My guest today is toxicologist Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT, He’s a regular guest who is helping us understand the toxicity of common chemicals we may be frequently exposed to. Today we’re going to talk about indoor and outdoor air pollution: the different types of pollutants, how they affect your health, how you are exposed to them, and what you can do to reduce your exposure. Dr. Gilbert is Director and Founder of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and author of A Small Dose of Toxicology- The Health Effects of Common Chemicals. He received his Ph.D. in Toxicology in 1986 from the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, is a Diplomat of American Board of Toxicology, and an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington. His research has focused on neurobehavioral effects of low-level exposure to lead and mercury on the developing nervous system. Dr. Gilbert has an extensive website about toxicology called Toxipedia, which includes a suite of sites that put scientific information in the context of history, society, and culture. www.toxipedia.org
LISTEN TO OTHER SHOWS WITH STEVEN G. GILBERT, PhD, DABT
- Toxic Solvents and Vapors
- How Pesticides Can Harm Your Health
- Why Do People Doubt the Science Behind Toxics?
- There is No Safe Level for Lead Exposure
- Fewer Chemicals Make Healthier Babies
- Why We Shouldn’t Have Nuclear Power Plants
- How Mercury Affects Your Health
- Persistant Bioaccumulative Toxicants
- How Endocrine Disruptors Disrupt Our Endocrine Systems
- The Dangers of Exposure to Radiation and How to Protect Yourself
- Toxics Throughout History—Exposure to Toxic Substances is Not New
- The Ethics of Toxics
- How to Determine Your Risk of Harm From an Exposure to a Toxic Chemical
- The Basic Principles of Toxicology
- Meet a Toxicologist
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Toxics in the Air We Breathe – Indoors and Outdoors – and How it Affects Our Health
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Steven G. Gilbert
Date of Broadcast: July 30, 2015
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic free. It is Thursday, July 30th 2015. I’m here in Clearwater, Florida with overcast skies, so it’s going to be cooler today. It’s only 80 today, that’s good.
Today, we’re going to be talking about air, air pollution and the air pollutants that can be making us sick both in outdoor air and indoor air. What’s toxic about air?
My guest today is toxicologist Dr. Steven Gilbert. He’s a regular guest on this show and he’s helping us understand the toxicity of common chemical that we’re maybe frequently exposed to. And if you’re listening to this show, you are being exposed to outdoor air pollutants for sure and indoor air pollutants if you don’t know about them and haven’t been doing things to clean them. So, we’re going to find out all about this today, what are the pollutants and what to do?
Dr. Gilbert is the author of a very good book called A Small Dose of Toxicology which you can get on his website for free. Everybody should have one. I just think that it’s the best way to start with toxicology. His website is Toxipedia.org. Dr. Gilbert, is it an .org or a .com?
STEVEN GILBERT: It’s .org
DEBRA: Toxipedia.org. I don’t have it right in front of me. So hi, Dr. Gilbert. How are you?
STEVEN GILBERT: Hi Debra, how are you this morning?
DEBRA: I’m good! And I actually start by saying something first. Usually, I let you talk but I have a post on my blog on my website that talks about air pollution is now the world’s single largest environmental risk to health. That was stated by the World Health Organization in March 2014. There may be more recent numbers about this.
It says that there that there were deaths. They’re not just talking about runny noses and it’s hard to breathe. So here are the outdoor air pollution that cause deaths, 40% of heart disease, 40% of stroke, 11% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 60% of lung cancer and 3% of lower respiratory infections in children.
So here, what we’re talking about today is not just how this affects your health. It’s talking about people dying. That’s what I wanted to start.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah. That is really, really a great starting point. Air pollution is a worldwide issue. It’s a serious matter that everybody should thoughtful about. I have some statistics too about that.
According to what I have from Mother Jones article (there’s a great article there about air pollution), over 1.5 million of people worldwide die of heart disease, 1.4 of stroke, lung cancer, 222,000 die of pulmonary disease, 43,000 people die every year as a consequence of air pollution. So, it really is a very serious matter, both indoor and outdoor. I’ll just say it’s bad.
