a huge and varied range of chemically created tastes and smells to induce us into addictive eating.

The more that scientists could explain the responses the tandem process of brain and stomach to smell and tastes on the tongue and the olfactory bulb in the nasal cavity, the more information the food industry had to heighten the urge to purchase and endlessly consume their product offerings. The industry has also worked to imitate expensive foods and offer what seems a similar but much cheaper product, appealing to the consumer on both taste and price. Buying more for your money is another gratifying pleasure for most people.

The research arm of the food industry is the International Life Sciences Institute. Their website tells us:

Scientific Partnerships for a Healthier World

ILSI is a nonprofit, global organization whose mission is to provide science that improves human health, well-being and safeguards the environment. For more than 40 years, ILSI has specialized in convening scientists from academia, as well as the public and private sectors, to collaborate in a neutral forum on scientific topics of mutual interest.

At an annual meeting of the ILSI in 2014, Michael Moss writes, (on p.117 of his book ‘Hooked’) of a researcher who showed the industry how to exploit us in another way and offered ‘some insight into how they can overcome our free will to control our eating habits. Low price, convenience, and variety get a boost when another aspect of our biology gets exploited: our memory.’

She explained that if, whilst distracted when eating by, for example watching TV, that distraction will make us forget the meal we should have focused on and we will continue to eat now that our brain has not registered the food intake. By 2017 new research then found those who were distracted regularly became obese.

Moss states: ‘We eat what we remember, but as the food companies know, we eat more when we can be made to forget.’

We can read here a UK 2020 piece of research which explains the dangers from ‘Ultra-Processed Foods and Health Outcomes: A Narrative Review’. Here is an extract:

Of 43 studies reviewed, 37 found dietary UPF exposure associated with at least one adverse health outcome. Among adults, these included overweight, obesity and cardio-metabolic risks; cancer, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; irritable bowel syndrome, depression and frailty conditions; and all-cause mortality. Among children and adolescents, these included cardio-metabolic risks and asthma. No study reported an association between UPF and beneficial health outcomes.

Ultra processed foods make us ill, so ill we are more likely to die prematurely. Our health systems cannot keep up. Our pharmaceutical industries constantly supply us with drugs to combat or manage these diseases. If we have less money to spend on food we will buy the cheaper ultra processed foods. As we get progressively ill, we will not be able to afford medical bills if we live in a country where ‘free at the point of need’ does not exist. If we do live in the UK, we can access the NHS for assistance but the NHS is underfunded and understaffed and overwhelmed, especially now due to Covid.

This graphic from https://forwardeating.org/ultra-processed-foods/ explains the differences:

The spread of processed foods has become global with major corporations opening up outlets in parts of the world who had pride in their slow and beautifully crafted, carefully sourced foods. Diabetes 2 has become an illness where it was unknown until the western diet penetrated their cultures. This illness makes people far more vulnerable to Covid, as we have seen in India this year.

When I was at school, because I was female, I was taught Domestic Science to prepare me for marriage and raising a family. Although it was an insult to women to think that was all we were good for, I do think that all children should be taught how to choose organic foods where possible and how to avoid ultra processed foods. Learning to create tasty meals carefully sourced yet on a tight budget, is a practical and healthy approach to self care when one leaves home.

Covid should have given us a ‘wake-up’ call to change the way forward and work out how to extinguish toxins from our environment which make us fall victims to so much illness unnecessarily.

So look for advice if you are unsure how to avoid Ultra Processed Food, for example here, and below an extract

Here are five easy ways to reduce your intake.

● Read ingredient lists carefully. The shorter, the better. Avoid anything that contains hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors or strange-sounding substances you don’t recognize that the manufacturer says are put there to maintain freshness. “All the ingredients should look like something you could make in your own kitchen,” Katz says. This is true even if it’s a seemingly healthy staple such as an energy bar, a protein shake or even a plant-based milk drink. These have all gotten a health halo though they can be ultra-processed foods, says Julie Stefanski, a nutritionist in Morrisville, N.C., and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

● Make it yourself. It can be easier than you think to whip up your own staple items. “It takes less than a minute to stir together with a salad dressing with ingredients you have on hand, such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs and spices,” Stefanski says. Instead of spending money on a premade protein shake, create your own with low-fat milk, frozen fruit and a tablespoon of natural nut butter. Instead of a sugary fruit-flavored yogurt, opt for the plain variety and sweeten it with fruit.

