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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Part XII: Metals: Home Appliances and Heavy Metal Contamination from Fish, Aluminum Cookers & Pans & Coriander Detox

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I. Home Appliances

Stainless steel is the perfect material for the appliance industry because it remains useful even after the appliances’ productive years. It may also be repeatedly recycled into more useful metal products.

Iron is the original metal, which is then processed into steel.  By heating steel at a much higher temperature and by being alloyed with chromium, it becomes highly resistant to stain, rust and corrosion.

Household electricity consumption accounts for 20% of the total energy usage, so it is only practical for households to learn how to efficiently use electricity.  With the increasing power costs, pollution, and public awareness of environmental repercussions, the US Congress passed the United States’ National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987.  This regulates the energy consumption of specific household appliances like the refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, kitchen ranges, ovens, air conditioners and more. To ensure that manufacturers produce appliances that have maximum energy efficiency levels, the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and Energy Policy Act of 2005 were also passed. These policies were welcomed by users who benefited with decreased power bills, lesser fossil fuel emissions from power plants and minimized pollution.

In Europe, all electrical appliances have an ‘EU energy rating label’. In United Kingdom, they have an ‘energy saving recommended’ scheme. This ensures that the products carrying its logo has complied with its strict criteria on energy efficiency.

With all these valued information, it is easier to decide on the type and size of appliances for our family’s needs. To maximize these appliances’ productive life, proper care is necessary. Here are some effective ways to use our appliances effectively.

A. Refrigerators , Freezers and Air Conditioning System  

CFCs or chlorofluorocarbons were once used as cooling agents in refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners. But in 1986, a hole in the ozone layer was discovered that was traced back to CFC usage. To prevent further damage on the atmosphere, CFCs were replaced by HCFCs or hydrofluorocarbons. But eventually, it was found to contribute to global warming, too.

Through research, Green Peace developed Green Freeze, a refrigerator technology that uses a natural gas called hydrocarbon as refrigerant. Hydrocarbons do not emit greenhouse gas, and have less impact on global warming.  It is cheaper, non-toxic and energy-efficient. It is currently being produced by the European, Chinese, Japanese and Indian manufacturers.

In 1992, the hydrocarbon mix of Isopentane and Isobutane were patented for air conditioners.  Germany was the first to accept this. Eventually, it was incorporated throughout Europe, Asia, Argentina and Latin America.  In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. adopted this hydrocarbon mix for manufacturing air conditioners.

With this development, the appliance industry has further improved the efficiency of its products. And end-users can further improve the productivity of their valuable appliances by doing the following:  

1. Minimize the number of times the refrigerator door is opened.  Each time it is left open for a minute, it take about 3 minutes to regain its temperature. So, the next time you need to put food inside the refrigerator, assemble them in one place to save time going back and forth. The lesser time the door is left opened, the lesser the power consumption.
2. Make sure the refrigerator’s door is sealed properly. If you put a piece of paper, and it can easily be pulled out, it means the door is not properly sealed. You may try to clean the seal for any dust first.  If this does not work, then it is time to call the repairman and have it replaced. Remember, a defective refrigerator door seal will cause a surge in your power bill.
3. Defrost regularly.
4. Make sure your refrigerator does not catch any of the rays of the sun. The heat from the sun’s rays will affect the refrigerator’s temperature causing it to work harder to maintain its level of coolness. This will thereby increase the energy usage.
5. Keep the coils at the rear of the refrigerator dust-free.  Dust in all appliances increases 30% of the energy consumption. Remember to also keep some distance between the wall and refrigerator to minimize the concentrated heat emitted from the appliance.
6. Insulate the sides of the freezer with aluminium foil so as to maintain cooling effect.
7. Make sure food is well cooled before putting it inside the refrigerator. Hot food lowers the refrigerator’s temperature, and will take time to regain its cool temperature.
8. Do not fill up your refrigerator by more than 75% to allow air circulation.  If there is a need to unload, you can leave bread, and root crops since these can stand at room temperature.
9. Make sure your refrigerator is not placed beside a stove, toaster, oven or microwave oven. Every time these are used, the heat would lower the fridge’s temperature and efficiency, and increase the energy cost.
10. Air conditioners should be kept clean.
a. Have it cleaned by expert air con cleaners at least once a year.
b. Use a high efficiency air con filter with electrostatic filter that can effectively trap harmful  
    microorganisms like dirt, dust and microorganism contamination from the atmosphere. This    
    filter will be attached to the existing air con filter so as to catch contaminants.  This filter should         be regularly changed once it is clogged to assure a clean and healthy room.

Should you decide to retire or replace your old appliances, just remember that these can still be           useful. Refrigerators and freezers contain many recyclable parts like the metal cabinets, plastic           liners, glass shelves, refrigerants and oils in the compressor.

Refrigerators, freezers, aircon, and other kinds of old appliances can be sold in recyclable shops, or donated to institutions like Goodwill Industries and Caritas Manila, Philippines.  The handicaps of Goodwill Industries fix these appliances in their shop and resell them in their second-hand store in Taguig City.  Caritas Manila together with Radio Veritas, on the other hand, have a  Program called Segunda Mana that repair and resell donated items at their more than twenty stores in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces to raise funds for education for financially-challenged but deserving students.

B. Stoves  

Stoves may range from one to two burners, or more depending on the cooking needs of the household. Electricity or liquefied petroleum gas or a combination of both are the most common appliance for cooking.  The traditional electric stove was slow-heating, but now there are induction cook tops which are fast-heating and energy efficient.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) heats meals faster and economically. Electrical stove whether traditional or induction heating are preferred by some housewives because they feel safer cooking without flame. Here are some ways to enjoy cooking safely and economically.