Air pollution, for a long time, we still have not talked about this issue. But yeah, I see it’s getting better in some countries. I’ll just read this little quarter:
“As soon as I had gotten out of the heavy air of Rome and from the stink of smokey chimneys thereof, which, being stirred, poured forth from whatever pestilential vapors and soot they had enclosed in them, I felt an alteration in my disposition.”
This is by Seneca in 61 BC.
STEVEN GILBERT: So, air pollution is a serious matter as our population has increased for a long, long time.
DEBRA: Yes, it has. So, what I’d like to do is I’d like to do the first half of the show on outdoor air pollution and then let’s move to indoor air pollution. Instead of mixing them up, let’s separate them out.
So, why don’t you start by telling us what are some of the air pollutants that people are being exposed to outdoors?
STEVEN GILBERT: Well, outdoor, probably the most serious one is ozone, which is O3. It can be a very serious pollutant. Ozone at the upper stratosphere is very important. You’ve probably heard [inaudible 00:05:34] ozone hole in the upper stratosphere. Ozone at the upper stratosphere is very important. It protects us from ultraviolet light. But that’ll also be a serious lung irritant. So, it’s very important that we control that.
It’s produced by high nitrogen oxide. For example, produced from cars (too many cars on the road). I think that that’s where a lot of air pollution comes from, cars. Industrial pollution such as coal-fueled utility plants are a very important producer of air pollution and particulate manner. Diesel particulate matter is important. If you live near a port or a very active port, you know all about the air pollution that comes off of ports from the diesel engines that run the big ships that are coming out.
Here in Seattle, you’ll certainly see a lot of that. We’ve tried hard to reduce the amount of soot that’s produced by these generators that are on these ships. They plug in to the grid. They’re not running their big engines right next to the city.
So, I think another for outdoor air pollution are sulfur dioxide. They are an important air pollutant that produces acid rain and really clogs the atmosphere.
A pollutant that come out are also mercury, for example, with coal-fired utility plants. They produce mercury. It gets into the atmosphere, then mercury comes down as rain. And with rain, it enters the dirt, it enters the soil. It ends up in the rivers and the ocean. It gets into the fish we eat.
So, there are all kinds of outdoor air pollutants that are really critical. And of course, it all leads to climate change.
We get too much carbon dioxide from pollutants that come out of cars, from our industrial systems. It is causing global warming and global climate changes that we’re all becoming more and more familiar with.
And I think [inaudible 00:07:22], for example, that’s going to be really serious because it’s starting to melt the ice in the poles of the earth and it’s going to cause great increases in sea level. If it continues to rise, it will flood many things.
So, air pollution really has many, many different effects. It’s also affecting our health and well-being. It’s really important to pay attention to air pollution. UK is trying to regulate more of that. The United Sates actually has pretty good, clean air. They’ve done a really good job in trying to clean up the air, but it’s still a big issue.
In fact, the consequence of India and China and other developing countries that have a lot of coal burning plants and the air pollutants comes off of those in the air. It gets into the upper atmosphere and it ends up in the West Coast here. We see the pollution from China and other developing countries in our atmosphere.
So, it is something we really got to look as a global issue. We have done that in the past with ozone, for example, and volatile organic compounds and trying to reduce the amount of ozone contaminants that are killing off the ozone in our upper stratosphere.
We can do this. I think climate change [inaudible 00:08:35] air pollution goes.
DEBRA: Well, what can individuals do at home or in their personal lives to help reduce air pollution? I think it’s pretty clear that almost anywhere you are, particularly if you’re in a city or in a place like you are from Seattle where the pollution is coming from other countries across the Pacific that there’s going to be more air pollution.
And if you’re out in the country where you’re not next to so much cars and some things like that and industrial pollution, the air is going to be cleaner. But I think it’s probably safe to say that there probably isn’t a place on Earth where the air is actually clean.
STEVEN GILBERT: You’re absolutely right, Debra. It is really a serious problem, industrialization of the globe. It’s causing more and more air pollution. If you look at it historically, outdoor pollution, the Donora smog that occurred in 1948 in Donora, Pennsylvania was produced by a US Steel Corporation, Donora Zinc Works and American Steel.
