Tag Archives: Green living

Going green is essential in modern lifestyle in order for healthy life and to save the environment. Here are stories of solar energy and other lifestyle hacks to live an environment friendly life.

How to celebrate Eco-friendly Holi

In an ideal world, the joyous festival of Holi is meant to celebrate the arrival of Spring while the colours used in Holi are to reflect of the various hues of spring season. But unfortunately, in modern times Holi does not stand for all things beautiful. Like various other festivals, Holi too has become ruthlessly commercialized, boisterous and yet another source of environmental degradation and health problem. Hence many consumers are on the look out for Holi Colours made from natural materials and safe for health and environment.

Toxic Elements/Chemical in Holi Colours

According to many research and previous studies related to Holi colour products, the pastes contain very toxic chemicals/elements that can have severe health effects.You can also get tested your holi colour products at NRCLPI ( National Referral Centre for Lead Projects in India) , St John’s Medical College, Kormanagala , Bengaluru.

Few examples of colour and the chemical content with their few health effects on human and environment:

Eco-friendly Holi COlours
Table 1: Holi Colours and their chemical content

Harmful Chemicals in Gulal & Harms of Wet Holi Colours
The dry colours, commonly known as gulals, have two components a colorant that is toxic and a base which could be either asbestos or silica, both of which cause health problems. Heavy metals contained in the colorants can cause asthma, skin diseases and adversely affect the eyes.

Wet colours, mostly use Gentian violet as a colour concentrate which can cause skin discoloration and dermatitis.

These days, Holi colours sell loose, in the market and traders are also unaware about the source of the holi colour products as it comes from a group of networked people/sellers exchanging hand to hand from different parts of the country. In few instants, the colours come wrapped that specifically say for industrial purpose/use or without any origin/manufacture details.

Make your own Eco-friendly Holi colours

Holi festival lovers will be thrilled to know that it is possible to make simple, natural colours in one’s own home. Here are some very simple recipes to make natural colours:

eco-friendly holi colour
Table:2 Ingredients to prepare eco-friendly holi colours

Safeguarding Water

Just on 22 March we all observed World Water Day, across the Globe. In the current scenario, when India and the rest of the world is facing acute water shortage, the water wastage in the name of Holi in the extreme, is also being unjusticable. It is usual or general using buckets of water during Holi but please keep in mind that you are not only wasting water resource, but also polluting it with harmful and toxic chemicals. If a single person uses 2 liter of water on Holi on splashing/playing just imagine the number of liters of water used across India with a billion+ population .

So, make sure we don’t waste and pollute water, which is most needed for our coming generations too.

Tips to celebrate a safe Holi

  • Use homemade natural and safe colours-Learn the art of preparing the colours yourself and enjoy teaching your younger’s and your neighbors too.
  • Use natural, skin-friendly and herbal colours are the ones made by reputed companies using natural products.
  • If you opt to buy/purchase colours, commercially be sure to purchase naturally made products from reputed companies also ensure about the source.
  • Apply a nice layer of oil to your hair before playing Holi so that residue from the dyes does not get stuck to your hair and scalp.
  • Ensure that your eyes remain protected at all times. Wash with plenty of clean water should any colour get into your eyes accidentally. See a doctor if the irritation still persists.
  • If you are playing Holi, apply a thick layer of coconut or any oil on your body and hair until they glisten and you become slippery.
  • Wear dental caps if possible to protect your teeth.
  • Avoid flashing on the face and as well protect your face from the Holi colours.
  • Wear clothes at the maximum to cover your body.
  • Apply an oil/cream of good quality to protect your skin.

Traditional Background

The Holi is an ancient Indian festival of colours symbolizing signs of happiness, joy and growth engaging all ages of people. The celebrations in India cut across section and religious conviction. This festival, now also draws a world attention and many countries are also celebrating the festival of colours and enjoying with sharing of sweets.., love.., peace and brotherly hood.

Holi is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar. Holi festival may be celebrated known by different names among people of various states and would be following different rituals & traditions. But, what makes Holi so unique and special is the spirit and enthusiasm of it which remains the same throughout the country and even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.

This festival celebrates the arrival of spring on Fagun Sud Purnima. Also known as Falgunika, people celebrate the changing season and the beauty associated with spring blossoms by spraying colour.

In the Gita (10/35), Shri Krishna proclaims spring as the foremost season and one of his Vibhutis -forms: Rutunaam kusumaakaraha

The ritual of offering roasted grain to Agni – fire-deity is known as Navaanineshti. In Sanskrit, roasted grain is Holaakaa, from which the Hindi ‘Holi’ is derived. Since Vedic times people availed the newly harvested grain only after offering to the devas. This offering of new grain is Holi.

The Bhavishyottara Puran associates Holi both with man and Yagna. Therefore the Yagna performed for man’s salvation is Holi.

About the Author:  
vinay kumarVinay Kumar. C is an Environmental Researcher at NRCLPI – The National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India. He is a multi-skilled professional having an excellent track record of managing complex functional projects in various environments.  

 DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Dr bindeshwar pathak: fulfilling the dream of Gandhi

“My name is Usha Chaumar, I am from Alwar, Rajasthan………….” Usha speaks confidently in English to a jam packed audience at Constitution Club, Delhi, on World Toilet Day. This is a transformed Usha! A decade back she used to clean septic tank from a very young age.  Belonging to the scavenger community,things were no different when she was married off at the age of 10…………. until she met Baba in 2003. Baba had adopted Alwar to help the scavengers restore their dignity and human values. One day Baba asked Usha if she would like to take up a better job, ‘who doesn’t like to get a better job opportunity’ she says. She was not only brought out of the de humanising activity of scavenging, but she was also taught skills for livelihood like beautician training, making noodles, pickles etc. Along with her many other scavenger women were also emancipated from their misery. She says she did not know how to speak politely. Whatever she is today is because of Baba.

The Baba who saved Usha’s life is Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, the Founder of Sulabh International, who takes forward the dream of Gandhiji to uplift the Scavenger community to the mainstream of the society. Dr Bindeshwar created a two-pit, maintenance free, toilet which  which can be easily customised and set up in any geographical environment. His innovation liberates the Scavengers and changed their life forever. The work of a human scavenger is to remove human waste, using a brush, into a bamboo basket and carry it  on the head to be thrown at a secluded place.  Dr Pathak’s toilets meant that the toilets no longer required to be maintained, leaving  the Scavengers free to take up other occupations.

Dr Pathak was born in a Brahmin family in Bihar. When he was 14 his  family’s fortune incurred huge financial loss after his uncle was murdered. As a young English Graduate he tried many jobs. His destiny to help scavengers was set when he participated in Gandhi Centenary Celebration where he was assigned the task to find a solution for open defecation and to find an alternative to end human scavenging. He went and stayed with the scavenger community to get a first hand knowledge of their life. There he saw a young bride cry because she was asked to clean her in-laws toilet and he saw a scavenger boy die on the road because no one came forward to help him. Dr Pathak created the toilet because he wanted to free the scavenger from their misery. His invention is now a world recognized model.

two pit pour flush ecological compost toilet designed by Dr Bindeshwar Pathak
two pit pour flush ecological compost toilet designed by Dr Bindeshwar Pathak

Initially Dr Pathak tried for a long to promote his creation to Government organisations, but no one was ready to give him a n opportunity. Finally a Municipal Officer gave him an opportunity to build two public toilets for Rs 500. And as the toilets became popular, people starting paying to use public toilets.  The usefulness of Sulabh toilets spread far and wide and outside India. Now Dr Pathak is the Founder of Sulabh International which has over 50,000 associates working with him.

To date Sulabh International has built 1.3 billion toilets, liberating more than 1,20,000 scavengers from scavenging. The scavenger have been rehabilitated. 640 towns have been made scavenging free till date. When Dr Pathak was told that steps should be taken to maintain the toilets because after one year many toilets become unusable, Dr Pathak replied that if people treat the toilets as their own child and keep them clean and hygiene, then no one else has to take care of the maintenance. The success of his model created a huge behavioural change when people started paying for the use of public toilets. Then, it brought in a cultural shift too when people started socially accepting those who once were meant for carrying the human waste. In places like Alwar the scavenging community has been rehabilitated and the upper class invite them to their homes. Usha says that during her scavenging days no one offered her water and even if someone did, they gave the water from a distance.

Dr Bindeshwar Pathak’s work is popular among the scavengers and the poor. His work has been recognized by the UN, which uses his two-pit toilet as a model for building toilets globally. Recently the BBC Horizons has declared the Sulabh technologies as one of five unique inventions of the world.

Dr Pathak is known for the high level of professionalism in achieving his targets. He has a systematic way of surveying the place,estimating the cost and building the toilets. According to Dr Pathak an estimated Rs 25000 to Rs 30000 is required to built a toilet. Due to the high quality of work, Corporates are willing to fulfill their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) by associating with Dr Pathak.

There are two types of people in the world, the one who use toilets and one who are deprived of using toilets. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak is a Messiah of the one who do not have toilets. Imagine a situation when you do not have a toilet in your house, and you have to defecat in the open. In such a situation you will have to wake up either before day break or wait for sunset so as to answer the call of nature.  In such a situation you will be unable to concentrate on you work and because of stopping yourself from defecating will cause many health diseases. 100 million Indians defecate in the open leaving them behind in the strive for development.  They defecate in the open leading to many social, health and environmental issue.

Says Amritya Sen in an interview to the Guardian, “Half of all Indians have no toilet. In Delhi when you build a new condominium there are lots of planning requirements but none relating to the servants having toilets. It’s a combination of class, caste and gender discrimination. It’s absolutely shocking. Poor people have to use their ingenuity and for women that can mean only being able to relieve themselves after dark with all the safety issues that entails,”

Dr Bindeshwar Pathak is a strong advocate of one the biggest issues that Gandhiji was fighting for. He continues work to accomplish the dream of Gandhi. The two pit toilet has created a social revolution with the twin benefit of the people getting a toilet to defecate and the human scavengers being liberated  of their penury.  In addition Dr Pathak also provides shelters for the widows of Varanasi.  Sulabh International celebrates important festivals like Diwali, Holi and Christmas, giving the widows a news sense of being. There are a number of works of Dr Pathak that benefits the entire humanity. He has perfected the Biogass system, by which the gas emitted from the human waste is a alternative source of energy which is used to generate heat, electricity and cooking gas.  The water discharge from the waste is treated and can be used as fertilizer or discharged into the river.