●Shop smartly. When you hit the supermarket, focus on the perimeter. That’s where most of the unprocessed fare — think to produce, legumes, nuts, dairy, meat, and fish — are located. Don’t shy away from canned or frozen fruits, veggies, broth or meats, either. Although these are considered “processed” foods, they weren’t associated with an increased risk of death or disease, Lawrence says.

●Skip creams and sweeteners in coffee or tea. Most powdered and flavored liquid creams are simply dried high-fructose corn syrup, Stefanski says. Lighten your drink with a splash of milk instead.

●Plan snacks in advance. Most of the time, we reach for processed foods because it’s convenient. Carry snacks such as homemade trail mix or fruit with nut butter with you, so you can nosh when hunger hits instead of attacking the vending machine.

 Source: Consumer Reports Inc.

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Corporates Accessing Science, Perpetuating Conscious Disregard

I have just purchased this book, ‘Hooked’ by journalist Michael Moss. Another leading light in the effort to show we have been made ill by those who worship the mantra ‘profit before people’. Corporates employ scientists to find our vulnerabilities in order to ensure that what we put in our mouths will become addictive, generating sales ad infinitum if left unchallenged.

Michael Moss, a few pages into the book, mentioned the name of the great lawyer (in my mind) John Banzhaf. I never knew his name until I read this book, but my life quality has benefitted since he founded ASH. As a chronic asthma sufferer, the impact of his work has caused laws in the UK to change in order to prohibit smoking in public places. As a singer, I was able to perform in venues without developing an asthma attack if I tried to sing where smoking used to be allowed.

About John Banzhaf

He was the lawyer who inspired John Bilott (see my earlier blogs related to his work) to accelerate the class action he was working on.

Michael Moss tells us that ‘ in 1997, Banzhaf had helped engineer the legal assault which brought the tobacco industry to its knees. Rather than relying on individuals to sue the cigarette manufacturers for damaging their health, the new strategy involved states bringing lawsuits against the manufacturers for wrecking the budgets of the health agencies that had to care for sick smokers. This was a stroke of genius that frames the issue in dollars and cents instead of individual moral judgments, and in 1998, the tobacco companies caved. They agreed to curtail their worst marketing practices and spend $246 billion on measures to counteract the medical harm they had done.’

We may or may not choose to smoke a cigarette, and if we do, and we live in the US or UK, we are more than likely aware of the dangers to our health and the health of those around us.

But what of those who grow the tobacco? It is best grown in warm and dry climates.

In 2019 these were the leading tobacco growing countries:

According to this website:

While the China National Tobacco Corporation (CNTC) produces nearly half the world’s cigarettes, almost all of them have been consumed at home.

The article goes on to say:

The companies most often referred to collectively as Big Tobacco –– Philip Morris International (PMI), British American Tobacco (BAT), Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) –– have all been hit over the years with scandals involving smuggling and unethical advertising.

In its expansion strategies, CNTC has taken a leaf from the playbook of its “Big Tobacco” competitors, according to Mackay, who advises the WHO on implementing the FCTC.

“As a template, you could argue this is just what China is doing now,” said Mackay. “It’s not different from what they’ve learnt from the rest of the world.”

And China Tobacco has done it well. According to a 2019 estimate by its largest competitor, PMI, China Tobacco controls about 45 percent of the global market of cigarettes and heated tobacco units. That’s a bigger share than PMI, BAT, JTI and Imperial Brands combined.

There is such a demand for cigarettes, that smuggling tobacco has and still is a major activity.

Reading about it here raises awareness of the supply and demand criminal trade.

