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disaster preparation
nook and cranny
contamination problems
poisonous chemicals
radiation levels
china cup
Disaster Preparation Series 05: Contamination
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Disaster Preparation Series 05: Contamination

In a previous article we discussed chemical disasters. In this article we focus on things that don’t burn down the town, blow everything in sight to smithereens, and do not flood every nook and cranny with poisonous chemicals. We are discussing local contamination problems that affect families.

For example, where I use to live, farmers and their families sometimes turned yellow when nitrate fertilizers seeped into the ground water, poisoning their wells. Contamination of wells is fairly common here in Idaho and other farm communities. Some people end up drinking bottled water. My wife’s care-giver has a contaminated well.

Some homes are contaminated by radon, a radioactive gas that seeps up from the earth from rocks that have held the gas for eons. If the house is tight as a drum like an all-electric home, the concentration of radon builds up and the occupants are in danger of radiation sickness. It can be fairly expensive to put in a system to ventilate radon from a home but it is can be very effective. A kit that you place in your home for a certain time period is returned to a laboratory to see what the radiation levels are. It is not too expensive and if your areas is loaded with radon, then test your home to see what the levels are.

The family can use pottery from Mexico or craft pottery and obtain significant amounts of lead or cadmium which causes illness. My grandfather was “leaded” when a teenager and could not even walk. I worked on the lead problem for years. My focus was on the lead problem in ceramic dinnerware, going to Washington D.C. almost weekly. We assured that commercial dinnerware is safe. But don’t use a fine china cup to give your infant orange juice every morning even if the pottery is made in the United States, Europe, Japan or England. The juice is acidic and it will remove lead (if present) from the glaze.

Another source of lead is lead-based paint in old homes. Some kids like to pick at it and then put the flakes I their mouth. That is very dangerous for the child’s health. He can be injured physically and mentally. This is called pika.

Another problem in older homes and buildings is asbestos. When I was a college professor I use to analyze asbestos samples for attorneys filing clients claims. I worked in the asbestos business before and while I was in college. The owner’s of our company, brothers, both died from lung cancer from asbestos. Break linings use to contain asbestos possibly exposing factory workers and mechanics. During WWII, asbestos mechanics working in tight quarters were exposed and continue to suffer.

There are chemicals that workers can bring home on their clothing to contaminate the home and expose family members to the chemical. I worked with beryllium oxide for some time. It is a very dangerous chemical but can be handled safely by following the Atomic Energy Commissions Guidelines, but a worker must go home clean in different clothing. BeO also causes cancer in the long term just like asbestos. Incidentally, I also worked with OSHA in controlling lead in the workplace.

Household chemicals can be a problem to children. Everybody knows that. I was traveling around the Minnesota farm country years ago when my veterinarian son, who was then a large animal vet, got a call from a farm that had a sick parakeet. Dutifully we drove over there. My son looked a the bird and around the kitchen. He asked if the bird was ever free to “tour” the kitchen. The lady of the house said he was. My son asked if the bird ever landed on top of the refrigerator. He did. My son took down a container of plant fertilizer and told the lady to keep the bird away from it. It was the cause of illness.

I remember on that trip that my son put down a huge plow horse with a few milliliters of liquid. Blood was spurting from the great horse’s foot. Too my amazement my son was able to dig in there and tie of the artery but more amazing was the fact that a tiny amount of chemical can drop a humongous horse. That is why we should be careful with chemicals at all times.

If you are new to a rural area you may want to contact a member of the Soil Conservation Service (County Agent) to see what hazards there are in your new area. There are warnings on the chemicals we use in the home and in the garden. We should follow proper procedures and heed the warnings. We also need to know what to do if someone comes in contact with a particular poison. Get the OSHA MSDS sheets for the chemical you use.

Some of the most dangerous chemicals in the home are weed killers and insecticides. You need a special secure place to store such chemicals.

Fly Old Glory!


Street Talk

Barbara9  

great article

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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