The erstwhile women scavengers (untouchables) walked the ramp with the models who showcased their handiwork at the United Nations in New York
The erstwhile women scavengers  (untouchables) walked the ramp with the models who showcased their handiwork at the United Nations in New York

Award and Achievements of Dr Bindeshwar Pathak

  • In 1991, Dr. Pathak was awarded Padma Bhushan
  • Conferred St. Francis Prize Canticle of All Creatures in Assissi, Italy.
  • Stockholm Water Prize by Stockholm International Water Institute at Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Selected among 50 global personalities, including The US President, Barack Obama, “who have used their position in public life to make an impact on diversity”.
  • BBC Horizons declared the Sulabh technologies as one of five unique inventions of the world.
  • 1.3 million housing toilet built so far.
  • More than 1,20,000 scavengers have been liberated from scavenging.
  • 8000 public toilets in 25 states and 4 Union Territories in 1599 towns and cities which are used by 15 million people daily. 
  • In Kabul, Sulabh is maintaining five public toilets with biogas plants, which are quite popular with the local people, and Sulabh’s inventions, innovations and experiments have been accepted in China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and many countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
  • Entering a temple – a dream fulfilled on December, 21, 2008 of scavengers (untouchables) whose entrywas banned for centuries due to the practice of untouchability. 
  • 2003, adopted two towns of Rajasthan, Alwar and Tonk, for restoring the human
    rights and dignity of the local untouchables. Now the two towns are free from the
    problem of untouchability. There is no social discrimination, as Brahmins and other
    upper castes now freely mix and share food and hospitality with the ex-untouchables
    who have acquired skills in various trades, and are engaged in gainful employment. They
    have started a new life and are now part of the social mainstream.
  • Set up Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi, the first of its kind
    in the world. The museum, through replicas of various toilets, artefacts, pictures, posters
    and other materials, tells the story of the development of toilets through the ages.

How to become a part of the world toilet day

One out of seven people in the world defecate in the open. 2.4 million people in the world do not have access to a toilet. Some of you might have vague memories of make-shift toilets in your villages. In this age when we have state-of-the-art toilets in our homes, it is very difficult to imagine that there are people in the world who have to wait for sunset so that they can answer the call off nature.  Lack of toilets cause lot of problem especially for women. Women have to travel outside their house, in the open areas, putting their life and dignity at stake. According to studies there is enough water in the world for the entire population, but there is lack of proper distribution of water. If toilets are built for every house and water is available, then many of their health diseases can be reduces and the quality of human life will improve globally.

For those who have grown up in houses with toilets, while building a house, they spent a fortune to make the toilets the most presentable area in the house. So why is there a divide in the world between those who are aware of the essentiality of toilets and the other who are unaware or do not understand the need of toilets.

Recently there was a story of a woman in Indonesia, who went to stay in her village after spending few years in city. She felt she was spending most of her time looking for space to answer the call of nature for her and her daughter. So she took a loan and built a toilet. Now she has a hygienic  surrounding and she has plenty of time to pursue a job to earn some income.

It is the lack of urgency, the lack of awareness and the lack of priority that is denying toilet to a large number of population in the world.

Lack of priority

The day a girl child is born in India the father becomes responsible parent and he starts saving so that the girl can be married off in a decent manner. In most communities even now people are respected for the amount of dowry(gift) that they give their child. If the society gives respect for a person only if there is a decent toilet in his home, then maybe people will include building toilet a top priority. Once in my home town a proposed bride’s family visited the bride grooms house to fix the marriage. Some of the women wanted to get fresh, so they asked for the toilet. They found that toilet was only make-shift and they cancelled the marriage.

Lack of awareness

Defecating in the open causes many health hazards and deprives nutrition in the body. When the people do not answer the call of nature and wait for darkness many diseases occur. Defecating in the open leads to worm infection and other diseases, including diarrhea.  Due to frequent Diarrhea the body cannot absorb nutrition properly. Toilet is the basic necessity of life, lack of which lead to diverse hazards in  health, social well-being, hygienes and environment.

Lack of Urgency

In a comedy show, a man had Rs 30,000 in hand, and he decided to buy a smartphone. The same amount is required to build a toilet in house. But he was waiting for the Government loan to get sanctioned. Toilets can wait that is what most people think.

We Can’t Wait

‘We can’t wait’ is the motto of this year’s World Toilet Day. Due to illiteracy, lack of funds, Poverty, lack of technical support or lack of awareness, many people in the world are deprived of  a basic human requirement.

What is your contribution on this World Toilet Day?

In India Rs 30,000 is required to built a toilet for a family. Organizations like the Sulabh International provided thousands of toilets for people around the world. What is you contribution? Please tweet at #WeCantWait.

 

handheld x-ray fluorescence xrf analyzer for lead testing

Now that we discussed about the sources of lead, you might wonder if it is possible to detect the presence of lead in our homes. Lab analyses are expensive and time-consuming. However the handheld x-ray fluorescence (xrf) analyzer is the best substitute because we can take the instrument to the product, for instance for testing the soil. This battery operated, handheld x-ray fluorescence xrf analyzer is useful in detecting not only lead but also chlorine, cadmium, mercury, chromium, etc.