1. For safety purposes, you may close the gas regulator first before turning off the burner. When you do this, gas will stop flowing in the LPG hose, so the next time you light your burner there won’t be a surprising surge in the fire.
2. If an LPG tank has a leak, you will observe a gassy smell.  In case this happens, always remember that if the LIGHTS ARE ON, DO NOT TURN THEM OFF.  Likewise, if the LIGHTS are OFF, DO NOT TURN THEM ON. A single spark from your light bulb will easily trigger fire. Put a damp cloth on the stove burner, regulator and hose. Open your doors and windows and call for expert assistance to check the leak.
3. The flame should not extend to the side of the pan because that is just a waste of energy.
4. Make sure the flame is bluish. If you have a yellow flame this means the LPG is not burning correctly. Call your trustworthy expert serviceman if you see a yellow flame.

LPG and Induction Stove Cooking Tips

1. Use the right pan size for the burner. Use a tight lid cover to speed up the cooking process by trapping the heat inside pan. (This depends on what you are cooking.) If you are not cooking a lot, save time cooking by not using a tall pan.
2. Thaw frozen food inside the chiller. Leaving frozen food at room temperature exposes food to more harmful micro organisms that may cause quicker spoilage.
3. Measure the exact water needed for boiling or cooking to reduce cooking time and discarding the water that is not needed.
4. Use the oven only when cooking large dishes. For smaller dishes, use a toaster, oven toaster, or grill.
5. Turn off the oven 10 minutes before actual cooking time and allow residual heat to complete the cooking process. This does not apply to baking.

If it’s available in your region, try solar cooking.

C. Washing Machine 

This appliance is a great household necessity.  There are many washing machines in stores that practically suit every family’s needs.  Thus, when planning to purchase or replace this appliance, we suggest that you look at the’ energy efficiency’ displayed on the washing machine. Remember to buy for the right capacity for your family’s needs, and make sure that you do not overload it.  This would lessen chances for repairs.

Washing clothes can be easier and less expensive with these green tips.

1. Pre-soak clothes with baking soda. Baking soda removes stains. Just apply it directly on the stain, and let it stand for 30 minutes or more. Baking soda brightens the fabric into its original color. It is available per kilo and at a cheaper price at bakery supply stores. You can also opt to add vinegar.   (More useful tips at Home Cleaners.)
2. Washing with organic laundry soap makes clothes smell good whether dried under the sun or inside the house because these are made from natural materials.  It also eliminates the need for fabric conditioner because it is a conditioner in itself. To soften your towels, add a little vinegar to water, then soak towels for the last rinse. Vinegar surprisingly brings out the sweet natural scent of organic laundry soap more.  The scent of organic laundry soap also deters mosquitoes at the laundry area. More useful tips at Home Cleaners.)
3. Exposure of clothes under sunlight is the best disinfectant. And it’s free.

D. Pots, Pans and Tin Cans

a. Pots and Pans

Aluminum has dominated rice cookers, kitchen pots and pans because it is cheaper in comparison to stainless steel and cast iron. But the continuous use of this metal for cooking results to memory loss and heavy metal contamination. Aluminum also lessens the efficacy of herbal teas when boiled.

To avoid these, it is advisable to purchase metal pots and pans that are made of stainless steel or cast iron.  Although expensive, these last longer and are recommended for healthy cooking. Coated ceramics are good too, but it should have stainless steel as its base instead of an aluminium one because once it leaks, the aluminium will mix with the food.

Remember to choose stainless kettles, metal sieves, metal potato mashers, and metal sinks as well over its aluminium counterparts.

b. Tin Cans

Canned food and drinks are important for hurried meals and for emergencies.  Tin cans are easy to recycle, but make sure these are cleaned properly before disposal to prevent bacteria like salmonella from spreading diseases.

II. Heavy Metal Contamination and Coriander Detox

A. Metal Contamination

Miners are not the only people susceptible to heavy metal contamination. We are all exposed to many heavy metals like mercury, lead and aluminium which can cause heart disease, autism, neurological conditions, infertility, thyroid disorders, autism, dementia, birth defects and more.
So, how do these heavy metal contaminate you?

1. Fish that live in the sea for a long time absorb mercury and other heavy metals from oil spills.  
    Fish with no scales and seafood like squid, shellfish, shrimps, and crustaceans, which are    
    considered “ocean janitors”, absorb more heavy metals compared to fish with big scales.

2. Silver-colored dental filling called amalgam contain mercury.  If the filling breaks, mercury
    would leak. But even if it is intact, its vapor spreads throughout the body, which causes        
    depression, anxiety, mood swings and memory loss like Alzheimer’s disease. This metal enters
     our systems causing sickness like frequent headaches, bone loss, allergies, sinusitis and many
     more. I am now finished with my appointments with my dentist to remove my silver amalgam
     fillings. I feel relieved of its ill effects and now able to eat hot food without fear of mercury
     vapors spreading.

     Even braces and retainers contain mercury. According to World Health Organization, there is no        safe level of mercury. The severity of mercury contamination depends on the amount of    
     exposure over time.

3. Some vaccines have mercury content.  But there are mercury-free vaccines for babies, children,    
    adults and elderly.

4. Polluted air and waterways from vehicle and factory emissions are our major source of heavy  
    metals.  Drink filtered water and avoid industrial and heavy traffic-ridden areas to minimize its           effects.

5. Chipped old paints may have lead content. This should be addressed immediately because
    children may pick these chipped paint and ingest them.

