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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Natural Dangers

Eric Stevenson is a health and safety advocate who resides in the Southeastern US. He is very passionate about people's mental and physical health and how people can avoid environmental elements that can lead to chronic and terminal illness. We are pleased to feature Eric as a guest blogger on Oshun Spirit Living Light today!

When we hear something is “natural,” we tend to think of it as something good and healthy, or at the very least benign.  However, just because something occurs in nature does not make it good for humankind – or other life on the earth, for that matter.  The following substances can be found in nature, but should still be avoided.


Asbestos, though somewhat unusual and thread-like in appearance, is mined from the earth just like many other minerals.  Records of the use of asbestos go back thousands of years, as far as the ancient Greeks and Romans who knew that this mineral could be woven into cloth that could be thrown into a fire without burning.  However, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that commercial use of asbestos really took off.  It was put in nearly everything you could imagine – insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, wall panels, navy ships, small appliances, protective clothing, and much more.  Its fireproofing capabilities likely saved many lives, but not without dire cost.

The thread-like structure of asbestos is what makes it so dangerous – small, needle-like fibers can break away and float into the air, where they can be breathed in.  Once lodged in the tissues of the body, it is nearly impossible to remove these tiny fibers.  Over time, they can cause lung scarring, asbestosis, and even mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the lining of the chest. Mesothelioma symptoms like shortness of breath, pain or tightness in the chest, and fluid around the lungs are often confused with other, less serious lung ailments until the cancer has spread throughout the body.  Luckily, asbestos has largely been replaced in most products, but individuals renovating older homes and buildings should take caution and consult a professional if they believe asbestos is present.

Radon Gas

Like asbestos, radon gas comes from beneath the ground, but unlike the mineral, no mining or manufacture is required to bring this substance into the home.  Radon is a product of the breakdown of uranium, a radioactive element in the earth’s crust, and when it sublimates into a gas, it can leak up into the basement or ground floor of a home or other building.  The concentration of radon varies widely according to geographical location, so some people may not need to worry about it.  However, those within radon hotspots need to exercise caution and consider testing the air in their homes to see if they need additional ventilation to keep their homes healthy.  Though smoking is by far the number one cause of lung cancer, according to a National Institutes of Health  report on environmental cancer, radon gas is the second most common cause.

The good news is that, though both of these dangerous substances occur naturally, they can be avoided with a little awareness and planning.  Living a healthy life involves respecting the natural world and understanding what aspects of it we can.  Symptoms of mesothelioma and lung cancer are serious, but can in many cases be avoided by being aware of our surroundings and making healthy choices.

image credit: thelakemathewsnews.com

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