Canadians face up to 25,000 premature deaths annually and that costs the Canadian government more than $9 billion. These, among other statistics, were revealed in a new study published last week.
This is one of the first studies to estimate largely preventable exposures that resulted from exposures to air pollution, and numerous chemicals. It studied exposure to environmental hazards in four categories: respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer and congenital afflictions, because according to the authors of the study, there is strong evidence that connects them to the environmental contaminants.
According to Canada.com article, here are some sources of exposure and prevention tips:
The four major sources of our contact with toxic chemicals:
- Air: The air we breathe contains the biggest threat, from outdoor pollutants such as smog and combustion byproducts to indoor pollutants called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can be found in paint, carpet and plywood, eventually breaking down into a fine dust that is inhaled. VOCs are identifiable by their distinct smell, obvious in a freshly painted room or wet nail polish.
- Food: Apart from the chemicals in processed food, fruits and vegetables can also contain pesticide residue and traces of heavy metals.
- Water: Water quality varies between communities, but some tests have revealed miniscule amounts of lead and arsenic.
- Skin: From insect repellent to shampoos and cosmetics, the products we put on our skin remain with us.
Practical things you can do to protect your health from environmental threats:
- Shop smart: Avoid products that contain dangerous chemicals. For cleaning, use baking soda, vinegar and "green" soaps. Try natural cosmetics and skin-care products. Avoid materials containing VOCs and carcinogens.
- Bug off: There are safer alternatives to pesticides for your lawn and garden. Try using good bugs that eat bad bugs or mixing crops to minimize the use of chemicals.
- Keep clean: Remove your shoes at the door. Hard flooring is easier to keep clean than carpet. Be sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter, which catches small particles. Maintain your furnace and gas stove.
- Air it out: Minimize outdoor activity on poor air quality days. Don't smoke, avoid open burning of garbage and yard waste, and drive less.
- Healthy habits: Eat local, so your food has to travel less, and consume more organic fruits and vegetables.