The air [inaudible 00:09:44]. It was cold air that stuck the bottom air, so the air pollution stayed very low. Over 7,000 people died in this period of time.
STEVEN GILBERT: So, we’ve moved away from this gross example of pollution in the United Sates. But we can still issue. When you go out and look out in the ocean out in Seattle here, you see that pink sunsets, that’s the particulate matters in the air.
So, we’ve learned that these particulate matters, [inaudible 00:10:15]. They’re very small, fine particles. They’re a serious part of air pollutants. They enter our lungs, deep into our lungs. It can cause heart disease and other disease that can actually lead to death as well as asthma and things like that.
It’s very important that we can cure air pollutants and look at ways we can reduce it. For example, I’ve moved…
DEBRA: Wait! Hold on, we need to go to break. So, let’s go to break and when we come back, you can tell us how we can reduce it. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert.
He’s the author of A Small Dose of Toxicology which you can get at Toxipedia.org. We’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. I’m sorry, I’m a little distracted here.
During the break, I was looking up the article you’ve mentioned, the Mother Jones article about air pollution. Well, I found five articles in Mother Jones. It was like a big thing, just now in June 2015. The one I have in front of me now is about our national parks. They rated 12 parks most harmed by air pollution. I’m looking at this picture of Yosemite.
I used to live in California and I’ve been to Yosemite National Par. It’s absolutely gorgeous! And when you go there, it’s way high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s got these gorgeous mountain peaks. And you’d thinks if there’s any place in the world where there’s going to be clear air, it would be Yosemite. It was one of the four national parks to regularly have unhealthy air pollution levels, Yosemite National Park!
STEVEN GILBERT: Yes.
DEBRA: So, this is what I was talking about earlier. There isn’t a place on Earth where you can go and breathe clean air. That’s just astonishing to me.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, it really is depressing! I think that, you asked earlier, “What can we as individuals do?”,
I think it’s a little bit of politics. But also, I think we can do some things and one is solar panels. We need to stop producing electricity from these large centralized systems that produce live air pollution on their own like coal-fired utility plants, even the gas plants. There’s a lot of air pollution from that.
I’ll just give you an example. I’ve put solar panels in my house about a year ago. For the last 30 days, I’ve generated 1.2 megawatts of electricity. Right at the moment, I’m generating over 3000 watts of electricity. And yesterday, I generated 47 kilowatts of power. It doesn’t sound like a lot. It’s not a lot for a house. [inaudible 00:15:54] to utility company 24, almost 25 kilowatt hours of electricity back to the power plant.
So, it’s really important for us as individuals. I also got an electric car this year. I tried to plug in my electric car and charge it off to solar panels from the grid. It’s [inaudible 00:16:16] have gotten great opportunities to move towards solar. But we’ve got to have better laws that encourages [inaudible 00:16:23] great incentive towards solar. [Inaudible 00:16:26]
DEBRA: That’s exactly right! First of all, I just want to remind the listeners that you’re in Seattle and the percentage of cloud cover days because it’s raining so much is enormous and you’re still getting that amount of energy that you just described.
Here in Florida, we have so many sunshine days. There’s so much sunshine here that actually – I think it was back in the ‘20s or something. There was actually a lot of solar. It was like almost everybody had solar hot water. That as the way they did it. We’ve lost all that easy, solar technology. It’s all been replaced by these pollution energy technology and we could easily do this.
For me, I would have solar panels on my house in a minute if I could afford it. If there was government incentive here, I’d do it in a minute!
STEVEN GILBERT: It’s that great incentive. And back into the politics, we have to talk to representatives, “We want solar! We want distributed power generation and move away from this large centralized systems.”
DEBRA: I totally agree! Another thing would be – how can I say this? If we use less energy in our homes, then are the power systems still going to generate that energy whether we use it or not?
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah! I generate it. The systems are set up so that all the excess power generated goes back to the grid, so my neighbors are using the powers I generated.
Yesterday, I sold 25 kilowatt hours back to the electric company. I have not paid an electric bill since last July when I installed the system on my house.
STEVEN GILBERT: The power companies have to get onboard with allowing us to do this and adapting to the fact that as individuals, we can generate a lot of power in our homes. It’s very important we do that because that reduces the pollution and modern powers required from the utility plants.
