Occupational Hazards

Posted to Subscribers on 25 April 2014


Dear Subscribers,

Aside from war and obviously dangerous activities such as jousting and dueling, the first occupational hazard to be rigorously studied by medicine probably concerned the cleaning of chimneys. There was a time when young boys and occasionally girls were used to crawl inside chimneys to extinguish fires and remove soot. This work was often performed in the buff and the boys, who started work as early as six years of age, frequently developed cancer of the scrotum when they reached their teens. As time went on, equipment for cleaning chimneys was developed, and laws were passed to protect children from such risks. However, the conditions in coal mines were hardly much better.

Later, there was concern over the dangers to workers who painted radium on the dials of watches and clocks. This work was usually done by girls or young women who often put the brushes into their mouths to shape the bristles. Workers sometimes developed degenerative diseases of the jaw. Osteonecrosis became officially recognized as an occupational disease and workers were instructed not to put the brushes into their mouths, thereby eventually reducing this particular form of malignancy to zero. However, the clocks are still dangerous because the form of radium used to paint the dials has a half life of 1600 years and this radium-226 emits both gamma and alpha radiation, meaning these antiques should be avoided.

It is not necessary to go into more detail about the history of occupations that no longer exist. The point is simply that officialdom is generally slow to recognize hazards and to take the measures necessary to curb risks. Therefore, it is up to individuals to connect the dots and implement the safety precautions that are necessary. This said, to give this subject a much more modern slant, I would like to mention that when computers were new and monitors were big and bulky, the CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors emitted radiation. I wrote articles in the 80s and early 90s about the risks and noted that the safety level in the U.S. allowed for much higher exposure than in Europe. Stubborn sterility was then one of the more notable side effects. This was often found among employees who worked in rooms with many monitors, travel agencies and such types of places. As would have been expected of radiation, the walls did not serve as adequate barriers to exposure.

Okay, I think I have set the stage enough. We realize that there is a delayed onset of symptoms so even after exposure has ceased, the consequences can still manifest as medical conditions later. I.e., even though boys became too big to squirm about in chimneys with only nine inches of clearance and they went on to other work, their scrotums were still damaged and disease ran its course. Obviously, the same is true of radium. It is viewed by the body as a substitute for calcium and accumulates in the bones which then become necrotic or malignant. . . often years after exposure.

You know that I am always looking for the cause. I have worked with countless people who were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Agent Orange is an herbicide and defoliant, produced by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical. It is a form of dioxin and is hugely toxic. We can let future generations of historians decide whether the purpose was to destroy the cover used by the Viet Cong or eliminate competition to synthetic rubber by the natural rubber that was produced in Vietnam. Even though I was in Vietnam at the time this was happening, I was not privy to the considerations affecting military strategies. I can, however, say that there was obliviously no intent to win the war so we do have to look for other explanations for what was going on and why.

With the Gulf War(s), the risks are even greater than they were in Vietnam because radioactive depleted uranium became airborne and can be found thousands of miles from the sites where it was first used. In short, these dispersions are accidents waiting to happen. Not only is the soil and water polluted for staggering lengths of time, but all who depend on the soil and water for their survival are also impacted. From an environmental standpoint, these weapons are horrendous and should be banned by treaties. Well, war itself should be banned. Mature people can sort out issues at a conference table. Only bullies need weapons.

Okay, I will step down from my bandstand, but I feel I earned the right to speak out against war by spending 20 months in Vietnam in the sixties.

There are many serious occupational hazards and some perhaps not quite as serious. For instance, many who work at computers have carpal tunnel syndrome, but it is not fatal. However, inhaling fumes in a paint factory or printing company can be lethal, ditto for dry cleaning plants, many hair dressing salons and nurseries, farms, and so on and so forth. So when I ask people about their occupations, I am not being nosy, but merely trying to get to the core of the issues.

You realize, of course, that very few people consult medical astrologers before seeing their doctors. We are usually the last hope after everything else has failed so we have to be thorough and connect a lot of dots.

Now, let's widen the context a bit. We know that mercury is toxic but the debates over amalgam dental materials continue despite the evidence. We also know that arsenic and countless other metals are toxic, but these are found in agricultural chemicals and medicines. They get into our soil and water and then into our food supply. Some people tell me that their parents had cancer and their grandparents also had cancer so the question I ask is whether we want to search for explanations in the genes or find out whether the life styles have changed significantly in recent generations. Sometimes people live on ranches and even the horses have cancer so are we going to look at DNA or well water or something else unique to that ranch? At some point, we can then draw a line between what is an occupational hazard and what is an environmental hazard. We can, of course, also banish the thought forms surrounding genetics.

