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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Saving The Last Supper

One of the most famous works of art is “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci in Milan. It has been under threat before not only by the effects of time but from all the troubles of the past centuries.

Now it is under threat again:

So it seems that what war, poverty, disaster and other events have failed to do modern consumerism may be about to achieve.

With the help of the chemical products and all those particles that so many of us are frantic to buy to help us look prettier.

But as pretty as a picture?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Travelling With Nanoparticles

In the world of consumer and related products the research and effort into new and more powerful goods is a great deal greater than that into the possible effects and consequences of their use.

Nanoparticles have been discussed before and their use is now widespread in so many household and personal products that very few people can avoid them or even discover if they are in use. They are assumed to be necessary and a good thing. That is good because they help the hype of marketing.

One study recently titled “Nanoparticles Used as Additives in Diesel Fuels Can Travel from Lungs to Liver” from Marshall University has found that the additive cerium oxide used to increase the efficiency of diesel fuels can make its way into the liver from the lungs and with toxic effect.

The nature and functioning of the toxicity needs further study. The full article is here:

We know from the information available that basic products are now highly complex with a wide range of varied chemicals, largely synthetic, for the uses for which they are designed. We do not know the extent to which they impact on our bodies.

As anyone who has travelled by road does know, there are a lot of trucks and other vehicles that use diesel about and so a lot of nanoparticles being pumped out of the exhausts to go where they will.

If this form of pollution has toxic effects what other toxic delights do we get?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Finding The Food

Channel 4 has been running a programme called “The Food Hospital”. It takes a number of varied cases of people suffering from a number of different conditions. They have all reached a serious level of ill health and the purpose is to try to deal with their illnesses by means of careful diet control rather than medication.

It is refreshing to see something that goes for the causes rather than the effects. Many illnesses are more difficult to deal with in this way but even some of those can be made less difficult by care with the diet.

One matter that did strike me was that in some cases to help clear and rest the system a liquid diet was given for a few days to be augmented and later replaced by recommended foods. Sometimes this was done to identify any food that might be a trigger for an outbreak of the illness.

The liquids in question were carefully prepared concoctions designed to ensure enough of the vital nutrients and vitamins necessary to health and to help rebalance the body intakes of these. So if these are easily and readily available, how is it that in so many hospitals and care homes actual malnutrition is occurring so often?

Clearly some of these, which are easily assimilated with other basic healthy foods could mean that there is never any need for malnourishment. It also means care over hydration levels as well but to have patients going nowhere suffering dehydration is astonishing.

Beyond that much of the discussion and analysis with patients was about body chemistry and how to deal with the different issues arising. With quite a number of illnesses covered overall a good deal of complicated chemistry is involved.

Which lead to the curious feature of a programme whose essence is the chemistry of the body in relation to food ignoring totally and never mentioning other forms of chemical impact on the body. Yet in many cases clearly the people involved must have been experiencing other types of chemical impact.

Why should this be? Perhaps there are two basic reasons. One is that the firms producing personal and household chemicals could well have created enough trouble for the programme makers to make the message about food lost.

Another is that as this is commercial TV and with so much of its vital advertising revenue coming from the marketing and production of these products it would be far too risky to the finances to suggest in the programme that these could be a factor in a number of the illnesses.

So at one stage in the viewing when a major advertisement feature came up for a personal product it was odd to see being pushed as desirable one that makes my stomach turn whenever I encounter it. What was ironic was that it appeared after the specialists were dealing with a patient with chronic inflammation of the gut.

You win some you lose some…………

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Using Our Heads

In the Daily Mail recently there has been a run of articles featuring ladies, usually young, who have had a severe reaction to hair dye. This one is the latest and is typical of the others.

We have had the same experience. My wife, near thirty years ago had a marked reaction when using hair colouring and gave up using it. This was followed by taking great care to choose which shampoos or anything else for hair.
Since then the various dyes and treatments have been stronger and more extensive and claim to do all sorts of things to the hair to make it brighter and better.

But where we sometimes stand for performances we look down at the heads in front. The evidence of my eyes tells me that a lot of younger lades these days have hair that is thinner than those of the past and often very brittle.
It seems that the more the hair deteriorates the more products are used to correct the trouble and the stronger they are.

Also, there is the issue of the cases were some ladies we have known who have used strong dyes on a regular basis for some time have developed tumours. This may be coincidence but there are suggestions that some are at risk.

Taken together with all the other products and materials going onto and into the body and the huge increases in the last two to three decades when will we begin to see some of the consequences more evidently?

One of the major difficulties is that research into this costs money and little or none is forthcoming for anything that does not “add value”. Since we have cut down radically on products we doubt we have saved a great deal.

If there is an evident increase in the serious effect of the impact of many of these products, when will the community at large and government be prepared both to admit and to address the causes?

Friday, 28 October 2011

Gulf War Syndrome

The article below arises from the continuing research from what is known as “Gulf War Syndrome”, the debilitating condition endured by many troops that were engaged in that conflict.

These troops were involved with high levels of activity in high chemical environment and subject to continuing stress and contamination.

Moreover, as the operations were mounted quickly they were given a number of injections to prevent medical conditions in a short period of time. This would have given quite a build up of substances in the blood stream.

For most us now, trying to even avoid a high chemical contact is very difficult and they are becoming more and more powerful. To add to that the medications and other things given routinely to try to mitigate the side effects will have an effect.
Just how close these are to the conditions that these troops experienced is difficult to assess, but it may be becoming much nearer by the year.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Researching Research

Here are a couple of links both to the Dr. Mercola site. This is a very individual site offering a good deal of sensation, plus its own products, but from time to time and looked at with care can some up with matters of interest.

It has recently paid a lot of attention to mercury as a poison in all too common use and the dangers of fluoride and the high levels now encountered in various ways.
This item is amongst the most worrying:

Here we have what was regarded as an important piece of research, seminal to later research, which is now under serious suspicion. Which raises the question that if this happens at the highest levels in a supposedly dedicated academic institution what might have happened elsewhere?

Another campaign by the Dr. Mercola site is about the sweetening agents that have taken the place of sugar in so many food products to cater for people who want to have low calorie intake but retaining the impact of the sweetness they often crave.

Is this again another case of commercial high power chemical products being used both extensively and indiscriminately without regard for real testing or effects?

