LAGOS is working. That’s the nickname of a struggling, young man named TUNDE TELLA. He was born in Mushin, a suburb of Lagos known for violence a few years ago, and buttered in peaceful highbrow Oko Oba GRA scheme I, in Agege, another suburb of Lagos.
I remembered him two Saturday’s ago when the government of Lagos State suspended the cow skin (Ponwo, in Yoruba market at the Lagos abattoir in Agege. Tella, also called Hakeem or AK, pathologically believes in Lagos State and its ruling party and government that, for him, Lagos is the Leader State in Nigeria. Among many of his friends who are still licking the wounds of the defeat of Presidents Ebele Jonathan in the Presidential elections which brought Mohammad Buhari to power, and who, because of this, see nothing good in Lagos and it Governance, AK would react to their “belly-aching” with the slogan LAGOS IS WORKING”.
So, last Saturday, I called him on the telephone to congratulate him that, indeed, Lagos is working. For me, the suspension of the cow skin market at the Lagos Abattoir was almost unbelievable. Only two Thursday’s ago, that is two days before the suspension, this column published the articles: LAGOS ABATTOIR, PURVEYOR OF DISEASE AND DEATH. The article was all about the curing of cow skin for the market in a heap of tyre bon fire which has poisoning the air and land and homes around the abattoir with carbon monoxide (CO) and such heavy metals as lead, cadmium, arsenic, zinc and Dioxin, a cancer-causing substance. This practices had persisted for many years. Many people in the area may have been made sick or ill by these poisoning without relating their problems to the air they breathed, the water they drank, or the food they ate on their dining tables on which these air-borne substances settled. Co-incidentally, the publication came about the time the Lagos Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) announced it had studied underground water, including wells, in all 20 local government areas of Lagos and found them all polluted with heavy metals.
This column first raised the question of heavy metals in underground water when it was appearing in the Guardian Newspaper in the 1980s. At that time, the newspaper Science Editor, SEUN OGUNSEITAN, who discovered in KOKO, toxic waste chemicals from Europe dumped there by a Nigerian who was paid for the job in Europe. The heavy metals were reported to be in underground water in Ijesha area of Lagos and found to be more than 3,000 times in excess of the World Health Organization (WHO) safety levels for such chemicals. Nigeria is an in–alert and inert country, where many people are yet to be knowledgeable about the interchange between the environment and their health. Even today, has the average Nigerian come to terms with the latest founding of LASEPA? What does it matter to you, in particular, that there may be heavy metals in the sachet of “pure water” or bottle water you and your family drink every day? What about the vegetables you so much like to eat which may have absorbed these metals, or the animals whose meat you eat, which may have in them these heavy metals picked up from the plants they ate before their slaughter for your kitchen and table? I trust AK to say Lagos State will deal with this in due courses. And I believe him. The move against these cow meat market is a good testimonial for believability in Lagos State. So, while we await Lagos State government action on LASEPA findings, and while we crack our brains for how to detoxify our bodies of these heavy metals I’d like to give the government another suggestion. This suggestion is in respect of pedestrian traffic in Lagos foot bridges. Ably, the government of Lagos State is blocking with iron and steel all the “foot paths” on the express ways through which pedestrians cross the express ways (jay-walking) irrespective of the overhead pedestrian foot bridges which may be directly above their heads. Now, pedestrian traffic is mushrooming on these overhead bridges. The bridges are rowdy. People walk zig-zag, bumping into one another like rat pursued either & thither by cats. I sometimes wonder if life on these foot bridges would not be better if we could all keep right”, as we drive on the roads, while walking on these foot bridges. The government may paste KEEP RIGHT signs on these bridges to change, for the better, the way we walk on them: Lagos is working, I hope to tell AK when this falls in place.
We must now quickly return to LASEPA findings and heavy metal poisoning, and to the steps we can take to protect ourselves against them.
We can learn about heavy metals in the website raredisease.org: “Heavy metals poisoning is the accumulation of heavy metals, in toxic amounts, in the soft tissues of the body”, it says, adding: “Symptom and physical findings associated with heavy metals poisoning vary according to the metals accumulated. Many of the heavy metals, such as Zinc, Copper, Chromium, Iron and manganese, are essential to body function in very small amounts. But, if these metals accumulate in the body in concentration sufficient to cause poisoning, then serious damage may occur. The heavy metals most commonly associated with poisoning of humans are Lead, Mercury, Arsenic and Cadmium. Heavy metals poisoning may occur as a result of industrial exposure, air or water pollution, food, medicines, improperly coated food containers, or the injection of Lead-based paints.”