‘Tobacco companies have facilitated the smuggling of their own cigarettes and roll your own tobacco for decades. Internal company documents reveal that in the 1990s smuggling was an integral part of tobacco companies’ business strategies. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, the tobacco industry’s involvement in smuggling had been exposed leading to public investigations, court cases and extremely negative publicity for the tobacco companies. Using a massive public relations drive, they claimed they had changed and were now the victims, not the perpetrators of tobacco smuggling. But contemporary evidence indicates significant ongoing tobacco company involvement in the illicit tobacco trade.12………………

The article goes on to say:

Major tobacco companies have an extensive history of facilitating the illicit trade. By the late 1990s, it was estimated that one third of global annual cigarette exports could not be accounted for via legal distribution routes.6 Despite the tobacco industry knowing that cigarette smuggling increased sales to children, documents from the Truth Industry Documents Archive and other evidence has shown the extensive involvement of the industry in facilitating smuggling by shipping huge quantities of cigarettes to ‘smuggling hubs’. The cigarettes were then forwarded via these hubs via the black market, often back to the countries from where they were shipped.

When corporates lose legal battles in litigious countries like the USA, they will find other routes to maintain their wealth and production.

This science article explains why it is so hard to quit smoking. Here is an extract:

This component of addiction is known as negative reward and is controlled in part by a region of the brain called the habenula. The neurotransmitters acetylcholine and glutamate are thought to influence nicotine dependence in the habenula, but the molecular details of this regulation are unclear.

This article describes where the habenula is and explains it is a relatively new area of the brain found by neuroscientists. The knowledge gained will no doubt benefit us all over time, but any scientists working for corporates may redirect the knowledge into more sinister avenues.

It is not hard to find stressed people in this world. The fact that nicotine is a poison should warn people that any form of liquid nicotine (as in e-cigarettes) can be lethal. Not only do stressed people take up smoking, but in trying to quit, will switch to e-cigarettes. Targeting stressed people with a poison is an even more abhorrent crime. They are not responsible for their cigarette habit, though they might think they are. They might think smoking makes them seem stronger, more independent. But they will lose their ability to taste healthy food and even any food will not be as important to them as the cigarette. This is a sad situation.

We now have transnational organized crime networks which are sophisticated and successful. They are successful because they have millions of addicted customers, who may smoke themselves to death and nobody cares.

The WHO tells us:

  • Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
  • Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
  • Over 80% of the world’s 1.3 billion tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries.

So far, Covid (according to Worldometer) has killed 3,918,881 to date (26th June, 2021) over the past 18 months. Many of those deaths, similar to those who die from smoking cigarettes, are people who live in low- and middle-income countries.

Tobacco growing and smuggling of tobacco is an act of Malice, Conscious Disregard of fellow human beings by those who are part of these transnational smuggling networks.

I had a great aunt who made cigars in a factory before she was married. Many of my family smoked, my father, especially, was totally hooked. During World War II, cigarettes were given to the members of the armed forces and many people at home. They were told it would help them feel less stressed. Cigarettes were promoted as ‘good for your health’. A pack of cigarettes could be exchanged for goods and favours. They were a mode of currency and still are. Like other poisons which gradually kill you, cigarettes seemed to de-stress people just as the adverts suggested. We now understand how that happens, thanks to neuroscience. But there was a point in history where scientists began to link nicotine to premature deaths, usually as a result of lung cancer. But even when that was known, the tobacco companies refused to take responsibility.

I am glad that raising awareness and bringing in laws to reduce the places where smoking is allowed has been shown to improve the life chances of many people in the UK. It is no longer seen as a sexy habit as it was in the movies until the law changed that kind of promotion.

An interesting selection of photos on the subject of smoking and tobacco is worth viewing with all the experiences around the world is here.

This is one of the pictures from the above collection:

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Conscious Disregard, continued……..

I previously wrote about the poison Chromium VI which has leached into the rivers and streams of Glasgow City since Shaw Chemicals once processed chemicals in the highly industrial 19th and 20th centuries. Later, in April, I wrote about Industrial Chromium.

Just last month GlasgowLive ran a feature on a horrific image of leaching of the poison into a local river.

What do SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protections Agency) say about it? Efforts to remediate such poisoned land and soil are under way. But how many people have died from being poisoned by Chromium VI since the Shawfield area was contaminated over at least 80 years?

The area is being remediated through a funding body, Clyde Gateway. They said:

Clyde Gateway also confirmed at the time that there were still significant areas of land in the Shawfield area that had not been remediated, with discussions underway with a number of stakeholders – including the Scottish Government – to secure funding to complete the essential work which would improve water quality in the area.