Returning to the first matter, it is not long ago that the UK Advertising Standards Authority rejected a complaint about Lynx, an especially strong deodorant, on the basis of research submitted by the makers, Unilever, public relations firm.

Just what can you trust?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Knowing The Nose

It ought to be a commonplace that anything that goes up the nose is going to impact on the brain one way or another. Just as much as we accept that particulates going into the nose can end up in the lungs.

The question is what happens when they get there? For the most part the human set up is able to deal with a huge variety of nasal intake. It is all part of earth and our surroundings. This article indicates that we know more about the effects these days than in the past.

One issue that I have found worrying when we go out and about is often the sense of smell is knocked out by one experience or another. Bad traffic fumes are one. Being in a room which is a strong mix of varied substances is another. My memory of military gas training is yet another.

In the last decade or so the personal and household products industry have made an assault on the sense of smell in the inclusion of strong aromatics into very many products and in ventilating systems. Yet there has been little research into this and what it is all doing to our brains.

Brains mean how we function and our behaviour patterns. Also the brain is highly sensitive to changes in blood flow and content and intakes from the atmosphere. So when the aromatics etc. knock out the sense of smell not only is it deforming one of the basic senses it must be having other effects.

Yet our health authorities are evading the issue and frantically try to divert discussion into a debate on Pavlovian reactions when questions of toxicity arise.

Something must he happening, but what?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Fishy Business

The article in the link below relates to something that many people have suspected. It is that if a new technique is discovered and applied to too many things too quickly then what can happen can be unpredictable. This is about nanoparticles and their impact on the brains of fish.

This might seem a distance away from humans but we do not know that. We do know that it is possible to take out and examine a large number of fish brains but as we cannot do that easily with humans exact comparisons are difficult.

At the moment it is becoming evident that many humans urged on the makers and those who market them are effectively sandblasting their bodies and to some extent their brains with a wide array of chemicals.

A number of those already give cause for disquiet about their long terms effects. But as more and more are subject to nanotechnology to increase impact from reduced quantities of active substances then the effect is likely greater. The cost advantages are one reason for this.

As my two theses are firstly that anything that goes up the nose can affect the brain and that the blood circulates there are problems. One is that the makers deny that the first can be proven and the second that the blood might circulate but the substances they use by some miracle of science do not to any effect.

We shall see but it will not be a happy business.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Gulf War Syndrome

Gulf War Syndrome, the issue of many former soldiers and others who took part in the various major military engagements in the Gulf in the last twenty years has been a source of serious debate.

The governments involved at first preferred to suggest that it was either a purely temporary mental condition or the difficulties that the troops had was down to later or other causes.

There is a great deal on the web on this issue and the American Veterans have had a lot say. In the UK there has been the usual shifty evasions and lack of interest by politicians in this issue, encouraged by the financial interests that so many have in Defence contractors of one sort or another.

Here are a few links below which indicate that at last there is beginning to be some proof of the major features of the problem. Much of this is due to advances in medical research and techniques.

Quite simply nearly all the troops had a series of major injections in a very short period. Then in the course of action there was a major battery of chemical effects on the body and brain.

Some were better able to withstand this, but some were not. The reasons for this are complex and to do with the differences in the genes in body biochemistry.

But when one looks today in ordinary life and sees the range of medical interventions, notably in the young and the huge array of strong chemicals now routine in home and the environment people are going to be affected.

If GWS is any guide it will not be predictable as to what effect or the extent or the proportion who are more badly affected.

But it will be there and it is growing.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Followers Of Fashion

Quite when “fashion” began is hard to tell. Perhaps when a female hominid a million years ago decided to put some flowers together and put them in her hair or round her neck. Perhaps it was a male who enjoyed painting his face to frighten the neighbours.

As soon as others began to copy then it all began especially when one adornment or means of covering the anatomy came to be replaced by others. Doubtless there was soon a hierarchy when those who wore the skins of major or ferocious beasts looked down on those clothed by squirrels or rats.

Fashion almost always comes at a cost. To be a beaver when beaver pelts became the must have thing for some river dwellers was not good news. The ladies of the highest classes who used white lead to paint their faces in the 18th Century paid a terrible price for keeping up with the peer group.

The link below is just another step along a well trodden and usually dirty highway. There is nothing new in toxic products used in clothing, the mad hatters of Luton knew all too well what could happen.

The trouble now is that the globalization of clothing production and the ratcheting up of the marketing and media campaigns to increase turnover and encourage a throwaway short term fashion centred consumer society is now costing us all a great deal.

And we don’t know the real price we are paying.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Paying Attention

A couple of articles taken together here dealing with pesticides and with attention disorders in children. I suspect that we have little idea of the effect of chemical impact on the brain in developing children and what the effect it might have.

The first link related to the issue of inattention as another issue from hyper activity. The two may be related but this is not necessary.

The second link deals specifically with the pesticide issue. This is a useful one because the chemistry and distribution of pesticides are relatively a known and can be more easily identified than other contaminants.

Looking back it is clear these days that children are subject to a much greater battery of chemical intervention and content in their environment, the air they breathe, the food they eat and in many other ways.

If these affect other parts of the body one way or another then there must be some sort of effect on the brain.

Monday, 5 September 2011

What Next?

The doom mongers have been busy recently. Inevitably as the supply has risen doom has become a cheaper commodity. For some obscure reason most people are not increasing their demand for doom, so there are a lot of cut price versions about. There does seem to be an increase in the demand for things that get you high and happy but this is simply increases the basic resources to feed the supply of doom.

The BP business and the political fall out have attracted a good deal of attention. One aspect of the blow out has been suggestions that a lot of methane has been leaking out into the Gulf as well as the oil. Some scientists have claimed that in the distant past there have been two occasions when major methane emissions have all but ended life on earth.

The late Auberon Waugh had a theory that the methane emitted from the rear end of cattle was a major source of world pollution. But the scientists suggest that large methane bursts of up to twenty miles wide would be enough. If the deep sea drillers going down into tricky geology do not really know what they are going to find, they could trigger one. It means we can stop worrying about Iceland; at least for a week or two.

But radical and rapid change can occur in our arrangements without us noticing or paying much attention to what is happening around us. Back in the early 1950’s I was put on standby to go to Southampton docks where a strike was impacting on food imports. Luckily, a flu epidemic happened which stopped that and also the strike because dockers on strike did not get sick pay. Then dock strikes for many reasons were a feature of the UK economy and politics.