Uses of handheld x-ray fluorescence XRF analyzer

Presently handheld x-ray fluorescence xrf analyzer is used in western countries mainly by the manufacturers, sellers and importers to ensure complete safety of the product from hazardous substances. The manufacturers use handheld x-ray fluorescence (xrf) analyzer to detect toxins at three stages:

  • examining the raw materials before manufacturing
  • analyzing if the toxic elements are within permissible limits during the manufacturing process
  • verifying that the finished products comply with the specification of the the consumer safety guidelines.

Soil testing Vs Lead-leaching crops

Studies also indicate lead levels in people’s blood correspond directly to the amount of lead in the soil where they live. There can be many reason for the amount of lead in the soil to be more than that occurs naturally. Industrial activities, pesticide use, lead paint and lead batteries are some of the reasons for high level of lead in soil. When lead-leaching crops are cultivated is highly toxic soil they will be contaminated. Some of the common source of lead is through Lead-leaching crops including herbs, leafy greens and root vegetables such as potatoes, radishes and carrots.  Handheld x-ray fluorescence (xrf) analyzer, are being used to detect the level of lead in the soil. Anyone who cultivates vegetables be it  kitchen garden, farmhouse or community farms they can approach organization that conduct soil test using handheld x-ray fluorescence (xrf) analyzer. Soil amendments can be made if the soil is found to be high in lead content.

handheld x-ray fluorescence xrf analyzer

Relevance of handheld x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer in India

There is high vulnerability to lead exposure as lead is found in many of the commonly used items, Batteries, Crayons, polymers, toys, paints, etc. As many homes are relatively old and small scale industries are found near to residential areas, the soil needs to be checked before cultivation is done.  Handheld x-ray fluorescence (xrf) analyzer can be used to screen a wide rand of products, plastic, paints, toys, electrical items, etc.

Lead exposure is a matter of serious concern as there are about 600,000 new cases of children developing intellectual disabilities and around 143,000 deaths every year. Campaign against lead hazards in India has been going on for decades, successfully resulting in the introduction of unleaded petrol and the paint manufacturers specifying whether lead is present in their products. Efforts are also on to reduce lead related occupational health hazards in India. However, it was the detection of lead in maggi that spread awareness regarding lead exposure.

Handheld x-ray fluorescence (xrf) analyzers are available in India.Here is an interview with Vinay Kumar C., Environmental Researcher with National Referral Centre for Lead Projects in India (NRCLPI) to have an insight about Handheld x-ray fluorescence (xrf) analyzers available in India.

Is handheld x-ray fluorescence (xrf) analyzer available only with NRCLPI, if not, where else are the instruments available?

No, the instrument is available in various primer research institutes and industries .

Can anyone buy the instrument or you need some kind of authorization?

Based on requirement by an industry/research institute it shall be supplied.

I think the same instrument is used to testing gold, can consumer go to some gold shop and get the lead test done?

Yes for large scale import & export XRF detection has been used. Generally Jewelers may also use electronic gold testers to figure out the quality of a piece of gold. Using a specific liquid or gel, they first create a circuit between the device’s probe and the gold.

Is this instrument user-friendly? Can this be operated by ordinary consumers?

Yes, the user is 100% user friendly and can be operated easily as it doesn’t require any reagents/chemicals/frequent software up gradation.But since it emits high frequency x-ray radiation which is harmful to health, it requires trained and knowledgeable person to use it in a safe mode without harming himself as well others.

Is this machine available for sale in India?

Yes, equipment is available in India and their various models of XRF, few are imported. 

How does a Handheld x-ray fluorescence xrf analyzers work

In a x-ray fluorescence (XRF), the electrons are displaced from their atomic orbital positions, whereby releasing energy which has the characteristic of the elements like lead, cadmium, etc. The XRF instrument detects and registers the release of energy.  The energy released helps in categorizing the element. Here is the analysis of the working of machine in detail:

The analyzer triggers X-ray beam with enough energy to affect the electrons in the inner shells of the atoms. The x-ray beam is then discharged from the front of the handheld XRF analyzer. The x-ray beam comes in contact  with the atoms in the sample by moving the electrons out of place from the inner orbital shells of the atom. This movement occurs as a result of the difference in energy between the x-ray beam emitted and the binding energy that holds electrons in their proper orbits; the displacement happens when the x-ray beam energy is higher than the binding energy of the electrons with which it interacts. Electrons have fixed positon at specific energies in an atom. In each element spacing between the orbital shells of an atom is unique to the atoms, so an atom of potassium (K) differs from the spacing between an atom of gold (Au), or silver (Ag), etc.

When electrons are displaced of their orbit, they leave behind vacant space, destabilising the atom. In order to correct, the instability created by the vacancies that the displaced electrons left behind, the atoms from higher orbits move down to a lower orbit where a vacancy exits. For instance, if an electron is shifted from the innermost shell of the atom, an electron from the upper shell can move down to fill the vacancy. This is fluorescence.

As electrons have higher binding energies the further they are away from the nucleus of the atom, an electron loses some energy when it drops from a higher electron shell to an electron shell closer to the nucleus. The amount of energy lost is equivalent to the difference in energy between the two electron shells, which is determined by the distance between them. The distance between the two orbital shells is unique to each element, as mentioned above. The energy lost helps in identifying the element from which it emanates, as the amount of energy lost in the fluorescence process is unique to each element. The individual fluorescent energies detected depends upon the elements that are present in the sample. In order to verify the amount of each element present, the proportion in which the individual energies appear can be calculated by the instrument.