6. Aluminum pots and pans when used for cooking mix with our food.

7. Beauty and body care products like make-up, sunblock, and deodorant contain aluminum.
    Always read the content of your favorite products.  It is safer to use organic, all-natural products         because it has no harmful side effects. (Visit Body Care and Hair Care for more information.)

B. Coriander Detox

All these information is very alarming, but there is a modern medical treatment that removes heavy metals in the body. It is called chelation. Chelation is administered to patients intravenously.  This process is very effective but quite costly.

Luckily, Mother Nature has provided us Coriander to be the ‘Poor Man’s Chelation Therapy’ to help cleanse the kidney and other organs.

Dr. David Williams in his website has noted the successful experiments conducted by Dr. Yoshiaki Omura of Heart Research Foundation in New York in treating heavy metal infections using Coriander.

Dr. Omura and his colleagues found no success after prescribing antibiotic and antiviral treatments for metal contamination. These infections would recur after several months and cause even more infections. Dr. Omura recommended Coriander intake of fresh or juice form regularly. Below are the cases of his two successful patients.

1. A patient after taking Vietnamese soup which contained Coriander showed significant release             of mercury which was manifested in his urine laboratory tests.

2. Another patient who was having his amalgam silver fillings removed was given all the dental  
    precautions to prevent mercury from entering his body.  Upon checking, mercury still  
    manifested in his lungs, kidneys, endocrine glands, liver and, heart which had no contamination
    before the said dental procedure.  Using Coriander, Dr. Omura was able to clear this patient
    from mercury contamination after three weeks.

We have different breeds of coriander like Vietnamese Coriander, Korean Coriander and Chinese Parsely (Wan Soy or Cilantro). The leaves have different sizes and shapes, but they smell the same.

The Recommended Intake 

It is recommended to take ¼ cup of tightly-packed, fresh coriander leaves including the stem- once a day- during the detox period.

Do not be in a hurry to detox. Taking more than what is recommended would be too much for the body. It would be difficult for the kidney to excrete these toxins out of the body.  If this happens, it would result to more toxicity instead of a successful detoxification.

If there are discomforts like headache, nervousness, flu-like symptoms, fever or side effects, Dr. David Williams recommends to slow down detoxification to one week, 3-4 times a year.
During our detox, we noticed certain resistance to coughs and colds and better immune system and well-being. It really works for us.

Aside from being an effective metal toxic binding agent and mobilizer, Coriander is also anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, prevents gas and bloating, promotes liver health, and is a good expectorant. It also fights anemia because of its high iron and magnesium content.

Dr. David Williams and Christina Sarich of also recommend to take Chlorella together with Coriander, because Chlorella binds heavy metals exceptionally well and is able to open cell walls necessary for detox. It also binds dioxin and other environmental toxins, improves the body’s master antioxidant - glutathione, and restores healthy flora of the gut.

As we minimize carbon foot print, we also reap the fruits of having a better breathing space, less or no medications costs, lower energy bills to pay, and a joyful home!

When we care for nature, nature also takes care of us.  Despite the pollution in land, air and water, God gave us Coriander to cleanse us from all these unwanted contamination.

Please share the knowledge from these twelve-post series with your family and friends, and spread the good news! By sharing your own green experiences, we open the chance for others to share their knowledge, too, and together, we learn more. The bigger the circle of green friends, the more friends Mother Earth has.

Let us make our homes a happy comfort zone - an economic and a green zone!

Em-em Tinasas, MBA
The Gardener


National Appliance Energy Conservation Act. Retrieved from:
Callard, S., Millis, D. 2009. The eco-living handbook: A complete green guide for your home and life. London, UK, Carlton Books, Ltd.
Page, L. 1992. Healthy healing: An alternative healing reference. p. 13. Healthy Healing Publications, USA.
Coriander. Retrieved from:
Coriander. Retrieved from:
Coriander. Retrieved from:
Stainless steel Retrieved from: Webster’s New Dictionary of the English Language, 2001 edition, Popular Publishing Company, LLC, New York, USA
Induction stove retrieved from:
Mercury retrieved from:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

PART XI: Toxic Gases from Plastics in Clothes, Food Containers, Construction Materials, with Green Tips

PART XI:  Toxic Gases from Plastics in Clothes, Food Containers, Construction Materials, with Green Tips

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Plastic has dominated homes and daily living because of its convenience. Natural fibers from cotton, rayon, hemp and silk are now being completely replaced, or mixed with synthetic resins to make textile and clothes affordable and fashionable.

This, however, is an environmentalist’s nightmare because plastic releases toxic gases called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

Organochlorines and Phenols are the chemicals that make up plastic. These are also the same materials responsible for the emission of VOCs.

Organochlorines, as explained in Part X of this series, are chemicals originally used as disinfectants, herbicides and agricultural pesticides. It was also used to control malaria and typhus. Through research, this chemical together with petroleum, were formed into commercial products such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), chloroform and chloramines, which are all volatile organic compounds.

Phenols, on the other hand, are chemicals used to manufacture paint, paint and varnish removers, lacquer, rubber, ink, perfume, soap, toys and more. Phenolic resins are used in construction and the appliance industries. It also works as plywood adhesive, while Bisphenol A is used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics, epoxy resins and more.

Although there are natural phenols that can be extracted from willow barks like salicylic acid (a component of aspirin), both organochlorines and phenols are chemicals produced in laboratories.


Manufactured plastic have two types: thermoplastics and thermosets.

I.                    THERMOPLASTICS are soft plastics which comprise 80% of manufactured plastic products available in the market.


This is a synthetic resin composed of 57% chlorine, and 43% carbon or gas with ethylene. This is used in producing vinyl flooring, decorative sheets, artificial leathers, drain piping, conduits for wiring, rainwear, garden hoses, sliding flooring, and more.