Glasgow, (a major conurbation in Scotland) perhaps not surprisingly, suffers a higher rate of cancer than other European countries. The Chromium VI alone has not been removed from the region, as in the US, it seems it leaches into the groundwater and expands over time.

People cannot be blamed for drinking bottled water, if they can afford it, rather than drink water straight from the tap. Plastic bottles which have contained water often find their way into the Oceans. Factories which produce the bottles also pollute with chemicals as we know so well.

The ongoing battle to give Americans safe drinking water, free of chemicals, especially Chromium VI.

In the 1990s, Erin Brokovitch worked for a small law firm in Hinkley, California. She was a single parent with three children and was highly motivated to earn enough to pay her bills, getting no financial help from anyone. She worked diligently as a law clerk, and she spotted something in the files which made her ask questions, and the busy firm allowed her to seek the answers.

This led to unearthing evidence that the local industry of Pacific Gas & Electric ( PG&E ) had, since the 1950s, used the highly toxic hexavalent chromium, also known as Chromium-6, to kill algae and protect the metal at its natural gas pumping station in Hinkley. Starting in 1952, the power company began mixing a toxic form of chromium with water to prevent rust at a new pipeline pumping station in Hinkley, a remote desert community united by a single school and a general store. PG&E dumped the chromium-laced water into a pond. The plume of contaminated groundwater has been growing ever since, and to the present day is still growing.

Hexavalent chromium is a highly reactive chemical that damages cells. The known health effects range from skin irritation to lung and stomach cancers. In the 1990s, hundreds of Hinkley residents claimed illnesses and other damages stemming from the contaminated water.

In 1996, Erin Brockovich helped more than 600 Hinkley residents win $333 million in settlements from PG&E for cancers and other illnesses they blamed on the chromium-tainted water from their wells. Their story was made famous in the 2000 movie “Erin Brockovich.”

Sadly, the American system will not risk losing industries and therefore impact the economy and accepts needless harm from polluters will kill their citizens as a price worth paying. In 2004 an article strongly refuted the claim that Chromium VI could have such serious impacts on human health.

You only need to look at the list of members to learn this is a lobbying group of all the leading chemical industry corporates.

The graphic below is from Science Direct.

Lawyers deliberately confused the public about Chromium in the water, only referring to the variations which are not toxic. Anyone can look up the benefits of Chromium III and read Chromium (III)(Cr3 +) is an essential trace element, which is required for normal protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism. It helps in converting glucose into energy, promoting healthy blood glucose and blood pressure levels, and enhancing lean body mass by suppressing appetite.

We cannot have industry scientists reporting to their employers that some life endangering chemical is being released into the environment due to the activities of the company, only for them to be ordered to stall the public knowledge of this finding – see below cover of this report.

For the past 60 years, water polluted with chromium (VI) has plagued Hinkley, Calif., the desert town made famous by the film “Erin Brockovich.” Although residents there won their lawsuit against the polluter, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., there’s still a debate over whether the compound causes cancer in drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency says yes, but industry scientists disagree.

Miles O’Brien, PBS NewsHour

David Heath


Key Findings

  • Tens of millions of Americans drink water contaminated with chromium (VI), a compound the Environmental Protection Agency was poised in 2011 to conclude likely causes cancer. That finding would set the stage for setting stricter drinking-water standards.
  • The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, published a major rodent study in 2008 that concluded there was “clear evidence” chromium (VI) in water was a carcinogen.
  • The EPA’s assessment of chromium was delayed to wait for new studies paid for by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade group and lobbyist.
  • Some of the same industry-paid scientists involved in past efforts to stall government action on chromium worked on the studies delaying the EPA.
  • After delays of nearly a decade, the California Environmental Protection Agency declined to wait for the industry studies and issued its own finding in 2011 that chromium was a carcinogen in drinking water.
  • The EPA initially planned to complete its chromium (VI) assessment in 2015.
  • After the Center for Public Integrity and PBS NewsHour started asking questions about the delay, EPA posted a revised timetable for completing the assessment this year.

