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Forward to the Zero Emissions Future

Petrochemicals: The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction: Part I

I do not intend to instill fear in anyone. Fear is counterproductive. However, it is necessary to state with clarity and vision the wanton destruction that is occurring on this beautiful planet. It is absolutely imperative that the following information be assimilated and acted upon NOW or life as we know it will not survive another 60 to 70 years. This is a fact, not an opinion. I don't sugar-coat distasteful subjects, nor do I tread lightly when the future of our children and our planet are at stake.

Petro refers to oil, the kind that is non-renewable and drilled from the earth, a destructive process in itself.

Chemicals are man-made, the product of atomic and molecular changes. Petrochemicals are chemicals made from oil, natural gas or other fossilized hydrocarbons. When we think of an “oil crisis”, how many of us take into consideration the enormous amount of petrochemicals we produce and then dispose of every day?

Oil was formed from the remains of animals and plants that lived millions of years ago This is the reason it is considered “non-renewable”. Exploring and drilling for oil disturbs land and ocean habitats After crude oil is removed from the ground, it is sent to a refinery by pipeline, ship or barge. At a refinery, different parts of the crude oil are separated into usable petroleum products. Crude oil and natural gas are then refined into ethane, propane, and hundreds of other petrochemical products including fuel for your car. Refining means that the molecular structure is altered so that the oil no longer resembles anything found in nature. It is now a totally foreign toxic material that can never be changed back into its original form. It does not bio-degrade or photo-degrade. It cannot be removed from the environment, and it damages everything it comes into contact with. The following is a simplistic overview of the process of molecular change:

Atoms extracted from petrochemicals are formed into molecules known as monomers. There are many different types of monomers, which are then used to create polymers, large molecules consisting of repeating monomers. The polymers are often made into plastic pellets called nurdles. The nurdles are melted and dyed to form various plastic products. In the case of plastic bags, the repeating units (monomers) are ethylene, or ethane.

There are thousands of petrochemicals in ink, crayons, bubble gum, dishwashing liquids, deodorant, eyeglasses, records, tires, foods, toothpaste, ammonia, heart valves, the list goes on and on. The problem is that these chemicals are polluting our environment and we CAN”T GET RID OF THEM.

SInce the media almost invariably admonishes us that these petrochemical laden products are "healthy", "necessary", and just an everyday part of life that no one should think about or question, what is the problem? WHAT ARE THEY NOT TELLING YOU? There is the simple fact that we can NEVER get rid of them. But there's more. A LOT more.

The manufacture and incineration of plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC, commonly used in consumer product packaging and medical devices) is a major source of dioxin. Dioxins are also formed as byproducts of chemical processes involving chlorine, such as the manufacture of pesticides and the bleaching of paper.

Two of the most serious health effects of dioxin exposure are cancer and endocrine disruption. The petrochemicals that are so pervasive in our environment have especially adverse effects on rapidly growing fetuses and infants. Laboratory animals exposed before birth to one form of dioxin displayed physical deformities, retarded growth, and changes in physiology. Adverse effects on learning and behavior were also evident.

Many of the most studied plastics and other petroleum products are synthetic hormone disruptors known as xenoestrogens. They mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and disrupt normal hormone function and balance. "Xenoestrogen," means it's like the female hormone estrogen, except for two things: 1) it's foreign to the body, which is what "xeno" means, and 2) it is way more harmful than our natural estrogen for everyone, male and female. Breast cancers are much more of a risk in women who carry a high burden of xenoestrogens, and both sexes are subject to a huge range of other harmful health effects.

Xenoestrogens come from factories, not food. But they wind up in food because they get into the environment, where toxic organic pollutants like DDT can persist for more than 50 years. Even pesticides banned in the US can make their way back to our homes by way of imported fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Xenoestrogens are found in most plastic products, most commonly in bottled water. If you’ve ever wondered why so many women (and often men) nowadays have huge breasts, little girls are developing at younger and younger ages, PMS is rampant, and breast cancer rates are soaring, look at the incredible amounts of petrochemicals we are pouring into our environment every day, and pay attention.

Hormonal compounds disrupt the endocrine system of both animals and humans. Exposure to these molecules, even at low concentrations, can have severely damaging effects on the environment, to organisms, and to humans. The cumulative effect of these compounds is difficult to estimate. They are an immense danger to the environment and to the human population

Over the last 20 years, breast cancer alone has claimed more American lives than the Vietnam war , the Korean war, World War I, and World War II combined. Cancer mortality has risen from 5% of American deaths a hundred years ago to 25% today. Overall lifetime cancer rates for Americans have risen from one in four people in 1960 to 1 in 2 for men and more than 1 in 3 for women. When so many petroleum products and derivatives are known carcinogens, it’s hard not to see a connection.