This plastic material is manufactured into electrical equipment, fluorescent lights, surface coatings, inks, adhesives, flame retardants, paints, etc. 

It is estimated that 10% of PCBs produced in 1929 are still in landfills today. When heated at high temperatures, these generate toxic dioxin. PCBs coming from electrical devices and fluorescent lights, which were carelessly thrown in waterways and channelled to bodies of water continue to cause contamination and fish kill.  This synthetic resin can also accumulate in plants, animals and poultry because of its ability to mix with air and bind strongly with soil.  Contamination from PCBs can cause acne, rashes, liver and biliary cancer.

In 1977, the USA stopped the use of PCB fluorescent lights and electrical devices. That same year, Canada regulated PCBs to be used only at the end of its service life.  In 1988, they also began regulating the handling, transport and destruction of PCB equipment.


Polypropylene is manufactured from propylene gas with a catalyst called titanium chloride. Polyprolylene is a by-product of an oil refining process. In 1954, it was converted into a light, flexible, inexpensive, and non-absorbent fiber material that was easy to customize and dye.

Polypropylenes are found in toys, automobile products, carpets, upholstery, paper stationery coatings, food containers, microwave containers, dishwashers, textiles, labelling papers, containers, housewares, housing materials, packaging fibers, yogurt containers, syrup bottles, straw, drainage pipes, and pumps. 

Polypropylene is reusable and have been used in recycling. However, this plastic has environmental issues. At a high temperature, polypropylene releases irritating vapors which harm the eyes and the respiratory system.  It melts at 130°C.

d.      NYLON

This is a synthetic polymer used as a substitute for silk after World War II.  Nylon is now manufactured into female stockings, parachutes, vehicle tires, tents, ropes, carpets, food packaging, meat wraps, sausage sheaths, hair combs, guitar strings, rackets, petticoats, fake fur coats, and drip dry suits.

When nylon is burned, it releases Hydrogen Cyanide, which is used for the production of synthetic fibers, plastic dyes and pesticides. This toxic substance, however, may constrict the air passages and deter the normal distribution of oxygen to the brain, heart and blood vessels. It also smells like old sneakers.

e.      ACRYLICS

Acrylic fiber is manufactured into acrylic paint, shower doors and windows. This material produces toxic fumes when exposed to direct flame.


This is the most common of all the thermoplastics. This material is commonly used in packaging materials like plastic bags, films, containers, plastic bottles, ice and frozen food bags. Polyethelene burns slowly. As it is burned, it emits an odor similar to paraffin, because of its petrochemical components. It is not readily biodegradable.

II.                  THERMOSETS, in turn, are hard plastics which can no longer be softened.  Among its products are the following:

a.       POLYESTER

Polyester or polyethylene teraphthalate comes from ethylene glycol and teraphthalic acid. (Phthalates are endocrine disrupters as seen on Part X of this series). This synthetic polymer can be found in synthetic carpets. It is also sewn into fashionable pants, blazers, skirts, non-iron and dry-clean-only clothes, underwear, tee-shirts, etc.

At the early stages of its use in the garment industry, clothes were manufactured with 100% polyester. This, however, caused skin irritation. As a solution, it was blended with cotton, and other natural materials to minimize this skin reaction.   

Polyester is also made into plastic bottles, hoses, food trays, upholstery, and fiberglass reinforced plastics used in restaurants, kitchens and restrooms.  Soft drink, juice, beer, detergent and household chemical bottles, for example, are recycled and processed into fibers that can produce clothing, hoses, power belting, ropes, nets, auto upholstery, and more.

Polyester is popular because it is mold and mildew-resistant, quick to wash and dry, holds forms well, and can add more stretch to clothes. However, it is highly flammable and can cause irritation.


Formaldehyde has two types that are widely used in many industries. 
Urea-formaldehyde resins, commonly known as formalin in the Philippines, is a volatile organic compound that produces toxic vapor at room temperature. It is colorless, flammable and has a strong odor that irritates the mucous membrane. The presence of its strong odor is evident in textile stores because textile are treated with formalin to remove wrinkles and be shrink-resistant. This explains why textile store customers usually experience sneezing or teary eyes.  

Apart from textile, urea-formaldehyde is also used in bonding plywood and decorative panel together. It is used for this purpose because it is lighter in color compared to phenol-formaldehyde. It is also less durable and has no sufficient resistance for external use. It is also a component of wallboards, tableware, cosmetic and cosmetic jars, adhesives, paints and coatings, lacquers and finishes, paper products, fabric softeners, dishwashing liquid, medical laboratories, mortuaries for embalming, cigarettes, fertilizers and pesticides.

Phenol-formaldehyde resins, in contrast, make an excellent adhesive for plywood and particle boards.  It is darker in color compared to urea-formaldehyde, and its resistance to moisture makes it good for exterior use on plywood.  Phenolic resins when reinforced with fibers or flakes are also molded into insulating and heat-resistant objects such as appliance handles, distributor caps and brake linings.
Because of these, the highest level of formaldehyde can be detected indoors. 

Building materials, insulations, furniture and furnishings emit formalin for years, not counting the housewares, cosmetics and home cleaning products that we use daily.  Air contaminated with formaldehyde can cause illnesses like bronchitis and chest pains, and eye and throat irritation.

c.       SILICONES

Sealants contain silicone which is used for rubber, plastic surgery and in grease products. This chemical is water-resistant and heat-resistant. The scientific name of silicone is organopolysiloxanes.

d.      MELAMINE

This is a hard thermosetting plastic which has cyanuric acid and formaldehyde. It is a component used in adhesives, countertops, dishware, white covered work surfaces, furniture like Formica, laminated floors, wall panels used as whiteboards, ready-to-assemble-furniture and kitchen cabinets, and saturated decorative papers laminated on particle boards.  