Revolution Movie 2012: A must watch movie for all age groups

 

I post this article, a day after Environment Day. As long as I convey the message across to the readers, I don’t mind  if I am a bit ‘slow’ at getting the work done. My idea about ‘setting targets’ and ‘racing against time’ to achieve the goal, received some rethinking after watching Rob Stewart’s Movie ‘Revolution‘. We are part of an ecology that evolves slowly. Are we achieving or losing by ‘running against time’ to achieve our goals? We are a minuscule in the ecological system of the world, so do we need to rethink about how we live our life so that we don’t march towards the destruction of the mankind and the other species on Earth.
 Revolution Movie 2012 sheds light on the environment issues that need to be immediately addressed to save man and the earth from extinction. Rob Stewart, the creator of the movie, made the famous film  ‘Sharkwater’ where he travels underwater to find out more about Sharks so as to save them from extinction.  The film was a huge success and in addition to earning many International Awards, it created a worldwide awareness to save Sharks.
In Revolution, Stewart travels around the world to understand the various environment issues disturbing the ecology and expediting the extinction of many species.  Using brilliant photography and storytelling techniques he explains how the earth is moving fast towards a catastrophe. He explains the factors that are leading towards the next mass extinction of species from the earth – Deforestation, Climate Change, Over Fishing and Ocean Acidification.

Of all the topics pointing towards mass destruction of the species on earth – global warming, deforestation, carbon foot prints – I felt Ocean Acidifcation was the scariest. Acid is a scary term, which is destructive and corrosive in nature. Acid eats and destroys the things they come in contact with. Ocean is acidified when manmade chemicals mix with water leading to the destruction of the coral reefs which is home to million of underwater species. What we need to realize is that we are a small part of a big whole that consist not just the life on land but also underwater. If the underwater beings are deprived of their food, and their homes become inhabitable, they will extinct whereby disturbing the ecosystem.

Revolution is a must watch movie to understand our responsibility to nature. Anyone who watches the movie gets influenced by the arguments made for the urgent actions required to  protect Man and the other species on Earth. The environment experts in the movie say, there were atleast seven mass extinctions in the history of Earth which some species like the Sharks and Cuttle fish have withstood. If we do  not wake up and take proper action, a bigger extinction will happen within a few decades.[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”2″ gal_title=”Still from Revolution Movie 2012″]

At a conference, in the movie many, environment activists including school students, desperately try to grab the attention of Corporate and Political leaders. Their protest indicates the beginning of a new kind of revolution that is growing worldwide by those who want to save the world from the ambitions and greed of man, to progress at the cost of destroying the earth.

Revolution is a movie to be watched by all age groups. The children, who are the guardian of the earth tomorrow, also have a crucial role to play.  Mankind has to design a world where their progress and activities do not disturb the ecosystem.

What Ratan Tata, the former chairman of Tata Group, famously said is very relevant in this movie “If you want to Walk Fast, Walk Alone. But if u want to Walk Far, Walk Together.

Fasting: A powerful therapy in healing chronic diseases

On Good Friday a 38 year old, obese, friend decided to fast by skipping breakfast and lunch. She ended up for the next 5 days in Intensive Care Unit of a hospital suspecting cardiac arrest. She vouched never to fast again. This was a unique experience for me as usually after religious fasts – fasting, prayer and denial of certain food – people say they feel better physically, mentally and spiritually. So I began the research to ascertain whether fasting is good or bad for health.

I discovered that fasting is not just a religious custom but the most ancient and cheapest form of treating diseases. Fasting Therapy is widely being accepted to drastically improve chronic and debilitating illness like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and diabetes. “Fasting is a simple, elegant therapy that has amazing medical benefits. It effectively treated high blood pressure, overcame Type II diabetes, consistently produced dramatic improvements in autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, and provided effective relief for asthma attacks and migraine headaches.” says Michael Klaper, M.D. a gifted clinician, internationally recognized teacher, and sought-after speaker on diet and health.

fastomg

The cause of most of the diseases is the accumulation of excess and poisonous substance in the body. People, especially in the cities follow a sedentary lifestyle and consume excess food resulting in overburdening the digestive system. By staying away from food for a few days the elimination system in the body removes the poisonous substances accumulated inside. Read this post to find out knee replacement can be avoided by ayurveda.

Fasting sounds like an easy home remedy, because most people skip breakfast as part of dieting. Fasting however should be taken only for a certain duration of time, under professional guidance. Fasting for a prolonged period can be dangerous, so before fasting you must know the benefits and procedure of fasting. And also you must know when to fast, how to break the fast and when not to.

Only a well-experienced doctor, who uses fasting therapy as a treatment, can provide answer to the queries. So I had an interview with Dr. Matthew Brennecke, MS, ND, a board certified naturopathic doctor, in Colorado, who prefers fasting therapy  to pharmaceutical medication for his patients. Here is the interview with the doctor :

Only a well-experienced doctor, who uses fasting therapy as a treatment, can provide answer to the queries. So I had an interview with Dr. Matthew Brennecke, MS, ND, a board certified naturopathic doctor, in Colorado, who prefers fasting therapy  to pharmaceutical medication for his patients. Here is the interview with the doctor :

What are the benefits of fasting?

