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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Toxic 'carbon tet' lingers in air near schools



Source of Image:http://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/ToxicUpdates/photo.gif

An important news article, written by James Bruggers, of USA TODAY appeared in today's online edition of USA Today. Mr. Bruggers discusses the chemical Carbon Tetrachloride in his article:

"For much of the 20th century, carbon tetrachloride was regarded as a miracle chemical: It was used to put out fires, degrease machines, kill bugs, dry-clean clothing and even help stamp collectors detect forgeries."

"From the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s, most of those uses were discontinued for health and safety reasons. Then came what appeared to be the final blow: Thirteen years ago, carbon tetrachloride and other chemicals that were eating up the Earth's ozone layer were banned or restricted under the Montreal Protocol. The treaty, ratified years earlier by the United States and 193 other countries, was designed to protect the layer of the atmosphere that filters the sun's dangerous ultraviolet radiation."

"Despite all of these efforts to eliminate carbon tetrachloride — classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen and known to damage the liver, kidneys and brain — it still shows up at elevated levels around the world, scientists say. That's a testament, they say, to its past widespread use and its tough-as-nails persistence."

"USA TODAY found it outside 70 of 95 schools in 30 states it monitored for a week last fall as part of its "Smokestack Effect" series, yet there were no obvious industrial sources to explain the readings. And in recent years, as more communities and the EPA have taken greater stock of the toxic chemicals found in the air we breathe, carbon tetrachloride accounts for 12% to 15% of cancer risks from toxic chemicals in some places. And those are risks that will not be going away soon."

"Allen Robinson, a Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor who has studied toxic air in Pittsburgh, says carbon tet, which once held an honored place in laundry rooms across America as an effective spot remover, serves as a particularly resonant cautionary tale. "This is a great example of … where we thought we had some great technology, but we learned there were unintended environmental consequences," Robinson says. "Unfortunately, … we've placed those consequences onto future generations."

"For Jane Williams, chair of the Sierra Club's Toxics Committee, carbon tet illustrates how so-called bans are often incomplete and how it can be hard to fix mistakes: "It's like Pandora's box. Once you open it up, you can't put it back in the box."

To read the remainder of this article go to: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/2009-05-19-carbontet_N.htm

Here are some other key things which you need to know about Carbon tetrachloride:

(1) It is a colourless liquid with a "sweet" smell that can be detected at low levels.

(2)Carbon tetrachloride was originally synthesised in 1839 by reaction of chloroform with chlorine, from the French chemist Henri Victor Regnault,put now it is mainly synthesized from methane: CH4 + 4 Cl2 → CCl4 + 4 HCl

(3)Under high temperatures in air, it forms poisonous phosgene (phosgene is the chemical compound with the formula COCl2. This colorless gas gained infamy as a chemical weapon during World War I, but it is also a valued industrial reagent and building block in organic synthesis. In low concentrations, its odor resembles freshly cut hay or grass.

(4)Exposure to high concentrations of carbon tetrachloride (including vapor) can affect the central nervous system, degenerate the liver and kidneys and may result (after prolonged exposure) in coma and even death. Chronic exposure to carbon tetrachloride can cause liver, and kidney damage and could result in cancer.

(5)Carbon tetrachloride is also both ozone-depleting and a greenhouse gas.

(6)Carbon tetrachloride does not occur naturally. Exposure to this substance results mostly from breathing air, drinking water, or coming in contact with soil that is contaminated with it.

(7)Carbon tetrachloride can cause cancer in animals.

(8) In the United States, Carbon tetrachloride has been found in at least 425 of the 1,662 National Priority List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

(8)How can families reduce the risks of exposure to carbon tetrachloride?

* Discard any product that contains carbon tetrachloride that you may have at home and may have used in the past.
* Household chemicals should be stored out of the reach of children in their original containers.
* Sometimes older children sniff household chemical products to get high. Talk to your children about the dangers of sniffing chemicals.

sources:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_tetrachloride, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts30.html

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"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed



Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia



A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed



Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein



The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi



The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller



Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns



Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama



Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -



Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being



The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.