Late in the 1950’s I was at a meeting with Jack Dash, a leader in the Dock unions, who became a major figure and was reviled by the media. In a meeting away from notice he was a decent sort of bloke, very much a worker and a believing communist who was thoughtful and well read. I thought he was badly wrong but that how to organise and deploy large numbers of manual workers when work on the docks was variable both in nature and from week to week was a difficult business.

What none of us at the meeting and for that matter in government and the economy realised and could not see was that the old ways were about to end. The change would not simply affect the docks but the whole structure of transporting and distributing goods. The effects would be world wide and impact on whole economies.

There had been a number of different ways of carrying goods by some form of container in the past, but only small scale and often localised. In 1956 Malcolm McLean of the USA began to use an altogether better and more worked out method for doing it on ocean going ships. By 1970 international agreements on the standardisation of containers meant that the concept had become world wide.

In the 1970’s I realised it by accident. On a number of occasions I travelled from Hull to Europort in Rotterdam, also from Felixstowe to Zeebrugge and a couple of other North Sea routes. For anyone with half an eye and a bit of experience it was easy to see how transportation had changed. What took longer to dawn on me were the wider implications for the UK and the world.

Clearly the old British system of docks and distribution was doomed as were the jobs of the dock workers and the whole complicated structure of company and union ways of negotiation and doing anything. It was going to mean radical, rapid change and extensive upheaval and investment.

This happened, yet few of the general public noticed. Except for a few wild eyed off the wall eccentric forecasters that nobody with any sense or influence would listen to. I was aware that things had to change, but in my innocence felt that this could be done within the present structures and would assist existing commerce and industry. The relentless stupidity of managements, politicians, and unions was something I did not foresee.

This can apply in science as well. When Barry Marshall and Robin Warren in Western Australia, far from main stream science, came up with the thesis that the bacteria Helicobactor Pylori was a major factor in causing ulcers and severe gastric problems they transformed a major area of medical treatment and saved millions from decades of pain and misery. It also meant a large number of surgeons had to find other kinds of work and hospitals reorganised. They knew that they might change things but not the extent of the impact.

So what is going on out there now that has already started and will gather strength and impact in the coming decade? What is it that could change all our lives and we will not see it until it is too late and we will make an unholy mess of the period of transition? It could be none of the things that lead the current fashions of change prediction or of impending doom.

It could be something quite simple and not noticed; someone or something we have never heard of and take no account of. Then when it happens we might wonder what has hit us and why. For anyone adversely affected the issue will be who to blame and how to prevent the inevitable.

It could be nice or it could be nasty. I will return to this in 2020.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Frock Horror

Over the last few years when trying to buy clothing, often we pass bargains up because the item I want does not smell right. It has been difficult to place, but was usually a sharp sour smell.

But often, we take a chance and give them a wash before wearing. This has usually taken away the smell but at the cost of the garment losing texture and sometimes colour.

It means that cheap clothing means cheap materials. They do not last and the colours soon change. But we live in a throwaway culture and it is now very expensive and difficult to find old style materials which will last for years.

It was obvious that the stiffening and the rest must have been a chemical treatment of the cloth during manufacture. Quite how bad this is now being revealed and is receiving attention. It does not make pleasant reading:

What has been worse is that to cover the smell and other smells that clothing might pick up, it is now common to add fragrance substances. These, typically, are designed to last for at least ten dry cleaning operations or thirty washes.

Effectively, that means well beyond the “life” of most of those garments. All is not lost because we still have some garments bought decades ago that still last and do not have these problems.

But we are still reluctant to wear them, not because of fashion, but all too often out there they will pick up fragrances and deodorant substances which cannot be washed out at all.

It is not a win/lose situation, it is now lose/lose.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Heavy Water

It is a common place now to suggest that one of the major issues for humanity is the water supply in economics and communities across the world. The growth of population; the additional need for water for production, not just of food but in many industries and other requirements have begun to run ahead of supplies now and in the future.

This applies to all economies. For the poorest it is largely self evident, for the richest it is a matter of realising that major infrastructure work is now urgent and decisions have to be made soon and acted on quickly.

But it is not just gross supply there is the matter of quality. There are many potential contaminants and pollutants both in the sources and in the distribution. The USGS have been routinely monitoring US supplies as does Europe and others. Many countries have limited or scant monitoring facilities.

The article below from New Scientist deals with one form of pollution that is becoming more common and is as dangerous as any, the presence of heavy metals at levels much higher than the human body can tolerate.

These arise from various forms of major and other industry notably in much of modern technology. But these metals, now in fine particle form can be found in many consumer products, whether we realise or not.

Once into the soil or penetrating to ground water or simply in ordinary water the extent is building up and we do not yet realise that sometimes critical levels are being reached.

An essential source of our well being and life is slowly being damaged and for some populations could soon be at the point of no return.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Mind Matters

Around thirty or more years ago I was involved with a number of people dealing with the placement and education of youngsters with significant learning and behavioural problems. It was not an easy business. Our psychologists were firmly wedded to their tests.

That these had been published and were based on their own data etc. did not help because any questions or added considerations in relation to placements could make a dent in the income they derived from the sales or even destroy the findings of their research.

Meanwhile our elderly local consultant psychiatrist was a devoted Jungian. This was all very well but unhelpful and a cause of recrimination when I was suggested other medical issues could be involved. He was as resistant to other medical investigations as were the psychologists.

For both these what had really got their backs up was when with other doctors we had put in hand extensive vision and hearing tests for every child at the bottom end of the ability range. Even we were shocked by the numbers who were found to have a clear problem to one extent or another.

What was a particular worry to me was how little anybody knew at that time about what exactly was going on in the brain, a highly complex organ about which there were may theories but few real facts. What put the cap on it was when a senior official from Whitehall came round our region telling us how many youngsters with a particular rare problem we should have.

He was a classicist wholly ignorant of the science of statistics and its more intricate implications. As the problem in my view was a brain problem and unusual I felt we had to deal with them on a case by case basis and not just apply a rubber stamp dictated by officials.

Time has moved on and mercifully we are beginning to learn more. The first link concerns how scientists can now find more information from modern methods of looking into the brain.

This deals with the increase in numbers given CT scans in hospitals in America and these are increasing regarded there as necessary to dealing with a wide range of conditions.