There are a lot of benefits to fasting. It gives the vital organs complete rest.  It stops the intake of foods that decompose in the intestines and poison the body.  It empties the digestive tract and disposes of putrefactive bacteria. It gives organs of elimination an opportunity to catch up with their work and further promote elimination. It re-establishes normal physiological chemistry and normal secretions. It promotes the break down and absorption of exudates, deposits, effusions, diseased tissue, and abnormal growths. It permits the conservation of energy. It clears and strengthens the mind. It improves function throughout the body. It can restore a youthful condition of the cells and tissue, which rejuvenates the body.

Does it cure any disease?

But it doesn’t cure anything.    Curing is possible,but it takes work and you can start by exercising and putting the right foods in your mouth.

Does fasting mean abstaining from food for a certain time?

Not only is there quite a bit of confusion regarding fasting, but there are also many fasts to choose from.  Are you going to water fast, juice fast, do a master cleanse, etc.?  Which one is right for you?  This usually depends on the disease we may be using it for.  Oftentimes, we choose fasting as options to decrease symptoms experienced by the patient when it comsto IBS, arthritis, thrombophlebitis, or skin afflictions.  But, we have to be careful to avoid starvation, in which vital organs can be broken down for proteins, unmonitoredketosis, which results from the breakdown of fat, or electrolyte imbalances,which can cause a whole host of issues.   If we want an opportunity to cure any of our chronic disease, we needto start making the right choices when it comes to diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices.

What are the procedures to begin and break the fast? 

(I’m a little uncomfortable answering this procedure question because if it is printed, it might encourage people to start a fast on their own without consulting a doctor beforehand).  I can say that when breaking a fast, do it slowly.  It usually takes about 4 days to get back to eating normally.  Usually starts with vegetables, then adding in fruit, then small portions of regular meals, then can start eating normally on fourth day.  The longer you fast, the longer it takes to break the fast.  This is where the doctor needs to be on-board.  These 4 days of breaking the fast is some of the hardest and vital parts of the fast as it is slowly introducing food back in the system. The most important thing is to no overeat when the fast is over.
Can a person undergoing medication take a fast?
This depends on the medication.  Most medications will be fine to fast with, but there are instances where taking medication while fasting is very dangerous and could be deadly.  For instance, taking insulin for diabetes while fasting could result in hypoglycemia, which can cause dizziness, unconsciousness, or even death.  I have to emphasize that seeing a doctor before starting a fast is vitally important.
How much awareness do general public have about fasting therapy?
Not much awareness at all.  Most people don’t fast or even understand why someone would fast, but they also don’t realize the benefits that can be had from fasting. Fasting is an underutilized therapy that has the ability to help the patient feel better in the long run.  But, then again, fasting also puts stress on the body in not having easily accessible nutrients flowing through the gut at all times.
Do people come to you asking for fasting therapy or you recommend it?
Both.  Most of the time I recommend it because it has the ability to help the patient out.  But, I always do a physical exam, run blood labs, and take into account the patient’s general constitution before I make the suggestion.  If the patient is emaciated, I don’t recommend fasting.  If the patient has any extreme weakness or degeneration, I don’t recommend fasting.  If the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, I don’t recommend fasting.  If the patient is low count in basic blood labs, I don’t recommend fasting.  If the patient is elderly or pregnant or a child, I don’t recommend fasting.  If the patient has problems with their nervous system or heart disease or difficulty breathing, I don’t recommend fasting.
Can an obese person of 40 yr, who has never fasted, successfully undergo fasting therapy?
Yes, but as stated above, the proper blood labs and physical exam must be done beforehand to determine whether this person is a candidate for fasting therapy.  There are many instances where middle-aged obese people have great success in fasting and reap some incredible benefits.  They can lose a significant amount of weight within days of starting a fast.  But, it does take the patient’s dedication to endure the fast.  Fasting can be extremely difficult for people, especially the first few days.  You oftentimes feel like you’re starving, get dizzy, have low energy, get headaches, but those feeling do pass most of the time by the third day.
About the Doctor
Dr MathreDr. Matthew Brennecke, MS, ND is a board certified naturopathic doctor practicing at the Rocky Mountain Wellness Clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado.  He prefers using natural therapies to pharmaceutical medication when possible, so as to limit side effects to treatment and sees a variety of patients with a range of chronic conditions.  He can be reached at Twitter@RockyDocFOCO or on Rockymountaindoc@yahoo.com
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Solar Power: A wonderful boon

The survival of life, human culture and the very existence of our planet Earth largely depend on developing and using renewable and nonconventional sources of energy. The first source of such a form of energy that comes to people in their right minds is solar energy. There are a wide variety of reasons why solar power is most beneficial to humankind. The Sun’s light and heat make life possible on the Earth. As such, energy from the Sun is the only source of every other form of energy including nuclear power. Read about a Weird Museum which has a rare collection of toilets included solar powered commodes.

solar power

Solar energy is green energy. It is virtually free from pollution. The use of solar power does not result in the emission of gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide which are deleterious to humans and other living beings in several ways. Moreover, solar power causes no noise pollution since solar panels and other devices have no moving components.

Solar energy is perennial albeit variations. On cloudy and winter days solar energy is a less efficient form of power. However, the emergence of photo voltaic technology means that we are not solely dependent on heat from the Sun. Even on cloudy and winter days we get light from the Sun. Photo voltaic technology is capable of converting solar radiation into electricity.