Melamine dishware like cups and plates are easily scratched and stained, which caused its sales to decline.  These scratches in melamine dishware are hazardous to health. It may cause an irritable bladder, blood in the urine, kidney infection, and high blood pressure. When highly acidic food is heated in a melamine microwave-safe dishware at 160°F or higher, toxic materials can start contaminating food. Thus, it would be good to check the instructions enclosed in the dishware before using it in the microwave.  Aside from dishware, it is also used as camping and nursery products.

These are alarming information, but we can exercise caution to protect our families and           our homes. Here are some green tips which you can easily adapt to your lifestyle.

1.       Plastic wrappers and containers should be used with care.

It is advised to avoid using cling wraps. Fatty foods absorb plastic components that are harmful when eaten. Thus, the use of cellophane or grease-proof waxed paper are recommended.  Stainless food containers and paper bags are also very good options.

Avoid exposing plastic containers at high temperatures. If it is inevitable, make sure that these plastic food containers have no scratches, breakage or any damage to avoid the leak of VOCs. 

Reading the instructions on how to clean plastic containers should also be a top priority. Choose a good sponge to wash plastic containers. Remember, using scouring pads would cause scratches to plastic.

2.       Paint and varnish

3.       Furniture

Wood and natural materials gives a safer and far more comfortable home atmosphere.  

4.       Wallpaper

Vinyl-based paper with paste contain solvents that do not allow the wall to breathe. This might cause structural problems eventually. Chlorine-free wallpapers with water-based inks are suggested and available in the market.

5.       Flooring

            There are many ways to design natural flooring.

First, one can opt for a wooden flooring. Wooden floors are cool in summer and warm during cold weather. Natural floorboards from wood may be painted with vegetable-based wood stains, polishes, or water-based varnish for an aesthetic touch.

Second, natural linoleum is available and may be made from any of the following: linseed oil, pine tree, cork, chalk, and jute backing. Natural linoleum is typically used in the kitchen for easy clean-up.  

Third, coco coir made of 100% coconut husk fibers may be made into doormats. Flooring using coco coir is long lasting and eco-friendly.  Because of its durability, it has been used in making rope and twine. Coco coir also prevents bacteria and eliminate the chances of allergy, asthma and eczema, a common occurrence in synthetic carpets. 

6.       Fabrics

Fabrics are closest to our skin, the biggest organ of the body. Thus, we need to be more cautious about our clothing choices.

Below are some reminders for the next time you go shopping.
a.       Read the material composition of a clothing article before buying it. Look for the label indicating if it is made of pure cotton, rayon, hemp or if it has a mixture of synthetic fibers. This label will also show the percentage of mixtures as well (e.g. 65% polyester, 35% cotton).

According to a saleslady of a popular department store here in Manila, the difference between pure cotton and polyester is evident. If a piece of clothing has polyester, shiny fibers are exposed against close lighting. This does not happen with articles using 100% cotton.

It is best to choose organic fabrics, but, as of now, it is not readily available in many parts of the world yet. So far, the options are limited to cotton, rayon and hemp fabrics. As a rule of thumb, the higher the cotton, rayon and hemp fabric content, the better. 

Lucky for us in the Philippines, fashionable garments showcasing our Philippine indigenous materials will soon make way in malls. We hope these will be welcomed and supported.

b.       ‘Non-iron, dry-clean only’ clothes contain polyester and acetate. These synthetic fabrics usually cause skin irritation in the armpit and other delicate areas. The sap from aloe vera and katakataka will help relieve the itch and inflammation. Boiled guava leaves can also be applied for faster healing.

But if you completely want to do away with your fabrics with thermoplastics, just donate or creatively recycle these into household objects. Japan has recycling plants that creatively repurpose fabrics into useful and sellable products. Remember, throwing non-biodegradable clothing in landfills will just pollute the soil and water.

c.       Fabric dye

If available at your locality, buy clothes that use vegetable-based inks.                  

7.        Cosmetics and Detergents

There are organic dishwashing and laundry soaps, and cosmetic products already available in the market. These are a little pricier than commercial detergents but weighing the benefits can prove more economical. 

The organic laundry soap comes from natural ingredients like coconut oil. Clothes washed with it smell good whether it is sun-dried or not, and it even drives away mosquitoes while it’s in the clothes line. It does not need fabric softener and it is not harmful to the skin. Even the remaining soapy water can be safely used to water plants. (Vinegar may also be used to soften the towels. Visit Part 5: HomeCleaners for more laundry green tips.)

8.       Air Fresheners

Instead of using commercial air fresheners that cause respiratory diseases, just decorate your home with fresh flowers or fresh herbs. Fragrant herbs can also be dried to make homemade herbal oil and potpourri. (Learn how to make Homemade Citronella Oil here.)

9.       Disinfectants

Who needs to buy commercial cleaning agents when you have them in your pantry? Vinegar, lemon, kalamansi, regular soap and hot water are environment-friendly ways to clean your entire home at a fraction of the cost.  (Check out Part 5: Home Cleaners of this series to find out how you can make a simple and safe disinfectant for your home.)

It is overwhelming to know that Volatile Organic Compounds from plastics have invaded and contaminated our homes and our beautiful world for years.

This is a toxic reality! But there are many diligent ways that we can do make our home and the world happy and green.