Wikipedia Entry:

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), formerly known as the Manufacturing Chemists’ Association[1] (at its founding in 1872[2]) and then as the Chemical Manufacturers’ Association[3] (from 1978 until 2000[4][5]), is an industry trade association for American chemical companies, based in Washington, D.C.

You can read a study explaining the occurrence of toxic groundwater from ancient history to present day which explains additional toxins put there by human carelessness. In other words, the tendency to protest about ancient toxins rather than modern man-made toxins is often used as a dismissal of the corporate harmful product processes.

Those responsible for contaminating the water supply should fund a water filtration plant for all customers they have knowingly harmed.

An example of such a plant is the more recently built $600 million Seymour-Capilano water filtration plant (the largest in Canada), or the Coquitlam Water Treatment Plant described below.

Erin Brokovich, in the image above, says she will always drink bottled water. We hope she can stop doing so to help save the planet from harmful effects of the bottled water industry, and ensure she adopts an in-home filtration system. Unlike many people, I think she can afford it.

The last thing we want is the desperate alternative of bottled water. You can read of the problems of plastic bottles polluting the planet, of water in bottles often coming from the same source as tap water, the depletion of aquifers by drilling down to them and so on. You can never be sure the bottled water you have paid for has no dangerous chemicals in it, like arsenic, chromium and others which water authorities have to continually test for in tap water.

People may choose a filtration system which fits in their own home which purport to provide UV filtration. An example is this company product. We must never be complacent about our consumption of tap water, but if a prestigious engineering project such as the Canadian example was a norm for all countries to implement as vital infrastructure, we would have no bottled water problems and no populations being poisoned by their local water supply.

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Conscious Disregard

If we are allergic to nuts we try to follow a diet which has no nuts in it, which is not easy, but anaphylactic shock can kill. When we see people bathing in one of the most polluted rivers in India, the Ganges, we know they are likely to get hepatitis A, typhoid, other acute gastrointestinal illnesses and dysentery. When we learn chemicals which cause cancer have been allowed to enter our drinking water over decades without our knowing, we know there was a conscious disregard of our life quality by those allowing this to happen.

Having allergies from certain foods like kiwi fruit, sesame seeds, shellfish, milk, eggs and a range of nuts limits the selection of foods available to those with such allergies. But there is an effort made by the food industry to raise awareness of ingredients, usually on the label ‘contains traces of nuts’; in the case of other foods, once an allergic reaction has been found, the person involved will work hard to stay safely away from the target foods. We have a system, and it saves lives.

If your religious beliefs are overwhelming common sense to cause you to bathe in a highly polluted river, then questions need to be asked of those perpetuating this ritual.

If your tap water is dangerous to you and your family, but you were never told all the years of your life, then trust in those who should be keeping you safe (that is, the authorities) is lost. Worse than that, they have acted in a way which has indicated your life is not of great value to them and if you die a premature, horrible and painful death as a result, they are not concerned. What does concern them is that the media will eradicate their ‘trusted brand’ reputation and so they must manage the media with lies upon lies and keep the ‘story’ limited in its influence.

In my March blog “Will we be Fishless? XI” I wrote of the shocking case Robert Bilott valiantly worked on to prove the chemical company, DuPont, emitted poisons via its Washington Works, Parkersburg, West Virginia. The resultant contamination was covered up for over 57 years.

Successive management were informed by their own scientists. They knew the chemical they were using in their products was harming their own workers and surrounding community. They used all means possible to cover up and deny the harm they had done until it was finally proven in court. This kind of crime goes by the term ‘Malice’, or Conscious Disregard.

Ultimately, it was found to have sent these poisons into the bodies of all living things.

One man’s dogged determination resulted in “one of the greatest victories for environmental law” See his book Exposure, a gripping read.

The extract below is from Ch 28 The Second Wave

August 2005, West Virginia, New Jersey and Minnesota

As the C8 Health Project was drawing blood, the debate over PFOA was drawing new scientists out of the woodwork. Our litigation had triggered an explosion of scientific interest in PFOA, and new research projects were beginning all over the world – studies that had no connection to our case or to DuPont. Our settlement had granted the Science Panel full discretion to consider relevant data from any of those studies, not just DuPont’s or 3M’s own self-serving studies or data collected through the C8 Health Project.