Solar power is useful in operating several devices such as heaters, cookers, lamps and calculators. Manufacturers of mobile phones, laptop computers and other gadgets are exploring how solar energy can be used for the functioning of these tools.

Using solar energy for cooking is advantageous. Depending on firewood will result in the destruction of forests, food chain and biodiversity. Besides, the development of technology to improve the quality of wood means that we can use rubber trees and pine trees as good sources for the construction of buildings and the manufacture of furniture.

The successful use of solar energy for street lighting in several parts of Africa deserves attention. This is possible by the use of solar batteries. By using solar batteries we are able to enjoy the benefit of solar technology at night. Even though these batteries are heavy and need to be replaced at present; scientists are working for the development of better battery technology.

The use of solar energy gives people energy independence. Setting up of solar panels on rooftops of houses and offices will make people energy independent. Putting solar panels on rooftops is expensive. Nevertheless, thanks to constant efforts to improve solar devices, it is coming down considerably. After establishing solar devices; people do not have to bother about paying electricity bills. In addition, solar technology needs little or no maintenance. Solar panels will continue to supply electricity for thirty plus years. Undoubtedly, the technology will become better in the days to come.

Solar power is capable of serving energy needs of people living in remote areas. People in several parts of the world have no access to power grids. The need not to depend on power cables is a major advantage of solar energy.

In today’s world, we are dependent on fossil fuels for our energy needs. These sources are dwindling rapidly. We are unable to get energy from these conventional sources of energy for another century. A conscious consideration of this reality will make us come to the right conclusion that solar power is the most dependable source of energy for the sustenance of our planet and life on it in the days and years to come.

About the Author:  
swami  sirSwaminathan Pillai is A senior academic and Journalist with specialties in history, politics, current affairs, health, disability and social issues. Well developed multi-media skills & experience in Broadcast Journalism. He is congenitally blind who with his wealth of knowledge has enlightened many.

 DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

A visit to one of the weirdest museums in the world: the Toilet Museum

Toilet Museum

When I asked someone about a shop, he said it was near the Sulabh Shauchalaya (Sulabh Toilet). That was a weird landmark, I thought, until spotting Sulabh International situated on a sprawling green landscape which does a number of commendable work in the field of sanitation. So I decided to visit the world famous and the most exciting of the Sulabh institutions – the Sulabh International Toilet Museum.

Inside Toilet Museum

The initial inhibition I had about talking on the subject of toilet and defecation was removed when Shikha, the guide at the Museum, explained the various types of commodes used different ages of history.  “Urination ought to be done at least at a distance of 10 cubits from the source of water. Defecation to be done at a distance of 100 cubits from the source of water.” read the Aryan Code of Toilets, displayed at the museum. Read this post to know now solar power plant drastically reduced the electricity bill of a hospital

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Weird exhibits

The Toilet Museum is unique and has been rated as the third
most weirdest museum in the world. There is an interesting collection of toilets and commodes from around the world. The mobile commodes used by the Englishmen during hunting camps and the throne like commode used by King Louis XIV of France. The museum also has charts and pictures about the the sanitation systems beginning from the Harappan civilization to the space age. A picture shows how bad sanitation system caused the black death in the 14th Century.

Toilet Museum

Works at Sulabh International

Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of Sulabh International, developed eco-friendly two-pit, pour-flush compost toilet technology, Sulabh Shauchalaya, for the individual households as an alternative to the comparatively expensive septic tank based systems. This Toilet technology has been recommended as a Global Best Practice by UN bodies for about three billion people across the globe. The advantage of the toilet system is its affordability and adaptability. According to the availability of material in the region the toilet is altered. One interesting toilet was for those who were used to defecate in the open. The toilet was roofless and with spiraling steps leading to the toilet, so that they can defecate without closing the doors.

Total usage of waste

Nothing went waste at Sulabh. The defecated were dried and used as manure. The urine and waste water was recycled to produced that was used for all purpose other than drinking. The garden lights is run on Bio-electricity and cooking is done with Bio-gas.

There was so much to learn from the trip apart from seeing some of the weirdest commodes in the world. Toilets and sanitation is an essential aspects of the lifestyle of a city. We need to talk about sanitation and hygiene as openly as we talk about health, diet and environment.

Celebrate eco friendly holi with toxic-free holi colours

holi colours

Holi means the festival of colours, so there is no use preaching to stay away from the colours. It is a well-known fact that the colours of Holi stay on for more than a day, which means some of the colours are getting absorbed into the body. Hence opt for eco friendly Holi colours. Read this post to find out the benefits of vertical farming.

We see a large number of Holi colours in the market which may be toxic in nature, but we are unable to verify if the colours are toxic. So the best option is to buy branded, packed colours like Rangeela that mentions toxic-free colours on the packing.  However, we tend to buy the unbranded colours because they are cheaper and brighter in colours

As the saying goes, ‘look can be deceptive’ – the brighter the colour, the greater the chances of presence of Lead which is a toxic element. There is a number of toxic element that is added to make the colours darker. 

TOXIC ELEMENTS USED IN COLOURS AND HEALTH HAZARDS

“Green colour is obtained from copper sulphate -which may cause allergies in the eye or even temporary blindness.