Luckily, there are green products now available in the market worldwide.  In the Philippines, eco-friendly products are labelled with a ‘Green Choice Philippines’ seal. This seal is eco-labelled on products like sugar, electrical appliances, machines and equipment, construction materials, disinfectants, and many more. This signifies that these products were manufactured in a more environmental manner.
The Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, Inc. (PCEPSDI), the non-government organization which acts as administrator to the National Ecolabelling Program, is based on ISO 14024. PCEPSDI is part of a worldwide organization that ecolabels green products. It aims to encourage clean manufacturing practices and environmentally preferred products. 

This Ecolabelling Program is under the auspices of the Department of Trade Industry (DTI), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and an affiliate of Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP). These agencies have technical experts from the government and independent bodies alike, who evaluate the performance and design of products based on a multi-level criteria in a life cycle assessment, and environmental considerations on energy efficiency, retrieval of wastes generated and environmental health and safety.  
It is very encouraging, indeed, that Pope Francis has affirmed our environmental advocacy in his Encyclical entitled Laudato Si’. In the encyclical, the Pope said, “The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded and promoted by market forces.” (190) [Thus, we need] “Education in environmental responsibility by avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights. Reuse instead of immediately discarding when done for the right reasons can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity.”  (213)
We need a change of heart to be able to consciously care. Surely, we will do everything to provide the best life and ventilation for our family and home. Happy searching for the unfriendly VOCs! Good luck!
Coming Soon:
Part XII : Metals: Appliances - Refrigerator, Washing Machine, Oven, etc.



Callard, S, Millis D. 2009, The Eco-living Handbook, A Complete Green Guide for your Home and Life, pp. 54-56, 59-60, London, UK, Carlton Books, Ltd.
Plastic does not biodegrade. Retrieved from
Plastic never goes away. Retrieved from
What is PVC: Retrieved from
PCBs Polychlorinated biphenyls. Retrieved from
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). Retrieved from:
Polypropelene. Retrieved from:
Polypropylene. Retrieved from
Nylon. Retrieved from
What is acrylic. Retrieved from:
Polyethelene. Retrieved from:
Polyester. Retrieved from:
Formaldehyde. (1992). In Encyclopedia Britannica (15th ed., p. 883). USA.
Formaldehyde. (1992). In Encyclopedia Britannica (15th Edition, p. 345). USA.
What is polyester. Retrieved from:
Silicone resins. Retrieved from:
Questions and answers on melamine. Retrieved from:
Melamine in tableware: Questions and answers. Retrieved from:
Barlow, J., & Johnson, J. A. P. (2007, November 7). Early life exposure to phenols and breast cancer risk in the later years. Retrieved from:
Hydrogen cyanide (AC): Systematic agent.
Polyester fiber. Retrieved from:
Polyethylene terephthalate. Retrieved from:
Phenol-formaldehyde. Retrieved from:

Urea-formaldehyde. Retrieved from:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Part X: Male Infertility, Miscarriage, Food Toxicity, Cancer - Paint, Ink, Detergent, Canned Food, Plastics, and Green Tips

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There are many useful things around the house that may look harmless but pose significant effect on the human well-being because of their chemical content. These chemicals are called endocrine disrupters.  They contain hormone disrupting compounds (HDCs) which mimic estrogen, the female hormone, which cause low sperm count, male infertility, miscarriage, and toxicity in food and diseases.

These chemicals started as solutions for pesticides, herbicides and disinfectants such as:

1. DDT or Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane 

DDT is a colorless, tasteless, and almost odourless crystalline containing organochloride.  This was used during World War II to control malaria and typhus. After the war, DDT was used as an agricultural pesticide but was banned in the USA in 1972. Eventually, it was also prohibited worldwide. Later on, it was allowed for use as an ‘indoor residual spray’ to control malaria in poor nations where it remains a continuing health problem. The use of DDT remains controversial because of its adverse effects on the human health and environment.  

2. Lindane 

Lindane was used worldwide as a pesticide.  It contains an organochlorine chemical which was banned for agricultural use. Now, it is being used in shampoos and lotions in the USA to control head lice and scabies. A study shows that 62% of people tested reveal lindane components in the blood.  

Infants are also exposed to lindane through the placenta and breastmilk.  Lindane residues contaminate common foods like rice and potatoes when it is used as agricultural pesticide. It has damaging effects on the nervous system, causes cancer and liver toxicity.  Lindane interferes with the hormone levels of men causing a lowering sperm count. A high level of this substance in pregnant women may also cause miscarriage or premature birth.

A report from International POPS Elimination Network showed there are alternatives to lindane.  Since California banned lindane in 2001, their water has been cleaner. There was significantly lesser risk and exposure to chemicals according to Environmental Health Perspectives.

3. Dioxin

Dioxin is the undesirable by-product of manufacturing herbicide and disinfectant, which are clearly two of the most toxic man-made substances. 

Dioxin is scientifically called dibenzo-p-dioxin, a compound of benzene, chlorine, etc. which enter  fatty tissues of the body causing chronic cancer, skin disease, muscular dysfunction, impotence, birth defects, genetic mutation and nervous system disorder. 

In 1976, there was an overheating of Dioxin in Seveso, Italy. This caused the evacuation of 700 residents because of its explosive reaction. This incident contaminated plants and animals around the area. 

Dioxin was also used in Vietnam as an herbicide to destroy the grass where railways and highways were being constructed. 

There is also dioxin contamination when plastics are being burned in incinerators. After burning, more residues of this toxic waste remain.

After decades, these Hormone Disrupting Compounds (HDCs) are now in commercial products which invade our homes through the practical products we enjoy.  

1. Phthalates is a component of plastic vinyl flooring, paint, and ink.

2. Alkyphenols compounds are ingredients of detergents, paints, and shampoos.

3. Bisphenol A are in food cans, metal bottle tops, and toys.

4. Organochlorines produce compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB); polyvinylchloride (PVC), chloroform and chloramine compounds.

