Cadmium has been substituted for lead in this children’s charm. Photo by Tony Dejak / AP.

On the news front, it seems as if we are being bombarded with scary information about how dangerous the world is that we live in.  Apparently toxic chemicals are out to get us and the environment we live in:  Chinese drywall in the home – chemicals killing sea life in the Gulf after the BP oil spill – lead in lipstick – toxic sludge invading homes in Hungary– lead poisoning millions of birds and animals – cadmium in children’s toys (pictured), poisoned milk killing babies in China.

What to do?  Step one, buy a shovel.  Step two, bury your head.  Well, it feels that way sometimes.  Watching the nightly news spot can be so ulcer inducing that it’s best to just turn it off!  But as we all know this is no way to behave if you’re actually going to be safe.  So, Step one, realize that your safety is in your own hands.  Taking daily precautions is always a good start.  In our previous post we mentioned washing, showering and laundering your contaminated clothes.   There are other precautions you can take to protect yourself and the ones you love:  Inform yourself.  The internet can be an empty void of nothingness but it can also be an incredible resource available to anyone who has an internet connection.  So we encourage all of you out there to find resources that can help you stay safe.

There are many websites that can help you identify dangerous chemicals in your environment, www.check4lead.com is a very helpful site that offers testing material for lead.  It even goes a step further by demonstrating how to use a testing strip.  Another example of a good resource online is www.ewg.org .  This site contains a lot of information for not only consumers but avid hobbyists, industrial workers and farmers.  The cosmetics database is helpful for finding out how hazardous your make-up and health and beauty products are.

Next, examine your activities to ensure that you are not exposing yourself:  your home (i.e.:  carbon monoxide monitor) – your workplace (safety managers can provide info. – OSHA, etc.) – your hobbies: stained glass, shooting at a range, renovating old houses.  Be aware of any inflammations or symptoms that may occur when working with potentially hazardous materials.  If you do notice any changes an allergy test could be great way to find out what’s eating you.  Also, it’s good practice to ask for a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for the products you use.

Ignoring these simple precautions can lead to health problems, especially with the most toxic of elements, i.e. lead mercury, cadmium and cobalt.

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