Thursday, August 11, 2011

Scare-mail tactics and the dangers of benzene

I am not particularly fond of extremists. As a matter of fact, I strongly dislike them. That's why I get upset with those forwarded emails that contain half-truths. Extremists like to create panic it seems. Or, at least they like to color the truth a bit in an attempt to make a stronger point. All they do, however, is weaken their stand, because, in the end, there is no stability in lies.

My husband got an email a couple of days ago about the dangers of benzene. Fair enough. It is dangerous. Benzene is a known carcinogen which also causes anemia, can reduce white blood cells, poison bones, cause miscarriage, and with prolonged exposure, can cause leukemia. Scary stuff.

I have no problem with letting people know of the dangers of toxic substances. That's not my point. My point is the hysteria of the email and the twisted truths.

Supposedly, if you get in your car on a hot day and turn on the air conditioning without opening the windows first, you are going to be exposed to massive amounts of benzene, and, unless you're lucky, you are going to die from it. Well, the email doesn't actually say that, but the subtle indications are there.

Here's the truth of the matter: If you inhale excessive amounts of benzene, the toxins in it will likely affect your kidneys and liver, as well as cause the above disorders. Notice that I said excessive.

If you park your car in the sun on a warm to hot day, the benzene level is said to go up to 2000 - 4000 mg -- 40 times the acceptable level. However, the Benzene is not being emitted from your AC ... the plastics and vinyls in your car off-gas trace amounts of benzene. According to studies, the levels are higher in older cars, and surprisingly enough, and not mentioned in the scare-mail, are significantly higher in winter months.

What does this all mean? It means use your common sense. If a toxic gas is building up in your closed up car, whether it's hot or cold, let it escape before you start driving. Open up the windows a bit before you turn on your AC or heat, especially if you are pregnant or have small children in the car!!

There's really nothing you can do about the benzene being there. So just let the gas escape before closing the windows up tight to cool or heat your car. It's just common sense.

Keeping it healthy,


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