These hormone benders are found in vegetables and food that are treated with pesticide, and in synthetic products such as food packaging materials, children’s toys, detergents, cosmetics, household cleaners, air fresheners and more. These synthetic compounds build up in the fats of fish, poultry and livestock which can contaminate even breastmilk of nursing mothers.  Since organochlorines were formulated originally for pesticides, herbicides and disinfectants, its compounds have the ability to exist as vapor, oil or in solid form.  

This is reality. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid or minimize the adverse effects of these harmful compounds in our homes.


Take note of the following when choosing paint for your home.

a. Use paints from natural resins.
b. For low odor paint use hospital paint.
c. Dry excess paint first if you plan on throwing it out.
d. Look for limewash mineral- based or plant-based paint for walls and ceilings.
e. Choose solvent-free products.
f. Choose natural unpainted finishes.


Choose plant-based resins and plant-based solvents which allow wood to breath. Wood reacts to oil and resins. 

Pure beeswax or linseed oil is good for finishing wood surfaces. It gives a beautiful shine, scent and prevents static.


When using plastic, remember the following:

a. As much as possible, use paper bags. After use, these paper bags may be donated or sold to the Bote Dyaryo man (recyclable collector) who buys bottles and newspapers from households, and resells them at Php1 per kilo for paper and Php2 per kilo for cartons.
b. Avoid using damaged soft or hard plastics for food.  Any scratch or breakage in plastic containers releases toxic synthetic chemicals and preservatives that cause food contamination.


Use organic or natural detergent because clothes are closest to the skin.  (Read more on Home Cleaners.)


Use organic shampoo or natural shampoo like Gugo bark.  You can make your own shampoo. (Read more about Hair Care.)


Organic chicken, beef, eggs, vegetables and other food are recommended for good health since these are naturally grown.  The natural taste of vegetables are mild and sweet. Chicken, beef, and other meats are tastier. A little of it is enough to give flavour to dishes. 

Try simple gardening and harvest the best benefits. (Read more on Make Herbal Gardening Your Workout.)


Use herbs as natural pesticides. Oregano leaves or any minty herb may be crushed in water. The solution can poured or sprayed on the leaves and the stems of plants to drive away pests. 

The bitter leaves of Neem Tree and Serpentina, and the fragrant leaves Citronella and Lemon Grass are effective pesticides. (Read more about Serpentina and Citronella and Neem Tree.)


Minimize eating canned goods altogether. Should you buy canned goods, remember to check the expiration date and make sure there are no dents or damage on the cans.  Do not eat the content if it does not taste good. 

If you are recycling, donating or selling the cans make sure they are cleaned properly to prevent bacteria, especially salmonella bacteria, from spreading around the community.


Glass bottles are preferred to plastic bottles because glass bottles may be reused. Plastic bottle covers are better than metal ones though because these rust in time.


Choose natural products that use wood, rattan etc. as furniture. 

Some chemical solutions produce more problems than solutions.  May your awareness of these ‘endocrine disrupters’ be your guide in the next purchases for your family and your home. Remember, your choices affect your loved ones’ present and future. 

Up Next: 
Part XI: Toxic Gases from Plastics: Clothes, Food Containers, Construction Materials, etc.

The Gardener


Encyclopedia Brittanica. (1992) 15th edition, Micropedia 7, p. 371 

Encyclopedia Brittanica. (1992) 15th edition, Micropedia 4, p. 113

Callard, S., Millis, D. (2009) The eco-living handbook: A complete guide for your home and life, pp. 40-43, 52-61, 72, London, UK: Carlton Books Ltd.

Lindane. (n.d.). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from 

Sadasivaiah, S., Tozan, Y., & Breman, J. (n.d.). Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) for Indoor Residual Spraying in Africa: How Can It Be Used for Malaria Control? Retrieved June 8, 2015, from 

DDT. (n.d.). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from

PCBs Polychlorinated biphenyls. (n.d.). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from

Basic Information. (n.d.). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from

Monday, April 20, 2015


PART IX: Electromagnetic Radiation - Television, Computer, Appliances, Cell Phone and Green Tips

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Every modern home is loaded with modern technology.  As we enjoy man-made inventions, we should also be aware of our responsibility to human well-being and the world we live in, even if we can easily afford the costly power bills. There is reason for alarm since every electronic equipment in our homes produces electromagnetic radiation (EMR) in our atmosphere.

EMR can be classified in three categories.


This differ in intensity as follows:

a. Electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) are produced by power cables, radio, television,
computers and IT Equipment, nautical and maritime navigation equipment and more.  EMFs emit intense frequencies. To communicate, the telephone produces radio waves at 10,000 hertz while the high fidelity sound produces 20,000 hertz.

b. Extremely low electromagnetic frequencies (ELFs) are produced by LED lights (light emitting diodes), food warmers in restaurants, microwave oven for food and more.  ELFs have a range of 1 to 100 hertz cycle per second and a wavelength of 1 to 100 meters long wavelength. The microwave oven produces a 100 hertz cycle per second with a 100-meter long wavelength.  These less intense frequency can affect the electrochemical balance of the brain and development of the fetus if the waves are modulated at a low frequency between 5 and 100 hertz per second, because these has the same magnitude as brain wave frequencies according to Encyclopedia Brittanica. The proximity to extremely low electromagnetic frequencies like power transmissions or directly using gadgets like heating blankets has adverse effect on the health and balance of the brain.