And if it moves to electrical currents, we also use power from those plants in our house that we generated ourselves, but also, we reduce pollution that we’re putting out in the atmosphere from our cars because we have a whole bunch of cars that are pollution free, which is just great. I think…
DEBRA: I think that’s great! I would do exactly what you’ve done. I just need to figure how to make that work financially for me. I got a smaller car this year because my other car totally broke down and so I bought a very fuel-efficient car and I’m very happy I did that. Even if people were to move to having more fuel economic cars, that would reduce it a lot.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yes, it would! Unfortunately, gas prices have dropped, so people are moving back to the less fuel-efficient cars. It’s very important. And I really honor your decision to buy a fuel-efficient car. That might seem like a small thing, but it’s actually a big thing that we can all do to reduce pollution in the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gasses.
It’s really important for us to reduce the use of greenhouse gasses so we’re not contributing to climate change and we’re starting to be thinking of future generations, of our children’s children, of what kind of globe we’ll leave them.
If we’re not careful, we’re going to end up with a lot of ocean rises, increase in ocean levels. It’s going to flood out a lot of properties. A lot of people live on the coast. It’s going to cause all kinds of problems. Florida, in particular, will be vulnerable to this.
DEBRA: Yes. I just want to ask you quickly because we only have about a minute before the break, “What kind people do to protect their health from outdoor air pollution when they’re walking around?”
STEVEN GILBERT: Well, that’s more difficult because we don’t have a lot of control of the outdoor air pollution. But I think the important thing is to look out for ozone, in particular, if it’s a high air pollution day. And then, don’t exercise if there’s a lot of pollution in the atmosphere.
But the main thing is we’ve got to reduce, we’ve got to ask our representatives to reduce our air pollution, to support the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s very discouraging to see this. Some of the republicans I met are going to wipe out the EPA or to reduce its authority. We’ve got to give our government agencies more authority to help reduce the air pollution that we inhale. We’re inhaling air pollution.
DEBRA: Yeah. It’s just way too much air pollution. So, I just want to mention before we go to break that one of the things that I recommend is to take Liquid Zeolite. The brand that I like is Pure Body Liquid Zeolite because it removes heavy metals and other things in your body in situations where you can’t control the exposure. And this is just one of those situations.
Outdoor air pollution is one of the reasons why I take this every day. And if you go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com and look up this show in the archives, there will be information there about how you can order that if you decide to do that.
So, we’re going to go to break, but we’ll be back. And when we come back, we’ll talk about indoor air pollution with Dr. Steven Gilbert, author of A Small Dose of Toxicology. You can get that free at Toxipedia.org. We’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert, author of A Small Dose of Toxicology, which you can get free at Toxipedia.org.
So, I want to start this segment with the statement that according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, they have called indoor air pollution the nation’s number one environmental health problem. So, now we have the World Health Organization saying that outdoor air pollution is the number one environmental health problem in the world. And then, the EPA says that indoor air pollution is the nation’s number one health problem.
They say that people spend more than 90% of their time inside. The quality of our indoor air impacts our health far more than our outdoor air. And so, some things the indoor air pollution can cause is irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, headache, dizziness, fatigue, asthma, hypersensitivity, pneumonia and long term effects can include respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer. It can be severely debilitating and fatal. This is what our United States Environmental Protection Agency has to say about indoor air pollution.
Okay, I’ll let you talk now.
STEVEN GILBERT: You made some great, great point there. Your indoor air pollution is really critical, especially for young children, because children are not like adults. They eat more, breathe more and drink more than their body weight. Their airways are not as big as adults. So, indoor air pollution is really important for young. They also spend more time indoors. And also for the elderly, they will often have compromised lung function and they also spend a lot of time indoors.
So, indoor pollutants are really important. A lot of it are comprised of outgassed chemicals. For example, if you go the store and buy one of your plastic, rubberized shower curtains, that shower curtains will offgas phthlates and other chemicals. Even that new plastic smell is an important source of air pollutants that we inhale.
So, if you have that in your bathroom, you don’t have a fan, you increase humidity in your bathroom, you get mold in the bathroom, that mold outgasses particulate matter and you also inhale that. You get asthma and other conditions from that.