Aluminum poisoning may also occur along with heavy metals poisoning. But aluminums is a soft metal. We pick it up from the grinders of Crayfish and Ogbono (lgbor or Apon in Yoruba) in the markets, or from the aluminum cooking pot or tea mug or spoons. Aluminum collects in the brain and damages it if the concentration is high enough. As for the signs and symptoms of heavy metals poisoning, raredisease.org says:
“The symptoms of heavy metals poisoning vary according to which type of metal over exposure is involved. Some specific examples are:
- Arsenic poisoning
- Cadmium poisoning
- Chromium poisoning
- Cobalt poisoning
- Lead poisoning
- Manganese poisoning
- Mercury poisoning
- Phosphorus poisoning
- Thallium poisoning
- Antimony poisoning
Aluminum, Barium, Bismuth, Copper, Gold, Iron, Lithium, Platinum, Silver, Tin and Zinc poisoning. Over exposure to Arsenic may cause “headaches, drowsiness, confusion, seizures and life-threatening complications.” It may also cause such neurological hazards as brain damage, nerve disease of the extremities, pericapillary hemorrhages within the white matter, and loss or deficiency of the fatty coverings around these nerve fibers.”
There may also be skin problems such as “transverse white bands on the finger nails and excessive accumulation of fluid in the soft layers of tissue below the skin” in the intestines, a “flu-like illness” may occur. This may cause “vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and diarrhea which in some cases may be bloody.” There may also be a “breakdown of the hemoglobin of red blood cells, a low level of iron in the red blood cells and low blood pressure (hypotension).” The website adds that ‘some individuals may experience a Garlic-like odour that may be detectable on the breath.’
“Where the poisoning is chronic, weakness, muscle ache, chills and fever may develop.” A poisoned person may experience skin and nail symptoms which may include “hardened patches of skin, with unusually deep creases on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, unusual darkening of certain area of the skin, transverse white bands on the fingernails and a scale-like inflammation of the skin.” Other symptoms may include “inflammation of sensory and motor nerves and the mucus membrane lining the throat.” Build ups of inorganic Arsenic have been reported in the liver, spleen, kidney, lungs and intestines. From these organs, it deposits in tissue such as skin and nails. “Symptoms of acute inorganic arsenic poisoning”, says this website, “include severe burning of the mouth and throat, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure and muscle spasms. Individuals with severe inorganic arsenic poisoning may experience heart problems, accumulation of acids in the tubes of the kidneys, breakdown of this hemoglobin of red blood cells, irregular heart rhythms, coma, seizures, bleeding within the intestines, yellowing of the skin, mucus membrane and white of the eyes (jaundice).”
You will find arsenic poisoning frightening if you realize that arsenic is a weed killer used on the farms to protect such crops as Carrots, Cucumber, water melon and many types of vegetables. It is not surprising that beans from Nigerians farm has been barned in Europ. A few years ago, our cocoa was banned in the world market. The residue leaches into the soil and poisons underground water, shallow wells especially.
Will Allen says in www.chelseagreen.com “more than 100 products add Arsenic as an ingredient, including but not limited to wall papers, paint, cosmetics, medicines, fruits preserves in cans, bakery foods, cocoa, sweet meat, tobacco, book coverings, book bindings, lamp shades, decorated plates, toy decorations, cardboard boxes, labels, carpets, water colours, dental fillings, stocking veils, stuffed animals candles.”
Wherever we turn, we encounter arsenic. Dr. Cottinghan advises in www.prevention.com that arsenic was plentiful in Cruciferous Vegetables (which are among the best antioxidant vegetables), dark meat fish (Tuna, Mackarel, Salmon, Sardines, Blue fish and sword fish, Rice, chicken and other poultry and Beer and Wine). As Arsenic comes hand in hand with sulphur, it is often suggested that unsulphured wines and blackstrap Molasses be consummed. We cannot flee from Arsenic. For there is no hiding place for us world poisoned by man.
It is in water and in the soil, in the water from boreholes… it is everywhere. What we can do is to regularly remove it from our bodies as we should other heavy metals as well. When we eliminate the ones in the intestines today, the ones in the cells and other soft tissue are emptied into the intestine the next day.
It is like on Sanitation Day in Nigeria when we bring all the dust and garbage from the household into the streets for the dustmen to take away. Detoxification process should be followed up with periodic high colonic irrigation with inedible coffee to open up the liver and the bowels.
ARSENIC poisoning may be scary, that of lead is no less frightening. Lead toxicity in children may make them “less playful, clumsier, irritable and sluggish.” According to raredisease.org “in some cases, symptoms include headache, vomiting, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, constipation, slurred speech, changes in kidney function, usually high amounts of protein in the blood, and usually pale skin resulting from a low level of iron in the red blood cell”
Says the website. “Neurological symptoms associated with lead overexposure include an impaired ability to co-ordinate voluntary movements, brain damage, seizures, convulsions, swelling of the optic nerve and or impaired consciousness. Some affected children experience learning or behavioral problems such as mental retardation and selective deficit in language, cognitive function, balance, behavior, and school performance. In some cases, symptoms may be life-threatening.”