The widely used mobile phone or handheld cellular phone and tower-based antennas expose the users to radio frequencies or radio waves. The cell phone has 1,800 to 2,200 megahertz. It has the same frequency as the cordless telephone except that the cordless gadget has limited range and has less power.  This non-ionizing radiation is easily absorbed by the body tissues closest to the handset, tower-based antenna equipment or cordless telephone.  Using these for about 30 minutes a day is a cause of concern for risk of illnesses like brain tumour, salivary gland tumour and genetic damage.
Also, working with a computer exposes the user to two radio frequencies - strong electromagnetic frequencies and extremely low electromagnetic frequencies. The result is eye strain, headache, high blood pressure and stress.

But there are ways to minimize the risk of these illnesses when using these equipment and gadgets.

Here are some green tips:

a. Reduce exposure to cell phone by having shorter conversations or using landline phones.
b. Use a hand-free device to have a distance between user and cell phone.
c. Switch off and unplug all electrical equipment when not in use.
d. Position workplace near the window preferably near the garden which is stimulating.  Eco-research showed people work more productively in natural lighting.
e. Do not leave appliance or equipment on standby. Plugged appliances when not being used account for 20 to 40% of the power bill because power keeps running and being registered in the electric meter.
f. If the computer, lights or appliances will not be used within 15 minutes, better switch or plug them off.  
g. Screen savers are not energy savers.
h. Recycle personal computers by donating to charity instead of throwing into landfills, because computers are toxic and will surely pollute the earth.


Ionization produces radiation as classified below:

a. Non-ionizing radiation.  These are sound waves, microwave for communication and food, infrared radiation lamps (ex. LED lights), radio, television, cell phone and tower-based antenna, and more.  Non- ionizing radiation has enough energy to move a molecule around to cause them to vibrate but not enough to remove the electrons from molecules.

The side effects of using these are hay fever, migraine and stress.  To minimize health inconvenience, here are some green tips:

1. Limit the number of electrical and electronic devices at home.
2. Use natural materials for furniture and walls.
3. Bring in plants as natural ionizer. (Make sure it gets sunlight first and to take it out at night.)
4. Use electric ionizer.
5. Make sure your home has adequate ventilation.

b. Ionizing radiation. These are x-ray machines, CT scans, and other medical equipment. Ionizing radiation have enough energy to break chemical bonds between 2 carbon atoms. Ionizing radiation is capable of removing directly or indirectly electrons from most molecules. These medical equipment are managed by professionals for safety purposes.


These are emissions that have weak charges of electricity which cannot be unearthed due to the presence of insulating materials such as rubber and synthetic carpets. But when these static build up, metals near the computer can be charged since metals are good conductors of electricity.

To reduce the risk of static, here are some green tips:

a. Use materials like wood and leather which will allow static to disperse.
b. Metals conduct electricity thus, avoid metal furniture, beds with frame or springs near the computer.
c. Use anti- glare screens for computers.
d. The use of pure beeswax or linseed oil for finishing surfaces combat static.

As we use technology, let us remember the needs of our natural beings.  Using computers cause health-related injuries called Repetitive Strain Injury or RSI.

Here are some precautionary measures:
a. Stop for 10 min. for every 40 to 50 min. using computers. Do some stretching.
b. Adjust depth vision by focusing eyes in far objects every 30 minutes, because eyes become tired after focusing at short range for a long time.
c. Blink and look away from computer regularly.
d. Keep mouse clean since grease and dirt build- up makes it slow down.  It is harder to use because there is increased effort and there is a tendency to develop RSI. Using key board connects more.
e. Position mouse at the same height with keyboard to avoid shoulder strain.
f. Buy a wrist rest to support your hands
g. Relieve yourself from stress by means of exercise or listening to music.
h. There are also herbs that remove stress like holy basil or tulsi. Tarragon is also relaxing. Just check out for more of these herbs.
i. Sit well back from the screen but not to one side because it is at the sides that radiation is leaked.
j. The desk should have enough space to sit properly. Your distance from the screen is preferably 20 inches or 50 cm.
k. Supportive chair should be adjustable to prevent slouching.
l. Choose a light bulb that will serve one’s specific needs. There two kinds of light bulbs that are widely used to suit one’s needs:
        1. LED or light emission diodes gives directional light with minimum emission and saves energy cost.
        2. Incandescent light bulbs produce 90% energy that is only converted to heat, while it only produces 10% light.

Aside from different waves that we receive from technological pollution, the power plants produce a large amount of greenhouse gases to be able to serve our power demands.  Electricity produced from fossil fuel emit sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide, while those produced from coal emit carbon dioxide.

Our Creator has provided all our needs out of nothing - the air to breathe, space to move around, eyes to see, plants and herbs to feed and relieve us, and many more. Man created something out of nature we call necessities. Let us evaluate our ‘real needs’ and mere wants. Wants arise from a “propaganda of false needs” that push us to excessive use which conflict with our human nature and ecology.

Let us exercise discernment! The benefit of limiting our use of technology to moderation or even a minimum will manifest not only in our health but in our lower power bills at home. Our return to the simple life is our recourse to protect the world we live in.

The human heart emits two Hertz cycle per second which adversely reacts to electromagnetic fields emitted outside.  We are living witnesses to technological advancements that have caused serious illnesses and man-made calamities. Let us heed Mother Nature’s call for prudence while enjoying modern privileges!

Em-em Tinasas, MBA 
The Gardener

Callard, S. and Millis, D. (2009) Eco-living handbook: A complete green guide for your home and life. London: Carlton Books Ltd.

Radiation: Non-Ionizing and Ionizing. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Ionization. (1992). In Encyclopedia Brittanica (15th ed., pp. 200-202).

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Cell Phones and Cancer Risk. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2015, from

The Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation. (n.d.). Retrieved from