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I’ve been called paranoid time and again. I try and avoid plastic as much as I can, I avoid canned and packaged food as much as possible, and I shop organic for stuff like apple, greens and peaches, because I believe they absorb the most pesticide.

The husband has forbidden the use of any food products made in China, so I diligently pore at labels to make sure of this…then, I open the New York times, and read this article:

A widely used herbicide acts as a female hormone and feminizes male animals in the wild. Thus male frogs can have female organs, and some male fish actually produce eggs. In a Florida lake contaminated by these chemicals, male alligators have tiny penises.

These days there is also growing evidence linking this class of chemicals to problems in humans. These include breast cancer, infertility, low sperm counts, genital deformities, early menstruation and even diabetes and obesity.

Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that a congenital defect called hypospadias — a misplacement of the urethra — is now twice as common among newborn boys as it used to be. He suspects endocrine disruptors, so called because they can wreak havoc with the endocrine system that governs hormones.

Endocrine disruptors are everywhere. They’re in thermal receipts that come out of gas pumps and A.T.M.’s. They’re in canned foods, cosmetics, plastics and food packaging. Test your blood or urine, and you’ll surely find them there, as well as in human breast milk and in cord blood of newborn babies.

So, should I get further alarmed, or just dismiss this as paranoia? As a writer, I’m tempted to ask the infamous “What if” questions—I bet science fiction writers have already done that and produced excellent stories/ novels/ scripts.

What sort of things do you do/not do in order to avoid ‘harmful’ chemicals?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • After I was struck with severe lung/respiratory problems at the age of 30 and put on oxygen, I was shocked to see that not only myself, but everyone in the room had never smoked but for one person. SCARY, Then my dad developed one of my lung conditions, PF was put on oxygen and died suddenly, then last month my mom. She had seemed so fit, active and healthy, overnight just like my dad one of my lung diseases hit her and she died within 5 months. They gave me 4 years to live in 1999 yet here I am so don’t ask me housebound on oxygen since I was 30 and I tried to live the healthy clean lifestyle. They ask if it’s hereditary, who knows? Not before me, then dad, then mom was it ever in our family history. Locality? Air pollution? After the lung diseases hit, Rheumatoid Arthritis hit me out of the blue. I was paralyzed literally with pain the doctors were stunned and said they had read about RA hitting people that severely and suddenly but had never “seen” it. So yeah I’m terrified! I can’t ever be knocked out for surgery or even dental work, when you are on oxygen you will most likely end up on a ventilator if given a general or die. It is very scary and there don’t seem to be any answers and the oxygen company said to me they can’t understand how too many people, especially young people as I was when it hit me, need oxygen. The nurse said it too, she said some struck overnight with it as I was, literally can’t walk 3 feet without turning blue. I am lucky there I can walk the length the 25 foot hose will allow me to, but with this thing around my face, up my nose and being tied to a cord for so many years feels claustrophobic at the very laast but it’s better than the alternative. I am angry and it sucks but I live with it, they tell me how well I do and I am a fighter and a stoic. i said what part of I hate this, it hurts, I wonder days how much longer I can live like this after so many years etc they don’t get? They laugh? I guess they have to say or do something they can’t fix me. Blessings. Pardon Typo’s RA is not kind to the hands.
    a PS the 14 pills and inhalers I have to take/use every day suck too, big time. And yes it’s better than the alternative

    • God Bless you, may you find peace and health, Amen. I’m not a prayer type of man, but this kind of rolled of my . Again, God Bless and be With You!

  • Yes to the point of being overwhelmed by all of the bad stuff we eat, drink, breathe and after our beautiful English Sheepdog died from the tainted dog food from China remember that? He was only 6. I’ve gotten to where I see warnings and I shut the page down and walk away The doctor said we get media overload of all of the bad news/things, so leaving TV and using a computer is not helping much!

    • DO NOT FEED DOG TREATS MADE CHINA!!! Especially chicken types. The have been traced to death, usually from kidney failure. Please refer to USDA reports in regards to chinese treats. Don’t be mislead, they will say they are distributed by US companies! Look close to where they are made! Do not purchase made in China, dispose of unused treats!!

