Don’t breathe the air

Breathing is becoming increasingly dangerous, especially following accidents that release toxic fumes into the atmosphere. During the fire at the Notre Dame cathedral, at least 450 tons of lead were released into the atmosphere from the melting spire and roof. That is more than four times the yearly atmospheric lead emissions for the whole of France. Lead doesn’t usually spread through the atmosphere, but the intensity of the fire vaporized the lead into fine particles that spread with the wind.

That sweet smell emanating from someone vaping near us may be dangerous.

To minimize this particulate spread, French police suggested that local residents use wet wipes to remove lead dust from surfaces and furniture and that anyone concerned should consult their doctor. The medical profession, however, has yet to advise people in the area how to minimize the effects of inhaled lead.

Fires in community settings are unusual. There are more common ways that people can injure their lungs. Cigarette smoking is one well established way.  A more recent and much more sinister way, vaping, is finally receiving the attention it deserves. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last that at least 215 acute, severe respiratory distress cases caused by vaping have been identified and at least 2 deaths have occurred.

E-cigarette fluids have been shown to contain at least half a dozen groups of potentially toxic compounds, including nicotine and fungal elements.

Some studies are now suggesting that liquids in e cigarettes, especially those containing fruit or sweet flavours, may have deleterious effects worse than tobacco.

That seemingly innocuous, sweet smell emanating from someone vaping nearby may be more dangerous than we thought.

Legislators and public health experts would do well to learn from the 100 Years War Against Inhaling Nicotine.  They should act quickly to do more than just ban e cigarettes in public spaces.  They should ban them everywhere and prevent the toxic effects in the home on families and pets. History has shown us that this is one battle against drugs where we can really make a difference.

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