Every hour Americans use and discard 2.5 million plastic bottles, totaling 22 billion a year. The polycarbonate that these bottles are made from releases a chemical known as bisphenol A, also know as BPA. A full 90% of government studies found harmful health effects especially to children and expecting moms, and also for male sexuality and reproduction.

Men exposed to pesticides (also made from petrochemicals which disrupt hormones) are far more likely to have defective sperm and low sperm counts than men who are not exposed. This is even true for men who do not work on or live next to farms but are likely exposed to pesticides in drinking water. The male sperm count worldwide has diminished an astonishing 50% in the last 60 years. This is unheard of in the entire history of humankind. What will happen in the next 60 years if we continue on this destructive path?

The most far-reaching effects of hormone disrupters from petrochemicals are birth defects and miscarriages. Another effect is a disruption of beta cell function in the pancreas, which creates a pre-diabetes type condition of high blood insulin and insulin resistance.

If breast milk from American women were bottled and sold commercially, it would be banned by the US Food and Drug Administration because it is contaminated with more than 100 industrial chemicals, including dioxins and pesticides. This is still less toxic than baby formula laced with refined sugar and chemicals stored in a can with a plastic coating.

Petrochemicals tend to accumulate in body fat. The most notorious petrochemical in body fat is polystyrene; studies have shown that virtually all people in the United States carry polystyrene in their body fat. The International Agency for the Research on Cancer has classified styrene as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Possibly?

In a study in Mexico, pesticide-exposed children were less proficient at catching a ball, had lower stamina levels, more trouble remembering things, and were less able to draw accurate drawings of people. This study is one of many documenting the negative effects of petroleum products on the brain. However the overall effects of exposure to pesticides, plastics, and air pollution remain largely unstudied. Most of these chemicals have never been tested at all.

Every year over 5,500 people in the US die from asthma.. This rise can be traced to increased environmental pollution, from both household sources, industrial, and motor vehicle pollution. Also implicated are the plastics and other petroleum products used in homes and buildings, such as carpeting and insulation. The “outgassing” of plastics used in building products creates serious indoor air quality issues which are known to cause increases in asthma and other serious allergic reactions.

Common sense dictates that the human body was not designed to consume petrochemicals. So why are we putting petrochemicals in our foods? Why are we slathering them all over our bodies so they can be absorbed through the skin? Why are we breathing them in and giving them to our precious babies to chew on? Why are we pouring petrochemicals by the ton on our crops, yards and water supplies? Why are we mindlessly destroying our environment, our health and our futures?

It is time we became aware of the toxins, endocrine disruptors and carcinogens that we are producing by the ton every day. What do you see for the future of this beautiful Earth if we continue with this mindless destruction?

Resources:

Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story.

Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction

The Carbon War: Global Warming and the End of the Oil Era

The End of Nature

FREE DOWNLOAD HealthBookSummaries:Appetite For Profit:How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health

Views: 307

Comment by Emett on August 16, 2010 at 4:49am
Featured as a highlight of the week!

I can't believe that more people aren't thinking about this!!! There's repeatibity in science, and we've tested all these theories for more than 10 years. I wish I could stay away from all plastics and pollution, but I have to face it, it's in me. It's in you. What should we do to protect our health? I have some answers, but we still need so much and some answers require more effort and work and energy, requiring more answers...

For example, I could stop using ziplock plasic bags for my lunch sandwiches and nuts and use Aluminum foil. But Aluminum foil has a high cost in terms of mines and energy for refining, and I find it harder to reuse on my end, although it does recycle perfect, if it makes it to the right recycle bin...

Glass, stainless steel, Aluminum, stone, wood, some papers, HEMP. Are good materials. But plastics can do things that these cannot. Nylon may be one "greenest" clothing materials out there, but does it leach poisons? I don't know for sure, but it comes from oil. However, burning oil and gas as fuel is the worst and biggest use.

Don't forget to protect yourself from all the environmental contamination with daily or every-other-day exercise! Sleep well, 7 hours in the dark if you can get it, and eat lots and lots fresh cleaned oragnic fruits, vegies, nuts and beans. If you must eat meat, go for organic and local -- no squirles, you can get mad cow disease from them! No fish, because fish eat other fish and concentrate the contaminates that way. More generally: no preditors.