Dotting all the "i's", we can see that countless occupations have specific risks associated with the job. Working in a gas station involves higher than usual exposure to fumes, but there are white collar hazards as well. For instance doctors are exposed to sick people who might be carriers. In fact, the doctors can themselves become carriers. There was one study advocating that doctors not wear ties because the ties are often contaminated and can pass germs from one person to another. Radiologists are exposed to all sorts of intense electromagnetic fields as well as radiation, not to mention what laboratory researchers handle. We would not today have a global epidemic of Lyme disease if proper protocols had been followed on Plum Island.

Now, we can review what I have said before about hazards that are quantifiable and those that are viable and hence not limited by what we might call finite or measurable doses. Exposure to chemicals and metals is ubiquitous but the toxins do not replicate. So long as they are in the body, they may act as poisons, anything from contaminants in the blood to hormone disruptors, but unless the exposure increases, the level of toxicity does not increase. Well, this is not quite 100% true since toxins that cause free radicals to form do escalate the risks. In any event, we should not ignore exposures that took place years ago. We should try to detoxify until all the toxins are removed since organ failure can still occur years after the original exposure.

With viable hazards such as yeast and mold as well as bacteria and viruses, the risks are not self-limiting. We can add parasites to this list since they can lay millions of eggs and produce countless offspring that will eventually consume the host unless evicted. In general, it is better to deal with the viable organisms first since they are going to get worse unless stopped. Actually, we can add radiation to this list because even though the exposure may have been finite, as measured in sieverts or rads or whatever, the emissions cause chain reactions that are not self-limiting so radiation is more similar to a viable toxin than to a quantifiable one.

By now it ought to be obvious that everyone needs to detoxify. If the world were clean and our environments were wholesome, we might not need to detoxify very often, but in today's world, we should probably detoxify at least twice annually for about three weeks at a stretch. Then, every five years or so, we should undergo a more serious effort to detoxify. Skip this and we leave the accidents that are waiting to happen. Obviously, I pulled those numbers more or less out of thin air. There are people who need to concentrate on detoxification immediately and to continue for two years, but unless there are symptoms, most people can allocate some time and effort to maintenance now and then. You know, we have rituals of spring cleaning for the house and we change the oil and check the tires of our cars before road trips so why wouldn't we invest just as much or more in our bodies?

I don't know if I am aging or my correspondents are aging, but these days I am hearing from a lot of people whose present crises are directly attributable to deferred maintenance. At the point that someone is told that unless the knees get better, surgery will be required, or unless the osteoporosis is reversed, all kinds of horror is ahead, one should immediately study the life style and make the adjustments that will improve the prospects of a healthy and comfortable future.

Traditionally, people used to fast during particular harvests. For example, when grapes are harvested, people used to eat grapes for weeks. This was a very healthy custom. I have seen similar festivities surrounding apples and even chili peppers. The problem is that today, more people live in cities than was ever the case in earlier times. For urban dwellers, food comes from a store, not land. They have never seen an onion or potato flower. They might not even ever have had dirt under their fingernails. There is a global movement now towards locavorism, meaning relying on food that is not only grown locally but is consumed in season. This means it was allowed to ripen before being harvested, and it was not subjected to all the tortures of transport, which often include irradiation and spraying. The spread of farmers' markets is just one indication of how popular this concept is becoming. It also makes the farmers more personally responsible to consumers, and it saves a lot of money that otherwise goes to transport and packaging.

Eating foods in season is probably strengthening because plants adapt and they change with the season. For example, toxins are often hot. During summer, the weather is also hot and eventually our bodies have too much heat. Baby plants that are harvested early in the growing season are usually milder tasting, but the leaves become bitter as the heat accumulates. This helps us to detoxify our livers and blood. In short, there are countless reasons for eating what is in season and what is grown locally.

To make it easier to remember to detoxify, why don't we think of times that are more convenient for focusing on what our bodies need, like perhaps the time when the children go back to school or right after the indulgent holidays. We can do our year-long tune ups on the years in which we become a multiple of five, like age 35, 40, 45, and so on and so forth. That way, we would not forget.

One of my "orphan" sites has a lot of material on detoxification:


I call it an "orphan" because I have not added any new material in many years.

There are a lot of herbs for detoxification:



There are also books for growing your own medicinal plants:


Many blessings,



Kitchen Doctor






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