This one refers to the importance of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease to be seen by neurologists as well as or rather than other disciplines:

What a pity it is that it is so difficult in the NHS for even severe stroke victims to have the benefit of all this. Unless, of course, you are a professional footballer with significant toe damage.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Science Down The Pan

If anyone wondered just how much science and to what level is given to the making and content of many consumer goods, the article below is an indication. It is about slow release mechanisms in applying fragrance chemicals.

The money comes from, I quote, “Gudmundsdottir's team has received research support from the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund, UC's University Research Council, Ohio Supercomputer Center and the English Speaking Union.”

In short a good deal of public money is involved that is primarily educational in intent. This is the article:

There is the aspect of the medical application, but in the article this is secondary to the importance of achieving the objectives to the smell of cleaning fluids.

It is good to know what the academic priorities of our science research are about. First, make the toilet smell stronger and longer, second think about whether there is any use in treating the sick.

There is no current research in the UK into dealing with or treating perfume allergy or the inflammatory lung conditions arising from chemical pollution.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Personal Magnetism

In the last decade or so with the increase in the number, power and variety of electronic products a little known effect has been that numbers of people have been sensitized to the magnetic fields they produce.

How many is not known and it is rarely diagnosed except in the more extreme cases where it is apparent that exposure to high or any level gives a marked reaction.

With electronics, often complex, now embedded and necessary to many of the products now necessary to modern life quite what the extent and implications are is giving rise to greater debate.

This Science Daily item is about research which raises that question that Asthma in childhood might be encourage or caused by exposure to magnetic fields.

We all are on a planet which depends on its magnetic fields for survival. Our bodies are all within this and contain elements of magnetism. There has to be the possibility that too much could disrupt.

It is also possible that reactions may vary between individuals and groups. Also that it might affect the unborn as much as the living.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Traffic Pollution, More Bang For The Buck?

Below are a couple of links on the subject of traffic pollution. This has been around in the modern form for much of the last century because of motorised road transport. At one time it was common to have lead in petrol, but this has been curbed now after the health implications were finally accepted.

Also, we have monitoring of pollution. But this took a long while to bring in and was based on earlier data. Since then the continuing development on fuel technology has changed what is in the fuels and the particle sizes. Additionally, the drive for better fuel efficiency means that the fuels are working harder.

It is my contention that the power and impact of the pollutants now pushed into the air is far greater than in the past and is having wider and greater effects. The link below is an indicator of what may be happening in terms of asthma.

Further to this is the situation in the centre of major urban areas and what is beginning to happen to the children who live in them.

It may be my imagination, but when I find myself in heavy traffic or crowded streets I feel that what is hitting my sense of smell is much greater than in the recent past.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Mouth Watering

Amongst the many poisons and damaging substances we now rely on for our lifestyle and personal presentation is Fluoride. We have it urged on us to help our teeth.

That it damages them in turn is only to be expected. We are told that if we do not use it then all the sugar we consume will do worse damage. The option of cutting out the sugar is possible but our modern diet is full of it.

This video in the link lasts just over four minutes and is one of a series. It is clearly spoken, if in an American accent and easy to watch.

Whether it is easy to accept all the implications of what is said is another matter.

It is just a little scary.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

I Talked To The Trees But They Stopped Listening

When we are looking at the substances in our homes and on our persons we can forget the others out there somewhere.

Notably, on our own or our neighbour’s gardens, or in the local parks and gardens and other green spaces.

Because we like to control what is there rather than letting nature take its course and we do not have the time or inclination these days to do it by hand so there has been a market created for chemicals to do the job for us.
The trouble is sometimes they do more than we expect or want them to.

The Imprelis herbicide story is a recent one in a long list of questions about the various products used to control plants.

Essentially, what may get onto and into the plants is likely to get onto and into us.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Difficult To Stomach

Recalling when The School Milk Act was passed in 1946 and youngsters in school were given one third of a pint of usually tepid milk to swill in the morning break, the general idea was that it would be beneficial to health.

This was before the days when the great majority of modern agricultural practice and essentially cattle were reared and milked on very basic systems. Of course there were always risks of contamination or bugs but not to the extent of today.

This item in the Daily Mail derived from research in Spain illustrates what the situation is now:

The contents of the milk are not far removed from the contents of other types of food. Whatever gets into the animals from whatever source may well get into the food.

Whatever comes out of the animals other than milk can get into the soil and also into the water and therefore into the food chain for livestock and people.

It is not just the milk.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Fat Shampoo

Probably, the reasons for the modern plagues of obesity are more complicated than we think. There is so much involved in terms of the way we live, work, travel and differ from previous generations to be certain.

Our problem is that we prefer to seek out a single cause and having done so we may or may not deal with to reduce the risks. Then we discover that this answer is still not enough and there are still other possibilities.

The article, linked to below, puts up another candidate for us to think about. It may or may not be something that adds to the risks. But if the hormones and their connections are important then it is one more thing to worry about.

It is not just the shampoo. These chemicals are present in a wide range of items. As these are in the shopping baskets of nearly all the population quite how much disruption they cause and to whom is going to be difficult to assess.

It is now a few years since I used shampoo’s or any soap which contained the usual chemicals. Mostly, it is plain water and a good sized flannel. If anything I am cleaner as the natural oils have re-established themselves as cleansers.

Alas, it has done nothing to remove weight.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Lux Not So Lumine

What astonishes me is the apparent absence of common sense amongst the population at large, never mind forgetting the lessons of history.

Quite why it should take scientific research of a high order to establish what is very obvious is a comment on the way our minds have been warped by the onslaught of marketing and advertising.

This item on scented candles is a choice example.

If you have something burning with an open flame it will discharge stuff into the air. If this is indoors in a room with limited ventilation then you will breath it in. Also, it will affect your skin and clothing.

The trouble is that something burning might have an acrid or other strong smell that you do not like much. So you buy something that has strong chemicals to deliver a smell that is designed to please people.

This does not send the other stuff away as it is suggested, it just is stronger and designed to impact more. In order to have a pretty effect you might have several of them burning away.

For those of us who grew up in the age of coal, open fires and power cuts, our memories of smoke and candle light are not the happiest ones. Our parents and grandparents could not wait to put in electricity to get rid of all the work and chiefly the smells.