In adults, over-exposure to lead may cause high blood pressure and damage to the reproductive organs. Additional symptoms may include fever, headaches, fatigues, sluggishness, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, constipation, joint pain, loss of recently acquired skills, incordination, listlessness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, altered consciousness, hallucinations and or seizures. In addition, affected individual may experience low levels of iron in the red blood cells, peripheral neuropathy and, income cases, brain damage”
Here is good news about how to protect the body against brain damage. I wish to quickly refer to it ahead of other suggestions for lead detoxification in the second part of this series. The good news is that, at Babcock University in Ilisan, Ogun State of Nigeria, a physiologist researcher is studying the possibility of reversing lead-induced brain damage with Moringa Oloifera, as a food supplement. I cannot give details of this study ahead of its publication in a science journal. The researcher divided rats into four groups and treated them as follows… Group I was given normal diet. Group II was given normal diet with lead…
Group III was given normal diet with lead and Moringa
Group IV was given normal diet and Moringa.
After some weeks, the rats were “sacrificed” (that is, killed) and their brains were examined. Prior to the experiment, they were all tested for cognition and other skills, all were found to be in excellent conditions. After the experiment and the study of their brains, the rats fed normal diet and those normal diet and moringa had no brain damage, they had only changes in the brain typical of rats of their age. The rats fed normal diet and lead suffered extensive brain damage. The rats fed normal diet, lead and Moringa suffered mild brain damage. Another experiment is to be set up to study the possibility of reversing brain damage in rats, using Moringa as a food supplement.
This experiment at Babcock University shows that heavy metals poisoning can be curbed or prevented, and that it may be possible to even reverse the damage it causes. Already, many experiment have shown many food supplements act likewise in respect of the organs of the body they are specific to. For example, Milk Thistle and Eclipta and Eclipta alba (false daisy) protect the liver against damage by carbon tetrachloride, one of the deadliest toxic chemicals an unprotected liver does not withstand. Bilberry protect the eyes. Ubiquinol strengthens the heart. Slippery elm helps ulcers. Chlorella excrets heavy metals and other toxics from the body. So do zeolite, Diatom, chelated minerals such as Zinc, EDTA.
We are all exposed and host of these to lead every day. Overexposed people include battery plant workers, lead production workers, welders and solders. We are exposed to lead when we inhale the fumes of motor vehicle exhaust or snuff the smell of house paint. Some diner plates are hardened with lead so, serving hot food in them may expose the diner(s) to lead toxicity. Lead appears in the stool, urine, saliva, hair and nail. In Europe, it is possible to determine amounts of lead in the body through hair analysis of minerals and metals. It is doubtful if such diagnosis takes place in Nigeria where the patients, if superstitious or fetish, may fear diabolical uses of his or her hair sample. As stated earlier, we cannot protect ourselves well enough against heavy metals in this over poisoned world. For lead, for example, is in drinking water, toys, playgrounds, vegetable gardens, window sills, in the air, in the soil, in the cosmetics, everywhere.
The website www.lead.org.au/fs/fst2.html. Widens the net… “There are at least 3.5 million homes in Australia with lead-based paint and it is not possible to identify it by its looks. Lead paints often sweet-tasting and, therefore, children would pick at it and eat it, and animals will eat it. Also, when this paint is sanded, scraped or is peeling, it creates a dangerous lead dust that is easily inhaled or swallowed. This dust also enters soil where it is easily accessed by children or animals. Lead does not breakdown. It remains toxic and unless dealt with safely, it will not go away.
‘Exhaust emissions from leaded-petrol driven vehicles were another source of lead particles which not only pollute the air but settle on soil and on buildings where people will come in contact with it.
‘Workers such as furniture restorers, lead lighters, car battery and radiator workers and painters can bring home lead dust on their clothes and their children are poisoned as a result.
“The first flush of water in the morning or during the night should not be given to babies or young children because lead can leach into water. New taps can contain 4.5 percent lead and older taps can contain even more. New plumbing may leach lead for up to five years.
A water filter may be the answer for your family. “Some food cans sold in Australia still had lead solder. These cans are usually irregular in shape with a thick seam and horizontal depression (dent). This is a source of lead that is easily avoided by buying a non-lead soldered product with flat welded seam.”
The list goes on and on and on. Detoxification would appear to be the only escape route in our world today poisoned by heavy metals.