Purple is obtained from chromium iodide – which may cause bronchial asthma or other forms of allergy.

Silver is obtained from aluminium bromide – a known carcinogenic.

Black is obtained from lead oxide – may cause renal failures or learning disability.

Red is obtained from mercury sulphite – may cause skin cancer or Minamata disease (mental retardation, paralysis, impaired vision…)

Shiny Colours are a result of powdered glass being added to the colours.” – holifestival.org

Not only are the colours harmful to human skins, but also the environment. When the colours go down the drain, the toxic elements mix with the soil, the river and the air polluting the environment, endangering the flora and fauna, and adding toxic content in the vegetables.

Get the colours tested 

If you are unsure of the toxicity of the colours and still want to buy them, test the product in some reputed institutions. One such institution that conducts toxicity tests for colours is NRCLPI (National Referral Centre for Lead Projects in India) in Banglore. “You can courier the sample,” says Mr. Vinay Kumar of NRCLPI. The test will ensure the eco-friendliness of the Holi colour powders.

Holi colours - NRCLPI

 How to prepare Holi colours at home 

Always homemade eco friendly holi colours are the best choices to stay from any kind of malpractices and health hazards. Traditionally many families prepare organic colours at home using kitchen ingredients, leaves, tree barks and flowers that are available around the house. Not only are the raw materials eco-friendly, they have many health benefits too.

  • The yellow colour is naturally available in turmeric to which you can add gramflour to increase the volume.  You can also dry and powder chrysanthemums for the yellow hue.
  • Dried and powdered Henna, Palak and leaves of Gulmohar can give green colour.
  • Rose petals, red hibiscus flower, kumkum can be dried and powdered to get a red colour. Also, redcolour can be obtained from grated and boiled beetroot.
  • Buy dried flowers from the market, soak them overnight to get a saffron colour.
  • The brown colour is found in tea leaves.

Nowadays herbal colours made from extracts of flowers, tree barks and leaves are available in the market. As they do not cause health hazard they are in high demand. Sometimes the herbal holi colours are also scented using essential oils like lemongrass and orange.

Solar Power Plant to reduce a hospitals Electricity Bill

In a first of it’s kind, a missionary hospital in Delhi will generate 30% of the electricity with solar energy, saving Rs 3-5 lakh on monthly energy bill. The effort of the hospital management and staff has been appreciated by the Green peace. Mr.Sunny George , of the hospital, shares with lifestyletodaynews the story of the installation of solar power plant  and how other institutions can follow the example for a Cleaner, Greener and Sustainable Environment:

Why did the institution decide for an alternative source of energy?

The rising cost of energy was a big concern to a charitable organization like Holy Family Hospital. It’s been great to see a lot of technological makeover, in recent times which has cut down the cost of manufacturing of the solar panels. Thus making it more acceptable as an alternative and cost efficient means of generating power. To know more about the boon solar power read this post.

The foremost advantage of solar energy is that we can generate electricity with no emission of green houses gases. It is produced by conducting the sun’s radiation without any smoke, gas or any chemical by- product. Another added advantage is that beyond initial installation, maintenance and solar energy is low. Life expectancy of panel are 25-30 years. Due to the above, solar power is getting more and more acceptable as an alternative and cost efficient means of generating power.

How is solar power generated?

We have installed a 300 KW rooftop solar panels in our hospital roof. Electricity is directly fed into our Electrical panels in synchrozation with the grid power supplied by BSES. Our average daytime consumption is 8000 units and in peak summer it touches 10000 units. We are expecting generation of 1800 to 2000 units per day thru these panels.This is the first solar installation in a hospital in Delhi in a PPA model. On our second phase we would like to cover 50% of the total electrical load.

If excess power is generated how will it be utilized?

BSES is coming up with Net Metering. In this, we are allowed  to export the power, back to the grid and it get adjusted in the future electricity bills. Even in our future expansion in solar power,the excess or the unused power in our lean period,won’t get wasted or needed to be stored in the batteries.Avoiding the batteries for the storage in the solar PV system,it cut down the cost by 30% and help us from the harmful effects of the batteries.Batteries are made of variety of chemicals to power their reaction,which are are extremely toxic in nature and can cause damage to human and environment.

Is solar power energy a viable option for all institutions?

Solar power energy has a high capital cost,so it is not within the capacity  of most. The Hospital, instead of spending on the solar power had a agreement with a German company to provide solar energy in PPA model(Power purchase agreement), for 20 years. The company has provided with the funds and their expertise in the solar power plant.

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Solar panel

Finally, some of the readers would like to know the technical aspect, how does solar panel work?

Solar panels used are of polycrystalline modules.Silicon wafers with impurities are made to form the semi-conductor which convert the sunlight into electrical current. The array of solar modules connected electrically form the panel. To make the proper use of the terrace space , solar panels of 300 watts was used instead of 250 watt,which is more prevalent in the market.

In the grid connected solar power system,energy generated from the sunlight through the panels are fed into the solar inverters, which in turn converts the DC into AC, similar to the grid supply with three phase,415 volt and 50Hz. This is then, fed directly into the main LT panels,which consume the power drawn from the solar inverter and the left-over electricity from the grid.

About Sunny George
SunnySunny is the Engineering Head, of the Mission Hospital. Connect with him on google+