So, there are lots of indoor air pollutants. It’s actually hard to know where to start. You’ve got things like radon in certain places in the country. [Inaudible 00:29:30] I don’t about Florida so much.
DEBRA: We don’t have it here.
STEVEN GILBERT: You don’t?
DEBRA: No, we don’t.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, radon causes lung cancer if you can inhale. There are all kinds of different aspects of air pollutants. If three billion people around the globe have used wood, animal bones, crop waste, coal for cooking, if they’re heating their homes, those will produce lot of indoor air pollution.
People that use wood in certain places like Washington state. People still have a wood burning stove. There’s actually a little community. In Seattle, there’s still a lot of wood burning stove. [Inaudible 00:30:15]. That can be very reactive for some people. They’ll have really troubled breathing in wood smoke filled air. It causes a lot of problems in both outdoor and indoor pollution.
I have to mention lead for a second.We added lead to gasoline in the 30s and we produced a horrible mess of lead pollution which goes indoors and outdoors. Kids are exposed to lead from cars that once burned lead, of course. We got rid most of the leads from gasoline in 1990, which is a great move.
It’s still used, for example, used in airplanes, propulsion of airplanes. They have leaded gasoline. There’s lead around the outdoor. But indoors [inaudible 00:31:00].
For example, with pesticide, it’s the same thing. You use a lot of pesticides outdoors, you bring them indoors. It gets into carpets. The carpets has dust in them. Who’s going to breathe down the carpet? Kids again.
STEVEN GILBERT: So, kids are exposed indoors. Pesticides and lead are two good examples. There’s a whole other bunch of other examples.
So, it really is a complicated thing. I think indoor pollution is an underrated problem.
DEBRA: I totally agree with you! So, I’ve been writing about indoor air pollution for a very long time. I’ve been writing about the whole subject of toxics for more than 30 years. And indoor air pollution was one of the first things that I started writing about.
And at that time, it wasn’t even called indoor air pollution. They haven’t even done the studies yet. But I knew from my own experience (and the experience of others) that when we were breathing these things, then we felt sick. And when we didn’t breathe them, then we didn’t feel sick. It was pretty clear even though studies have not yet been done at that time.
So, things like carpets give off fumes that are very toxic. I know in my particular case, I was being made very sick by the chlorine fumes that were coming off of the water in my shower. And it’s not just chlorine. It mixes with other things in the water, so it actually turns into chloroform. And chloroform is that thing in old movies where the villain would put this cloth over the heroin’s face to knock her out. That’s chloroform. It just really does knock you out.
So, I would actually faint when I would take a shower from the amount of chloroform that was in my water. And all of these were considered to be indoor air pollutants.
I want to mention that there are two things that people can do with indoor air pollution. One is my website is full of products that don’t emit toxic chemicals, things like paints and even like the materials used to make your bedding and clothing. All these things, they are all emitting toxic chemicals into the air. And so…
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, things like that and perfumes, deodorizers. Absolutely deodorizers, they’re all outgassing.
DEBRA: Yeah, I remember when I first started being interested in these. One of the things that I had just done is taking vinyl shelf paper that’s sticking on the back. I thought it was so pretty. And so, not only did I put it on the shelves, I lined my whole cabinet with vinyl shelf paper. And then, I learned that it was out-gassing toxic vinyl and I’m like, “Oh, my God!” I ripped it out.
But I do a lot of consulting were people have me come to their homes and find the toxic chemicals. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve got these built-in closets with these cabinets and these shelves and stuff. Those are particle boards. They’re just wreaking formaldehyde. It just goes on and on like this.
So, one thing to do is to start identifying where are those sources of indoor air pollution are. There are a lot of information on my website and in my book about what that is.
But the thing that I would really recommend is just right away, get an air filter. Get an air filter that is really going to do their job. That way, you start reducing the air pollutants while you’re removing the sources. You can just immediately improve your air quality with the right kind of air filter.
And again, I’ve put some information if you go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com. Look for today’s show and in the archives. There are some information there about the air filter that I use in my home. Even though I don’t have any toxic things in my home, toxic stuff is coming in from the outside. You can’t keep it out. So, this is something that we all need to be considering and taking care of in order to be healthy.