Also, as all the authorities used to tell us as the time, air pollution is bad, fresh air is good. In the mid 20th Century we began to achieve an environment that was cleaner and better for us.
Now we are putting back the dirt into the drawing room.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Work Is A Four Letter Word

Articles appeared in the media about an employee who was dismissed for failing to wear make up as instructed by her employers. So I decided to join in the debate as follows:

Further to the media comment on the case of Ms. Melanie Stark and her dismissal from Harrods said to be because of her reluctance to wear cosmetics as required by the Harrod’s Dress Code.

I note that for males, cosmetics are not required but that apparently anti-perspirants and deodorants are stipulated.

There are added issues here which are not covered in the media.

The first is that increasing numbers of people at the present time are becoming adversely affected by these products. The degree and nature of reaction can vary and often it is very difficult to pinpoint the agent or agents in the products that are causal to the reactions.

Nevertheless, there is now an increasing literature on the subject and in many parts of the world the reality of multiple chemical sensitivity or other significant medical problems that can develop is widely recognised, although not in the UK.

Who might contract these problems is also a question. However, it seems very likely that someone who already has some form of compromise to the immune system or has suffered a severe viral or chest problem can be vulnerable.

If a person either already has a continuing issue or could be at risk then avoidance of products or substances is a logical and sensible course of action to take. If a person is already having more substantial reactions then avoidance might become critical.

There are other issues of long term health notably where sprays may be involved. One is that little is known of the long term effect on the vital organs but there is now increasing evidence that heavy use of the relevant chemical agents is a common factor in endocrine and other impairments of the reproductive systems.

To put it crudely, heavy use of some male deodorants might have significant effects on the lungs and reproductive systems of males.

The advent of fine particle (nano) technology has increased the impact and effect of very many products. I note that the HSE now has advice and warnings about work places in which nano particles may be present. One key disease is Pulmonary Fibrosis, which is both debilitating and incurable.

The extreme end of toxic/allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, the highly dangerous and potentially terminal immune system shock which can lead to a collapse of the brain and breathing function within a few minutes.

You will appreciate that these factors are very different from the wearing of a uniform, or clean tidy dress, or combed hair etc.

It is my view that an employer who insists on high levels of chemical usage by all staff as a necessary condition of employment is both discriminatory against those with any skin, breathing, or allergy issues and possibly in some circumstances depending on the pollution levels within the store an active danger to long term health.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Weighting Game

The groans can be heard for miles. As if there is not enough comment, advice, information or preaching about body weight and the rest around the web and the media.

Like many other matters these days a good deal of it can come back to the chemistry. For much of what is on offer these days is the product more of that than of the ways and means of the past.

One issue has been sweeteners. Sugar used to be expensive but became cheaper and cheaper and so we became bigger and bigger. So less sugar but we cannot learn to do without the sharp heavy hit sweet taste so in come the artificial replacements.

Now it is turning out that these are no better and indeed could stimulate the appetite as well as doing other kinds of harm. This article illustrates the issue:

Just what most people can do in the modern world is difficult to work out. The one thing that is certain is that it will not be easy.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Issues Of Toxicity

Three links below connecting to various aspects of toxic effects. The Dr. Mercola web site is an American one which covers a great deal of ground. It is sometimes on the strident side but much of it is science based albeit with a bias to the dangers of modern consumerism.

The first link deals with commercial moisturizers to the effect that they are doing you far more harm than good.

The next is that covering the skin with spray tan to avoid one thing can put you at risk of another serious issue along with the other effects of chemical tanning.

Last, but far from least is how you test and what for. The test results may only be as good as the testing procedures. Given that modern technology can enable a product to be formulated to avoid showing on tests this is important. It is very likely that tests put in place only a few years ago may be inadequate to deal with recent product development

All in all, they point to a range of problems that are now worsening.

Friday, 17 June 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Many people will be active in their gardens at this time of the year and the farmers have been busy in the fields.

One thing common to them is the amount of weed killers, pesticides and other plant control substances that are being scattered about. Usually, scant attention will be paid to the small print on the packet, in the delivery system or on the tin.

In some cases it seems that all that effort might lead on to the growth of bigger and better weeds, never mind resistant bugs of one sort or another:

The article below is concerned with glyphosate and the major products it is present in:

There is more on the subject here:

And to add to all that:

So when you do have a bit of time to sit on the grass or sunbathe make sure you have a good shower afterwards.  Or perhaps a spell in the decontamination cell.

You could just leave a lot of it alone, say the dandelions, they are edible and can being used in various brews, temperance as well as alcoholic.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Advertising Break

It is rare for an advertisement to feature in these pages, but the one above comes to you from The Daily Mash, whose mission is truth in politics.

Since I have been using this product now for seventy years and more, or if not many like it, I can assure everyone that it certainly works.

The real secret is to have a vitamin free diet as well.

To ensure that there is a measure of balance and to allow for the other side to make a case you could try this link:

Keep slapping it on!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Taking A Dip Into The Past

One thing leads to another. The question was who exactly was Anna Beddoes the daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth and wife of Dr. Thomas Beddoes? Wikipedia has a decent entry on Dr. Beddoes which only takes you so far but another web site has a picture of the lady, above.

Beddoes was a leading scientific figure of his time, although little known today. Both Michael Faraday and Sir Humphrey Davy were with him in their early careers. His connection to the Edgeworth’s brought links to the major literary and political figures of the period.

Davy was the man who amongst his scientific achievements identified chlorine as an element which caused me to look at that subject. This took me to my local swimming pool, as I keep saying, all things are connected.

Several years ago I had to give up the daily swim I enjoyed because it became clear that the increasing skin problems being experienced were the result. Talking to the pool manager, who we knew, he told me that in recent years the chlorine level in the pool had been increased to near maximum because of the levels of other substances from people that were impacting on the effect of the chlorine.

We are aware of the issues that can arise from extensive use of petro-chemicals and from other causes, but looking at chlorine and all its derivatives and uses it is astonishing to see how their use has been extended in recent decades.

Clearly this element and all that has followed from it has advanced our ability to do many things and create many products that are both useful and necessary to modern living. But are we now making too much use of all the things in which chlorine based substances can be found?

Just how much and in what context can it become toxic? Well Chlorine Gas certainly is and I have a reliable source in Grandad who landed in the military hospital as a result of encountering it during WW1. Apparently, use may result in some types of plastic pipe cracking. One wonders how many plumbing problems may be arising these days. It has caused the collapse of a swimming pool, I understand.