Adding to my sense of growing momentum, in June 2005, EPA’s Science Advisory Board- the agency’s mechanism for peer review-looked at the draft of EPA’s risk assessment. Based on data its members had seen, which was essentially all the data I had been sending, they recommended that EPA revise its risk assessment and upgrade PFOA from a “suggestive” to a “likely” human carcinogen. This was an important technical distinction that could impact regulatory requirements down the road. It also had another, more immediate impact; headlines suggested that EPA had earlier downplayed the cancer risk and its own advisory board was now calling it out.

While the science was mounting against PFOA, however, a controversial faction of the scientific community was publicly defending it. The American Council on Science and Health-a non profit “consumer education consortium” of scientists-was vocally saying that there was “not a shred of evidence” that either Teflon or PFOA posed any cancer risk whatsoever. It claimed that “junk science” was being used to set public policy. And it criticised EPA for trying to protect us from “canceer risks that do not exist”.

Scientists often disagree on a lot of things, but that group was a great example of why it’s important to trace the money behind the science. The innocuous sounding The American Council on Science and Health was founded in 1978 by a Harvard trained public health scientist as a counterpoint to advocacy groups such as the Environmental Working Group, which it accused of fearmongering with claims it said lacked scientific basis. The Council billed itself as an independent group of scientist aiming to debunk the bogus scientific findings it claimed were driving political decisions in public health and environmental policy.

But critics called the Council an industry front group” funded by corporate donors it refused to disclose. Leaked internal documents showed a donor line-up of household names in industries ranging from Big Tobacco to pharmaceuticals to petroleum and, yes, chemicals, including 3M. They were the same industries the group fiercely defended in the science wars that played out in the media.

We are all aware of our dependency on polymer producing companies to provide the material for much of the bio-persistent products we all use on a daily basis. They seemed miraculous when chemical companies first experimented with their creation.

You can see the 2021 top chemical companies here.

Headlines in the UK papers on 26th May, 2021 are about the shortages of construction materials which are hampering plans for a booming building sector. One major element is a shortage of polymers from Texas. Read here about polymer use in the construction industry.

Such polymers include plastics, adhesives, foams, and even sealants and paints. Look around your home, maybe you can see the extensive use of these materials.

The basic materials of plastics are organic macromolecules (polymers), which are composed of repeating units. Due to increasing environmental concerns related to bio-persistence of petroleum based polymers, research efforts have intensified towards developing biodegradable materials with equivalent performance properties. But no satisfactory replacements are yet in wide use.

In an efforts to circumvent the recent regulation to no longer use PFOA, PFOS in the manufacturing process, alternative chemical makeups have been introduced, but they do not have a good reputation either. They seem to be even more toxic.

PFOA & PFOS replacements under fire (perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)

3M replaced PFOS with perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS) in its signature consumer product Scotchgard in 2003 and DuPont (and now Chemours) began manufacturing GenX. These replacements come under the umbrella name of PFAS. PFBS and perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA) have longer half-lives than PFOS and GenX could be a more potent liver toxin than PFOA.

Praedicat is now monitoring the biomedical science for 14 PFAS in addition to PFOA and PFOS.  This relative emphasis is motivated by the well-known phenomenon of “regrettable substitution.”  Although the science is immature for many PFAS on the market today, the chemical similarity of these replacement chemicals to PFOA and PFOS, their increasing production, and the intensity of scientific interest suggests heightened underwriting risk going forward.

Wherever industry scientists point to harm from the industrial process, the industry will spend high amounts of money to buy the services of environmental regulators to cover up the harm. The American Chemistry Council will lobby from its offices in Washington to ensure their industry stays strong, unruffled by allegations of poisoning Americans.

For industry to deliberately fund bodes such as the American Chemistry Council in order to use their pot of money to lobby and browbeat anyone who dares to expose their activities for what they are, is against humanity, against the planet we love and against all living things.

Giving no teeth to regulating bodies goes against common sense, unless we have a perverse incentive to give priority to providing high dividends for shareholders and keep the shareholders innocent of the harmful products being manufactured.

But shareholders can find out about the chemicals being used and carry out due diligence. They are careless if they remain ignorant about killing citizens with chemicals they are deriving wealth from. This is chemical warfare against citizens who are as innocent as the Jews were when led into what they thought was a shower chamber, but turned out to be a gas chamber.