Links to Amazon (and HealthBookSummaries) for the resource books:

Our Stolen Future

Lives Per Gallon

The Carbon War

The End of Nature

http://www.healthbooksummaries.com/AppetiteforProfit.html

Finally, thank you: Unpollute member Rebecca!!!

Readers read on, Rebecca's blog has more to offer... -e

peace
Comment by Rebecca on August 16, 2010 at 5:00pm
Thanks Emmet!
Yes, it's VERY difficult to stay away from petroleum products, just look around, everything is synthetic, made from petro. For starters, we do not buy any products that have synthetic chemicals...cleaning of all sorts is done with castile soap, vinegar, baking soda, peroxide etc. We do not use prescription or over the counter drugs, which are highly toxic and end up in the water supply. No processed food ful of chemicals and wrapped in layers of plastic. No shampoos or personal care products loaded with chemicals (millions of animals have suffered and died so we can pollute ourselves with these toxins)
There are lots of non-toxic alternatives, if you can afford them! Even disposable plates made from leaves!! I save all glass jars and carry everything: snacks, food, drinks, in glass, but I use bubble wrap (a million times over!!) to pack the jars. You could at least wash out and re-use your zip-lock bags, we re-use them over and over, when there is just no other alternative. We wrap stuff in wax paper, yeah the wax made with petro but sometimes you just have to. The thing that irks me is that all my organic food comes in layers of plastic. I've been known to stuff it in cracks and crevices to use as insulation, well at least it's not in a land-fill...yet. You just have to get inventive, we should start a discussion group about this sort of thing 'cause I bet some folks will have some amazing ideas.
Comment by Emett on August 16, 2010 at 9:30pm
Thanks, it is so great that we can share ideas here. These comment boxes work fine for discussions, don't you think? Plus, feel free to start a new Forum any time here, too many of the current Forums are started by me so they're all about only what I'm interested in! But I couldn't resist: Link to the new Forum here...

My wife would laugh about the cleaning out the zip locks because I'm always reminding the girls to bring them back from school lunchs and have a few hanging around drying in kitchen at any one time. It's funny, but after rinsing I kinda like snapping out the bags a causing a big spray of fine mist to go flying out. I just like the sound and the mist. But they don't last forever, and I had never thought of stuffing them into cracks as insulation! That's a great use for all that filmy plastic...

And yes, it's irritating that , for example, the organic sugar comes in plastic, while the mass produced "normal" sugar gets the much greener paper bags! Today I opened a can of organic pinto beans, and noted the can was lined in plastic. Arrgg. Food Grade Plastic. Is it really?

Glad you mentioned castile soap and the other alternative cleaners. Amazing stuff. Peroxide is cheap and awesome, how do you use it for cleaning? Just use it like Oxi-Clean? (I like oxi-clean, but I admit to not looking into it's green-ness yet. Note to everybody: bleach is bad! But it's hard to tell from researching it on the internet! Highly green-washed...) Borax is cool, and and 50/50 mix of borax and baking soda will clean the heck out of your dishes, but it's a little harsh on clothes (maybe I used too much...). Borax will even clean you, freshens without de-greasing... I think I'll go back to that myself, I think I'm been degreasing too much (turns out too hot of water can overly degrease you too, well me anyway...

thanks again. -e
Comment by Rebecca on August 20, 2010 at 5:33pm
Most of the can linings contain BPA too, especially canned ravioli and baby formula!
We try to stay away from all canned stuff too because of the plastic lining...geez more petro...but we still get a few things, like those delicious olives at Whole Foods that don't have the nasty ferrous gluconate in them, they actually taste like olives.
I just pour peroxide in the laundry and on the cleaning cloths to clean the house, I never checked oxy-clean, I'm not sure what it is even.
Oh yeah, bleach is horrible stuff, very toxic. And yeah, borax is amazingly natural and effective.
One thing about de-greasing...not good to use any soap of any kind on your skin, well except maybe underarms...'cause it removes the natural protective oily coating on your skin, then you tend to sunburn easily,get acne, and most importantly can't produce vitamin D after being out in the sun! It takes about a day for sunlight to turn into vitamin D, by interacting with the fatty acids on your skin and getting absorbed, but that can't happen if you take a shower and use soap to remove that protective layer!
Comment by Emett on August 5, 2020 at 12:40am

We've been ahead of the curve, finally here comes some mainstream science and legal issues awareness.  Here's some links. 

https://earthjustice.org/features/petrochemicals-explainer?utm_sour...

Weaker, but also mainstream: https://www.consumerreports.org/health-wellness/how-to-eat-less-pla...

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