Using the RATS Scale, I would put my skin reactions at Scale 3, bad enough to require avoiding it and given other problems necessary. On reflection it is likely that over time I started with minor, Scale 1 issues which worsened over time.

Looking around it does seem that there are other people who cannot use modern chlorine treated pools and unluckily in the UK other types are hard to find. Also, there are other allergies to products where the key substance is hard to identify.

Given the increases in both asthma and skin problems and the difficulty of working out what may be amongst the complex reasons for all this there are many possibilities.

Could one of them be simply that there is too much chlorine based stuff around in the home and outside?

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Keep Taking The Pills

Used with care, sensitivity and managed properly within clear limits both antibiotics and antibacterials have their uses in medical treatments and such. However when they are stuffed into all sorts of things; used without discrimination and on the largest possible scale for production and marketing purposes there will be consequences.

The same can be said of many other substances in the past and present. It is a matter of human experience that misuse and overuse will have adverse effects. Some of these will be quite nasty.

Recently, but not much in the UK, typically there has been attention paid to these issues. It is often difficult to understand because of the science and the complexity. But the sooner we accept that we could be doing more damage than good then we might begin to control ourselves.

The link below gives more links to recent other research on antibiotics.

The picture above is a typical factory farm situation. Very often the cattle and in other places other animals, birds and fish may be routinely given antibiotics in their feedstock. These find their way into water systems and your food.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Ashes To Ashes

Another spasm of volcanic activity in Iceland has produced more ash in the atmosphere with the usual effects. Amongst them are disruptions to flights. These affect not only the geographical areas where the ash occurs but the knock on effects around related services.

It does not take much common sense to realise that a cloud of ash and modern jet powered airplanes do not mix and that where they might in the same place then one should give way to the other. It takes even less common sense to work out that this will be the aircraft.

However, the leaders of the major corporations running some airlines, notably Walsh of BA and O’Leary of Ryanair have rushed to the media howling and arm waving to the effect that the authorities have over reacted and that the planes should fly because in their opinion there is not much ash and that is nothing to worry about.

As an exercise in the abandonment of any human or corporate moral responsibility it is a classic of its kind. What they are doing, and this tells us a lot about modern management and the media, is going in for cheap point scoring against the agencies and governments who are stuck with sorting out the problem.

In past centuries it may have been impossible or very difficult to judge exactly what the ash could do and why. It became better in the second half of the 20th Century and is now much more expert. The one thing that is certain is uncertainty and the risks are as high as ever when the ash first goes up and then comes down.

For the latest ash cloud just when Walsh and O’Leary were hitting the headlines scientists in Aberdeen took a look at their car wind screens, did not like what they saw, took some samples and analysed them. They were the familiar remains of a volcanic ash cloud and they were very nasty stuff indeed.

Now information is much more readily available and in a form that the majority of people can understand. Below are three links to help, also you only have to put “volcanic ash” into search, with the variants you use to learn a great deal very quickly.

When the leaders of major corporations act in this fashion with one thing where the information is so readily available and accessible how can we trust them with matters that are more difficult or complicated?

Please make your own list.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

At The Heart Of It

A major difficulty for those who believe that the effects of air pollution may involve more than the obvious ones of skin or lung issues is to identify the mechanism by which damaged occurs.

There are obvious difficulties here in relation to the brain but also the heart. Post mortem examinations may reveal the presence of polluting substance in them but finding just what they might or might not do is a different matter.

The article below is about research that attempts to make the connection between polluting agents and the cardio vascular system. There are blood vessels in the eyes that can be examined by digital means and what happens when they encounter pollution might offer a plausible means for cardiac effects.

The article says there is a great deal of work to be done but does suggest that there are possibly serious medical conditions in which pollution is a factor beyond those we are already aware of.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Sense And Sensibility

The journal “Science” has featured a report from the University of Texas concerning the sense of smell and the development of the brain in mammals in the long past.

The link is below, the thesis seems to be that when mammals began to be able to use the sense of smell better and more effectively this jump started the development of the brain.

An implication of this is that if humans have high performance brains then this might just be because they had a sense of smell that enabled the thought processes to function far more efficiently and selectively.

As the scale and nature of air pollution in modern urban society probably means that most of us now have this sense seriously impaired does this mean that the urban human race is reverting to a more dismal past?

To judge by the way most of the human race now functions I really do wonder if things are going backwards increasingly quickly.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

My Brain Hurts

Below is a link to another Science Daily article. It is this web site that supplies most of the traditional media with summaries on which they base their news items.  These may or may not reflect the real content nor may the interns who mostly do the work have much understanding.

However, whilst the link is all about insect sense of smell and brain function the scientists involved believe that it gives us some insight and guidance into the way the human brain may work.

Some of us are coming to believe that in our modern world the human brain seems to working a lot less well than in the past and perhaps wonder why.

It could be that the scale of the disruption now in ordinary lives together with the loss of basic sense functions such as smell, taste and perception may have the answer.

Ask your nearest locust, or failing that the spider in the bathroom.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Microbes My Health

The article below suggests that for good health in plants there needs to be a network of microbes in the soil which interact to help the plant to thrive and to defeat many diseases.

The implication is that if some or many of these are not present or are impeded from functioning as they should then the risks to the plants increase.

If we see ourselves as complicated entities that have in common with plants a dependence on a variety of microbes interacting to enable our physical well being then it follows that all those things which counter, remove or damage those microbes will entail damage to the human body.

Just how much stuff is there in the average house now designed to do just that?

Friday, 6 May 2011

Testing Out The Future

The item below was picked up from MCS America as a news flash from the US Environmental Working Groups and it is self explanatory.

EWG News release:

Lautenberg Advances Bill to Protect Kids from Toxic Chemicals

Introduces Safe Chemicals Act of 2011
CONTACT: EWG Public Affairs: 202.667.6982. April 14, 2011
Washington, D.C.

In 2005, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) was the first lawmaker ever to offer a road map for fixing the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which has allowed tens of thousands of toxic substances onto the marketplace with little or no testing.

Today, Lautenberg continues pressing to revamp the law by introducing the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. It would require chemical companies to prove their products are safe for human health and the environment before allowed in commerce.