Just because the poison takes years, like arsenic, instead of a few moments, there is no other difference. Poisonous substances have been spread throughout the globe due to the Chemical industry and people are dying prematurely as a result.

Science can only be of value if it lends itself to higher standards to safeguard all life on earth. The momentum for lower standards, allowing manufacturers to run amok and wreck the balance of nature, has reached a gruesome level of destruction.

Even today, the Summer Solstice, I read in the news of the US Navy testing a 40,000lb bomb, 100miles off Florida, shaking Daytona Beach, in order to check if an aircraft carrier’s structure could cope. This is a hideous example of insensitivity to the Atlantic Ocean’s marine life. There could be no justification that would convince me this was beneficial to the perpetuation of survival on earth. Simply another military complex test, like all the ‘tests’ since 1952 on Eniwetok atoll in the Pacific. We are in a constant cycle of hysterical destruction as if the accelerator is stuck on.

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There is an excellent Forbes of India article on how oxygen is made for use by patients in hospital.

There are three different ways:

  1. Vacuum Insulated Evaporator: Storage system of liquid oxygen

2. Oxygen Cylinders: hold oxygen under pressure

3. Oxygen Concentrators: Concentrates from a gas supply (typically ambient air*) to supply an oxygen-enriched gas stream. NB. Ambient air is typically 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. The extra 1% is made up of a combination of carbon, helium, methane, argon and hydrogen. The closer the air is to sea level, the higher the percentage of oxygen.

Hospital oxygen supplies have run out when the medical facility has been overwhelmed with patients and the storage system has become exhausted. This has happened in many countries.

First, the oxygen has to be manufactured. An example of the industry is INMATEC.

Those administering oxygen to people with lung problems have to be careful of side effects. It has to be monitored to avoid harm.

Medical oxygen is used to: 

  • provide a basis for virtually all modern anaesthetic techniques
  • restore tissue oxygen tension by improving oxygen availability in a wide range of conditions such as COPD, cyanosis, shock, severe haemorrhage, carbon monoxide poisoning, major trauma, cardiac/respiratory arrest
  • aid resuscitation
  • provide life support for artificially ventilated patients
  • aid cardiovascular stability 

Contraindications/side effects

There are no absolute contraindications to the use of oxygen but the inspired concentration should be limited in the case of premature infants and those patients with chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  However guidelines have been published by the British Thoracic Society (BTS) on the safe therapeutic use of medical oxygen, which encourages proper assessment of the patient before use.

Compressed medical oxygen toxicity may manifest itself in the following ways:

  • retrolenticular fibroplasia in premature infants exposed to oxygen concentrations greater than 40%
  • convulsions appear after a few hours exposure to medical oxygen at pressures above 3bar(g)
  • retrosternal soreness associated with coughing and breathing difficulties, made worse by smoking and exposure to cold air after breathing pure medical oxygen at atmospheric pressure for several hours.

If all health provisions is free at the point of need in a civilised country, then planning has to be extensive to secure sufficient oxygen infrastructure for the population of that nation.

Where only private care is offered to a small percentage of the population, then if, in the event of running out of supplies due to excessive demand (never planned for) it will lead to huge criminal networks selling oxygen to the highest bidder.

This pandemic has laid bare the weaknesses in health care infrastructure in many countries. There have been thousands of preventable deaths as a result. Covid kills in a dispassionate fashion. Loved ones are torn apart by the sight of family members dying in such an ugly way.

I have experienced, first hand, what it is like to lose the ability to breathe and know I am near death. We have an NHS which supplied me with oxygen before I faded. I did not have a huge bill to pay. I trusted the medical professionals and was so, so grateful to them.

Poor health planning and elitist health support have led to the disadvantaged having no chance to survive as Covid caused their lungs to fill, and be blocked.

This situation, the Haves and Have Nots, is now stark to see and the Pandemic hits hard, allowing variants to mutate at will where the poorly served people are left to die in such dire misery. Covid will never be overcome, even with vaccines, if we continue to ignore our obligations to our fellow human beings.