You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert, toxicologist and author of A Small Dose of Toxicology. He’s at Toxipedia.org and we’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert from Toxipedia.
So, we’re in our last segment. It always goes by so fast. There’s always so much information. So, what else would you like to make sure we say about indoor or outdoor air pollution?
STEVEN GILBERT: Oh, yeah. It’s really short. We should have divided this in two parts and done indoor air pollution one week and outdoor air pollution next week.
But it is a big, complex thing. We all need to be paying attention to what we breathe in. We’re only given one set of lungs that we start off with and it’s really important to protect our lungs.
One of the biggest issues that I can’t help but mention is tobacco products. We need to never smoke indoors. It really pollutes the indoors. You get not only the tobacco smoke, second hand smoke form indoor pollution, but you also get a third hand smoke through the walls, your clothing. It gets covered with tobacco products which outgasses it. So, the child, in particular, will inhale those products that are stuck on your clothes or in the walls of indoors.
STEVEN GILBERT: So, do not smoke indoors. Do not smoke to start with.
DEBRA: Do not smoke, yeah!
STEVEN GILBERT: Don’t smoke. Think about this. [Inaudible 00:40:13] The smoke that enters your lungs are all particulate matter [inaudible 00:40:17]. It is not good for you.
The other thing is I want to just hit on really quickly is industrial issue because I think the workplace is a really important part. A lot of the adults spend quite a bit of time in the workplace. It’s a very serious source of potential contamination especially, for example, silica, asbestos (you’ll really want to avoid asbestos). A lot of some older homes have asbestos. They wrap the ducting for their furnaces. So, be really careful about that for older homes. You want to watch out for asbestos in the workplace also.
Silica is another big issue. Silica will be from sand. It goes from cutting concrete, from grinding parts like that. It causes silicosis which can also be fatal in the lung damage. [Inaudible 00:41:09] So, take home products end up in the home can contribute to indoor air pollution.
Paint, formaldehyde, glue, you mentioned indoor cabinetry. That stuff will outgas for quite a while formaldehyde, another two three years to make those products.
Then, you have commercial cleaning products, also personal care products. Those things are very important.
Anything that’s got some kind of perfume on it is out-gassing chemicals. You’ve got to be thinking about that. If you have something that has perfume in it, it is built to offgas chemicals. Some of those chemicals they use are phthalates as well as other complex chemicals that make up perfumes. Air Fresheners, tire sheets…
DEBRA: There’s thousands, thousands of toxic chemicals in perfume, anything that is perfumed or scented or anything. That’s one thing you can do. If you were to just remove all the scented products from your life, you will greatly reduce indoor air pollution.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, things like that. If you have garage attached to your house or indoor garage or something, you drive your car in that garage, the car is offgassing a whole bunch of chemicals, oils and gasses and things like that, which contribute to the indoor air pollution of your home.
So, it’s really important to be thoughtful of where the pollution is coming from – cars, mold, dust. You really got to be careful about mold. You want to reduce the amount of mold. You don’t need to clean molds. If you do have molds in your bathroom, just use soap and hot or warm water on the mold.
Do not use chlorinated products on mold because it does not clean them off. It’s just bleaching, so you can’t see it.
So, just get down there and scrub away and then reduce the moisture. Mold feeds on moisture, so you just want to reduce moisture or you reduce the food source for all kinds products like that.
DEBRA: I think we’ve given a good overview. We still have about five minutes left. Let’s see what else can we say about indoor air pollution. What else would you like to say?
STEVEN GILBERT: Well, I would to just say you have to be really careful indoor and outdoor pollution. I think to come back to outdoor, I think it’s really important we try to figure out how to reduce greenhouse gasses in our materials that’s contributing to greenhouse gasses and then contributing to global warming and climate change.
The EPA has been doing a lot of work on that, trying to reduce the amount of fumes from the large industrial manufacturers, electricity-producing companies like goals and gas. Electric utilites are major source of pollutants and we really need to reduce the long run, the long term. We need to figure out how to do that. We need to start producing indiviually our own electricity because that will reduce outdoor air pollution.