“We're pleased that Senator Lautenberg is introducing the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011,” said Jason Rano, Senior Legislative Analyst for Environmental Working Group. “Nobody has provided more leadership in the effort to protect children from exposure to dangerous toxic chemicals.”

Environmental Working Group has documented through two landmark reports that chemical contamination in people begins in the womb, largely due to the failure of federal law.

“The path chemicals travel from inception to people’s bodies is short and smooth,” said Rano. “The Lautenberg plan forces chemical companies to prove each of their products is safe before becoming ingredients in the products we buy. At its core, this legislation is about protecting the public health of all Americans, especially children.”

Lautenberg’s legislation would establish a protective standard by which chemicals’ safety would be determined. It would go a long way to eliminating spurious claims of confidential business information.

The Environmental Protection Agency would set priorities among more than 84,000 chemicals in the agency’s inventory. Companies would be required to submit all health and safety data to EPA and could, no longer keep this vital information secret.

“Senator Lautenberg is the father of modern day chemicals policy reform,” Rano said. “We look forward to working with him to build support for this rigorous, common-sense approach.”

# # #

EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.


If only………….

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Eating Out Or In

For those with allergies going out and eating out can present problems.

With so little plain food with wholly natural content on modern menus and so much pre-prepared food that is delivered to the restaurant, pub’ chain or fast food outlet that might be visited it is difficult to be certain of what they contain.

A look at the contents of many similar food products available in supermarkets and even in “health” shops can reveal many and unexpected things in the content.

So in this article in Science Daily about allergy issues in eating places is really no surprise. The reactions and assumptions of staff mirror those experienced by people who have other allergies than food

If the allergic reaction a person might have is mild it is one thing, but if it is very uncomfortable and hurts it is another. It does mean that many are unwilling to take the chance.

In a world now where the typical products contains a wide range of substances, natural and synthetic the risks are greater. Also, the amounts in total and complexity of content and production methods all add to the risk of provoking other allergies or higher level reactions.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Heart Problems From Hydrocarbons

This link below to E Science News of today adds another question to the list of effects of these substances that is ever lengthening.

In this case it is the long term cardiac effects of certain exposures.

At the end it suggests that limiting maternal exposure to this kind of compound is advised. By extension, this could be a few other related substances.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Blast From The Past

A little off the usual beat is this article from e-science news about the volcanic eruption in Iceland last year that stopped a good deal of air traffic in the Northern Hemisphere.

At the time there was some severe criticism of the authorities from executives of airlines and others, including some politicians, who wanted definitive proof of danger before any warnings were issued.

My view was that volcanoes can put a lot of dangerous stuff into the air and if you do not know what exactly is in it and the experience of history tells us it is far better to avoid it than to take chances.

Recent research is showing that the grounding of air traffic was right.

The scientists involved have devised very sensitive measuring techniques to help find out what is up there and how bad it is in the event of future eruptions.
Given the amount of muck that is going into the air from other sources that may not affect aircraft all that much but does affect people on the ground it is a pity the same time and effort does not go into measuring other stuff.

But that may not turn a profit and might cause some big operators to lose.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Suffer Little Children

One of the features of getting older is the idea that children are getting worse. The problem these days is that there is increasing evidence that this may be the case. Moreover it is down to our consumption and production practices and the implications of modern urbanized life.

In this case, reported by e!science news the issue of pesticides arising again in relation to unborn children:

There are a great many uncertainties, but the basic principle is that if people ingest strong substances from any source there is like to be impact on the brain of some kind is unavoidable.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Watch The Birdie

Flame retardants are now a feature of carpeting and furnishings in almost all homes and places where people attend. Like many other substances they do not stay in the products but “travel” and can be found almost anywhere, including the eggs of rare birds.


Science News

New Pollutants: Flame Retardants Detected in Peregrine Falcon Eggs

ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2011) — Flame retardants are chemical compounds added to fabrics and plastics to keep them from burning easily, but these can be toxic.

Now a team of researchers from Spain and Canada has detected some of these emerging pollutants for the first time in peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) eggs in both countries.

"The presence of 'dechlorane plus' and other related, chlorinated compounds used as flame retardants have been detected for the first time in the European biota (flora and fauna of the region)," explains Ethel Eljarrat, co-author of the study and scientist at the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Studies (IDAEA-CSIC, Spain).

The researchers have found these substances in peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) eggs in both Spain and Canada. The flame retardants are often added to textiles, electronic circuits and other products to inhibit or resist the spread of fire, but can be transferred to the environment.

In nature these compounds are "bioaccumulating and bioconcentrating" all along the food chain, as evidenced by the research published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal. The international research team for this study was led by Begoña Jiménez of the Institute of Organic Chemistry (CSIC, Spain), and Environment Canada researchers, Kim Fernie and Mehran Alaee.

Having received the relevant permits, eggs that had failed to hatch from various active falcon nests in Canada and Spain, were collected. The collection involved 13 eggs from Spain (five in Guadalajara -- a territory representative of an inland habitat of the Iberian Peninsula -- and eight in Bilbao -- representing a coastal environment), and 12 eggs from Canada (Great Lakes Region and Eastern provinces).

The levels of some of the measured contaminants have been found to be somewhat higher in Bilbao than in Guadalajara, and the authors believe this may be due partially to the difference in the falcons' diet: more aquatic in the former and more terrestrial in the latter.

In fact, if fish is highly contaminated, peregrines would accumulate more of the harmful substances. While peregrine falcons do not eat fish, they prey upon other birds, some of which may eat fish.

Selecting the peregrine falcon was no accident. This species was endangered in many areas of the northern hemisphere due to the use of organochlorinated pesticides, particularly DDT, though when this was prohibited in the 1970s the populations recovered.

Furthermore, falcons are at the top end of the food chain and accumulate substances carried by their prey.

Highest levels in the Canadian samples

The results reveal that the concentrations of 'dechlorane plus' and some of the other chlorinated halogens were "significantly higher" in the Canadian falcons' eggs than in those of Spain.

The reason for this could be that the industry that has manufactured these compounds for decades (although they are now also produced in China) is located in New York State close to the area where samples were collected. In addition, the use of these compounds has generally been higher in North America than Europe.

The researcher acknowledges that the effects that these flame retardants may have on the falcons' eggs or on their development are still unknown, "but their detection is a first step."

