Friday, June 09, 2006

Longest word and worst ongoing tragedy

Not a quotation today, but a word. In this case, the longest word in
the English language. And some shocking information to boot.

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, noun
sis, nyoo-)
A lung disease caused by inhaling fine particles of silica.

The disease is also known as silicosis or black lung disease.
This entry comes from Anu Garg's "A Word A Day" which is available
daily (the word changes each day) on the Links page of my web site at

This message was not to impress you with the English language's
longest word, but to make a note about a problem associated with this
Any dust or powder finer than half the diameter of a human hair
(there is enough of it around most homes, such as baby powder) enters
the lungs when we inhale, then remains there.
That's it! It can't come out. You can't sneeze or cough it out. It
remains lodged in your lungs until they decay after you die.
People who work in dusty environments such as auto body repair shops
continually inhale dust and often must stop working for the rest of
their lives by the age of 40. They avoid wearing masks because they
are hot and uncomfortable.
What about particles from smoking cigarettes, the ones that form the
smoke? When a smoker inhales, then exhales, smoke comes out. But not
all of it comes out. Some gets stuck in there, grabbed by the
moisture in the airway or the lungs. The part in the lungs stays
there forever.
When my father died of lung cancer, after smoking for 60 years or so,
one of his lungs was approximately one-quarter filled with dust
litter, mostly the particles of cigarette smoke. The other lung had
slightly less.
My mother died--before my father, by six years--of cancer (including
lung cancer) brought on by inhaling second hand smoke.
My sister, following the role model of our father, died of lung
cancer last year.
These deaths were not caused by smoke particles, of course, but by
other chemicals in smoke. These chemicals include toluene (an
industrial solvent), hydrogen cyanide (poison used in gas chanbers),
formaldehyde (used as a preservative for dead tissue), DDT (a
pesticide banned because it caused cancer), cadmium (used in car
batteries), acetone (paint stripper), mercury, lead, benzene, vinyl
chorlide (used for making plastic PVC pipe), and more. Heck, I didn't
even mention nicotine or tar in that list. Tar, you know, like they
pave roads with.
I may have missed arsenic too (used as a poison for ants, and at one
time for killing people). There are others, but the names are
chemical names you would not likely have heard of.
Those chemicals are aside from the fact that with every breath, a
smoker accumulates solid particles in their lungs, particles which
make their lung capacity less with each breath. And the fact that
tobacco has been directly linked to literally dozens of diseases.
Maybe I should tell you this too. This stuff doesn't grow in the
tobacco. Almost all of it is added by the cigarette manufacturers.
That's right, cigarette manufacturers add poison to products that may
be legally sold to innocent smokers.
The fastest growing market for cigarettes in the world is children.
In many countries, men give cigarettes to children outside of
schools. No charge. After a month of giving away free cigarettes, the
kids are hooked. Hooked? Oh, yes, the manufacturers add a known
addictive agent to get the kids hooked.
The tobacco industry is so profitable that the pension fund which
will supply my pension from my years as a teacher, the Ontario
Teachers' Pension Fund, has about 25 percent of its huge portfolio
invested in tobacco companies.
And I can't do anything about it.
But maybe you can share some of this information with people you know
who are smokers. Or with parents with children who may soon be
introduced to cigarettes. They naively believe that no one will try
to harm their kids.
Teach the children.

(Source of contents of cigarette smoke: Canadian Cancer Society)

Bill Allin
To help me change this tragedy, please pass along this message to
others and encourage them to join the TIA (TurningItAround) group at
Eventually we will get enough people behind us that we can influence
governments to legislate changes.
It's a peaceful revolution. Are you up to it? Or are your lungs too
Learn more about this process of change at

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