I think reducing air pollution is everyone’s responsibility. Driving less, mass transit is really important. How do we increase mass transit in our society, so we don’t have to drive our own personal cars anymore. Walking is really important. I have a meeting in 10:30, I am [inaudible 00:44:21]. As soon as I get out of this call, I’m going to walk to my next meeting.
How do we do things like that? How do we reduce our contribution, our carbon footprint so we are not producing those greenhouse gases? In the long run, it’s going to cause us a lot of pain and trouble.
DEBRA: I know that at different times in my life, the choice about where you live and how you organize things in your life – like I work at home, so I don’t have any commute at all. I don’t need to take a bus, nothing. I just go from the bedroom to the kitchen to my desk.
And earlier in life, I lived in San Francisco. I worked downtown. And so, I lived in an area where I could walk to work in San Francisco. It took me about 20 minutes to go downtown, but I walked every day and I walked back. And now, where I live, I don’t have to go to work. But I have other activities that I do.
How much do I drive? I mean, everything that I do is within about a five mile radius really. So, it’s very rarely that I will drive across the bridge to Tampa, maybe once a month. But otherwise, I’m just in this little, tiny radius. It’s a little wide for me to walk it, but if I have maybe an electric scooter (which I am seriously thinking of getting), if I had an electric scooter, I could just scooter around to these places because they’re so close to each other.
So, that’s very different from people who are sitting in commute traffic for two hours every day.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah. That’s a really great point. [Inaudible 00:46:11]. I also work from our house too, so it’s really important to make your life something like that so you try not to contribute to the air pollution that’s out there already.
DEBRA: Yeah! I think that with wise decisions like that, we can reduce the outdoor air pollution that we are creating or experiencing.
I remember there was a time I was working in San Francisco and I was living in Oakland, which is across the bay bridge across San Francisco and I was driving a little Fiat X19 sports car. I do this commute with the top off. I’d just be sitting there for hours in the commute traffic breathing all of those exhaust. I mean, things that I used to do just horrify me now that I know what the consequences are. But I know that there are millions of people who are doing this.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, there are. There are all kinds of people that are just sitting in a lot of traffic and really breathing in the fumes from the cars all around them, which in the long run is not good for our lungs and not good for the future of the Earth and the planet and they’re not good for our children.
So, we’ve got to be thoughtful about that. We need to be me more considerate of our lungs and everybody else’s lungs. So, if you’re out there driving or polluting or even electricity, think of the pollutants that’s coming from that and all the pollutant that you’re producing and you’re breathing in at the same time.
It’s really important to be thinking about that, thinking about our homes, a lot glues and other solvents in our home. Our cars are manufactured with a lot of solvents, even the paint in the car. Paint produces a lot of chemicals. We need to be thoughtful about that and reducing our paint usage. Use only water-based paints. Stay away from all oil-based paints because there are a lot of oils and solvents in them. We need to reduce the amount of oil and petroleum products we’re using.
And we need to have regulation. I hate to come back to politics again. But again, we need to have those regulations.
DEBRA: We do.
STEVEN GILBERT: Know what’s in the products we’re using, know what chemicals are in the dryer sheets, the air fresheners and perfumes, so we know what to avoid and how to do that better and know what to buy.
DEBRA: That is a really big problem. Manufacturers don’t disclose what’s in their products. And that’s a topic for a whole show in and of itself. I’ve been a consumer advocate for more than 30 years now and the biggest problem I always have is I can’t find out what’s in the product. And if I can’t find out what’s in a product, then I just don’t use it.
There are ways that you can get around and find some of the ingredients. But the difference is that now, I’m starting to see that there are websites that fully disclosed their ingredients. And not only that, they tell you where they’re from and all about each ingredient and they’re very open about that. I think that that’s the world that we’re moving, that direction because how can we make decisions as consumers unless we know what’s in the product.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, [inaudible 00:49:35] The American Lung Association is great. My book has a big chapter on air pollution and other materials about that. But I think we need to educate ourselves about the products that are produced and that we’re using
DEBRA: And we need to go because it’s the end of the show. Thank you so much Dr. Gilbert! I know, it goes by so fast! You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. Be well!