These are emerging pollutants, which comprise both those which have appeared more recently and those that have been used for a long time but are just lately the subject of environmental interest.

Other flame retardants, including some brominated flame retardants, have already been confirmed as toxic endocrine disruptors, and their use has been prohibited in some of the commercial mixes in Europe and America.

Furthermore, they are candidates for inclusion on a list of Persistent Organic Pollutants to be eliminated, a list compiled by the Stockholm Convention which includes other pollutants such as DDT or dioxins.

This study forms part of the doctoral thesis submitted this month by the researcher Paula Guerra from IDAEA on "The analysis of emerging halogenated flame retardants and their impact on the environment and on humans." All of the eggs were analyzed by her during her exchange studies at Environment Canada.

A research group at IDAEA led by Damià Barceló has also confirmed the presence of these compounds in sediment and fish in the rivers of the Ebro basin (Spain).


Nothing and nobody is safe anymore.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Microbes In New Born Children

This was something I saw on the online discovermagazine dot com section on health and medicine. It caught my eye because of the recent report on the high level of still births in the UK.

Given the nature and extent of synthetic substances of one sort or another in our foods and environment it has to happen that both an embryo and a new born child, dependent on bodily defences may have them impaired by these.


The Trillions of Microbes That Call Us Home—and Help Keep Us Healthy

The human body is a habitat for a huge range of harmless and beneficial microbes, which may be the key to fighting disease without antibiotics.

By Michael Tennesen

In the intensive care nursery at Duke University Medical Center, doctors and nurses attend to premature infants in rows of incubators surrounded by ventilators and monitors. As new parents holding packages of breast milk watch their tiny babies, neo¬natologist Susan LaTuga makes her rounds, checking vital signs and evaluating how the infants tolerate feeding.

She consults with nurses, dietitians, and pharmacists about the course of the day’s treatment for the babies, some of whom weigh as little as one pound and were born as much as 17 weeks early.

At the end of her shift, LaTuga stops at a freezer and inspects stool samples from some of the infants that are at the center of a remarkable new study. Across the Duke campus, technicians are waiting to analyze them with a powerful gene sequencer capable of penetrating the hidden world of the billions of microorganisms growing inside each infant.

LaTuga is one of several medical researchers at Duke working with microbial ecologists to study the development of the human microbiome—the enormous population of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, that live in the human body, predominantly in the gut.

There are 20 times as many of these microbes as there are cells in the body, up to 200 trillion in an adult, and each of us hosts at least 1,000 different species. Seen through the prism of the micro-biome, a person is not so much an individual human body as a superorganism made up of diverse ecosystems, each teeming with microscopic creatures that are essential to our well-being.

“Our hope is that if we can understand the normal microbial communities of healthy babies, then we can manipulate unhealthy ones,” LaTuga says.

The Duke study is just one of many projects begun in the past five years that use genetic sequencing to explore how the ¬diversity of the microbiome impacts our health.

Two of the largest efforts are the Human Microbiome Project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, and the European Union’s Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract. Although these groups have only just begun to publish their findings, it is already clear that the micro¬biome is much more complex and very likely more critical to human health than anyone suspected.

Understanding and controlling the diversity of our germs, as opposed to assaulting them with anti¬biotics, could be the key to a range of future medical treatments.


For subscribers there is more to read but the above says a great deal.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Formaldehyde Does Not Just Preserve

As we know formaldehyde is present in many products and when subject to the kind of other chemicals used for transferring and allowed air transmission of aromatics etc. will be present along with these in affecting the body.

There has been a continuing debate in the USA on this chemical and its effects and the latest situation is summarized in the Science Daily article below:

It is undoubtedly a substance that needs a good deal of care in its handling and use. This is something that simply has not been happening. Given the rapid expansion in complex household and personal products in the last three decades we can expect the effects to have become more widespread.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Eyes Have It

Going about we have noticed that one effect of fragrances is to cause eye irritation, watering an soreness.

It is possible to put it down to ordinary air pollution, but I came across this link:

Although it was very small scale research 10 out of 42 is quite high. If that is typical then a number of people can be affected.

But what might happen to the eyes if the irritation they experience can be almost permanent where air fresheners etc. are in use?

Friday, 1 April 2011

More Food For Thought

There has been a lot of publicity and comment in recent years about diet and eating problems amongst youngsters. These have ranged from the issues of obesity to those of anorexia with the risks of poor nutrition arising from either very fussy eating or eating a very limited range of foods.

Yet in the developed world the proportion of food costs to domestic income has fallen steadily and the typical supermarket has a very wide range of choices on offer. Also, there is no shortage of information available about cooking, recipes or diets.

However, if you look in the shopping trolleys of very many typical families you will see a high proportion of pre-prepared, packaged and manufactured foods. They are certainly easy to get to the table and apparently geared to tastes.

But “tastes” and demand can arise from marketing and heavy hitting advertising aimed at both families and children. All the skills and techniques derived from experience, psychology and consumer research are deployed to sell the goods and maximise the returns.

Critically, these days there is a vast armoury of synthetic chemical colourings, flavourings, flavour enhancers, fillers and substances designed to impact and sharpen the experience. There are still some relatively natural ones, but these are often enhanced or concentrated, notably sugars.

Whilst these foods affect the whole of the body one way or another there are two senses that have the first effects, smell and taste. There is a great deal of work done in the design and making of these products to ensure that they hit those senses hard and in a way that determines preferences both immediate and future.

There are a number of problems that are potential here. An obvious one is if the design leads to cravings and the desire for more than is needed, especially if the foods lead to weight gain. Another is that the effect and impact of the artificial tastes and smells means that children are not simply unused to ordinary and natural foods but because of the more subtle or different tastes come to reject them.

However, there is another possibility that seems not to be considered at all in relation to those who fail to eat or refuse. Is it possible that the body is telling that person that it has grown to react to the substances in the products and can neither cope with them nor want them?

One special issue is how far the recent dependence on manufactured foods etc. has actively degraded or grossly distorted the senses of taste and smell. So that an individual cannot cope with ordinary food and nor can they cope with the substances within the various chemically designed and manufactured ones.

Not only may we now have two generations of people whose senses have been degraded, who have little experience or knowledge in actively managing their foot intakes and simply do not know how to deal with basic ordinary food.

With food prices beginning to rise sharply and manufacturing and transport costs in turn going up faster, the prospects are not good.