Bodies buried in shallow graves along the Ganges by those who could not arrange proper cremation
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The Air we Breathe

In 2019 I collapsed and was taken to hospital. The paramedics put me on oxygen and took me to hospital. When I breathed that oxygen I thought it was like being in our Glen, standing next to the burn flowing through the fells. It was like a miracle as I had become unable to breathe on my own. I was diagnosed with numerous small blood clots filling my lungs. I was put on blood thinners and two days later was able to go home and begin my recovery, which took about 18 months.

I already suffered from chronic asthma. My father was a chain-smoker and the consultant at the hospital suggested his smoking had probably damaged my lungs whilst I was still in the womb. I was born after the war. Then I grew up in industrialised Yorkshire, England. I had constant bronchitis and had to go to school despite the dreadful cough. I was reprimanded if I coughed in Morning Assembly and was often sent out for disturbing the service.

My older sister was born during World War II and hardly saw my father until he came home when she was 5 years old. She never had a cough, yet grew up by my side in the same house, in the same soot laden city full of harmful chemicals in the air.

I now live in a remote part of Scotland where the air is fresh and clean. The daily pollution levels are usually nil, or low. Since smoking was banned in public places, I rarely meet smokers. The tobacco industry has a lot to answer for and I wish Sir Walter Raleigh had never brought a tobacco plant home to England.

I wish everyone could breathe the air I breathe now, a vast improvement on city living, or being near mining or other industrial activities.

No matter how fresh the air here is, the Covid virus can flourish if the circumstances are in its favour. Lockdown and living in isolation has been a good preventative measure. Not everyone has that luxury, and some do not want to do that anyway.

We now know Covid virus transmission is airborne, like many toxins such as the manmade chemical PFOA (see my blog in March) unseen and being breathed in by those who cannot see or feel it penetrating their body system. In confined spaces, the virus spreads easily. In open spaces it does not find its victims as easily unless people are pressed close to each other, or shouting and yelling.

Indoor hospitality, gyms, schools, community places and of course hospitals, health care premises and workplaces of all kinds would benefit from clean air filter machines operating 24/7 to ward off the virus and other lung threatening material in the circulating air. Older air conditioning systems simply send the same air back around the building and trap the virus with the people in their building spaces. When people retreat inside to escape from hot and sticky weather, seeking to benefit from their air conditioning, even in a car, if they are with other people and the virus has arrived in their midst, it can spread very quickly to everyone in the building.

Long before the Covid virus arrived, a ventilation engineer called Henrik Hendrikson from Denmark, developed an air purifier. He was motivated to make the Rensair air purifier to help his son, who suffered from severe allergies. He has set an industry standard with his design. Today he sells the machines world wide and the UKs NHS is one of his customers. The model “uses a powerful fan to push pre-filtered air down into the cylindrical shaped H13 HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance – more commonly High Efficiency Particulate Air ) filter located in the middle of the unit”.

There are many other brands of Air Purifiers but the H13 filter is the one which sorts the wheat from the chaff.

You can read more about HEPA here.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is approximately 0.125 micron (125 nanometers) in diameter. It falls squarely within the particle-size range that HEPA filters capture with extraordinary efficiency: 0.01 micron (10 nanometers) and above.

The top HEPA filter suppliers are listed here. Many materials have been used since the last World War when they were trying to prevent dangerous substances being breathed in by members of the military in war situations.

Safe disposal of HEPA filters depends on the materials they have made them from. See here for an example where careful disposal is mentioned. Note they say: “

The frame consists of halogen-free plastic
and is exceptionally distortion-resistant,
moisture-resistant and fully incinerable.

If, like me, you have never heard of halogen-free plastic which was invented in response to such directives as WEEE, then read here for a useful lesson in what engineers devised.

Polypropylene, used in masks and PPEs, can filter out this dangerous coronavirus. You cannot safely incinerate polypropylene.

Everything we try to do to lessen the advantages for virus transmission we must do, but foolish human behaviour is the biggest threat to increased transmission. Passion plays a big part in throwing caution to the wind; sport enthusiasts, religious and music festivals, angry protests…….any big human gathering where people are closely together, singing, shouting and full of passion.

Since the pandemic began, we have seen many instances around the world demonstrating passion, overriding self protection. We have no filter to protect us from ourselves.

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