      • I, Stephen R Hampton do hereby promise to never reply, respond, or write another sentence from this damn cell phone!! Grrrrr, it makes me look like a sixth grade drop out. And I made out to the seventh!!! NO, I made it to* the seventh….. I GIVE UP, DAMN AUTO CORRECT………..

  • riatarded says:

    I don’t eat fast food. At all!

  • I’m so embarrassed that I came back to see if I could sabotage MY, no one elses ! But my phone is driving me crazy. Its like this comment section is possessed! LOL, I cannot make out work in this box, its picking works-wise, words, there after him many attempts. please blow my darn additions up! Judge ones with stupid sentences, grammar errors, because they be me! Lol, good night, uh morning! God Bless

  • I really wish I was in an authoritarian place to offer up my family for any and all tests to see why we live long and with out following any common rules of diet, do to speak.
    IE Father lives until 90! Nice huh? He had problems that the finest docs said should have killed him twenty-thirty years ago. Mother,95, besides the terrible Macular (sp) degeneration she is unsinkable. She has received over 60 major fractures of major bones, countless more breaks of “minor” bones, fingers, toes, ribs. Still a major force to be reckoned with mentally! I an 64 look 50& have been through hel & back. Survivor of the 60s. My family would rather take a stick in the eye target miss a MEAL, with out red meat. My health, other than beating myself to a pulp racing, vocational, breaking many bones, having a knee replacement is great. I drank heavily. probably 48 years. I stopped drinking after completing a 28 day program. I quit for 12 years. I started drinking again, yes I felt the involuntary wincing. I can take drinking out leave it. Point is there is something in our genes that shows us to read everything out in print as to how to eat. Listen to docs that say we HAVE to do this, that, exercise, we do absolutely nothing like other people do to stay alive. What’s wrong with us? Sorry if this doesn’t make sense! My latest problem is caused from my let that has to be nursed around the clock, so now I am grisly. Sleeping an hour at a time, then up for five. This had been going on for a year and a half! So my tirades leave something to be desired, but again I am actually in good mental health, physically fit. I drive real fast, deadly race cars with out a problem, and regularly beat drivers on their twenties. More I haver forgotten what the Hell and where the Hell I am, with the common thread of wishing my family could be tested. Possibly something could arise to help my classmates that are suffering from cancer, pulmonary, skeletal, heck you name it. We lived with in ten square miles. People are dropping from cancer, heart, respiratory, you namer it they’ll die for you with something. Now back to work with dialysis for my puppy, them a round of injections, and I get to sleep for another hour maybe. But, if the medical field were to isolate something in our genes, unravel our DNA , stem cell isolation, out planet would explode! We’d exterminate ourselves just from the new found treatment, Hamptonaza tion. The world would evolve because of the lack of food, not meds. I think I’ll just pen a novel instead, writing about what I just outlined. What future does our world really have anyhow? We treat patients to live longer, healthier, they eat, drink, make liver, make babies, we perish. Bye I’m moving and changing my name. I’ll be living in a cave along a stream. I have to save the world!!

  • yellowjac says:

    Reblogged this on yellowjac and commented:
    China’s at it again, keep your pet safe..Reblog this from How Paranoid are you Daily Write

  • jannatwrites says:

    I can be pretty paranoid, but I also can’t afford to buy all organic. I could drive myself nuts if I really thought about it too much. I put my mind at ease by reminding myself that if the food doesn’t get me, something in my environment will 🙂

    • Damyanti says:

      I don’t buy all organic either—and it doesn’t make sense. Something like Broccoli does not absorb pesticides as much as a Watermelon or Peach. We do what we can—we can’t do it all, or we’ll go mad.

  • Phytoestrogens have long been a source of potential concern. Entire gene pools of alligators in Florida have died off because of these things disrupting their ability to breed and reproduce. Globally the ratio of boys versus girls being born has shifted slightly as well. Insignificant to the layman, perhaps, but statistically it is a cause for concern.

    This also plays a theoretical role in why many men as they age suffer depression, weight gain, fatigue, and other similar problems. Declining testosterone levels can be treated with exogenous hormone therapy, but many doctors know nothing of it or are afraid to dabble in the area. A definite cause for concern and one that should be rectified, but so should the reason these changes are occurring in the first place!

    My advice is to stay paranoid and on top of that, avoid soy products – they’re loaded with this kind of stuff and over a lifetime of use it can make a difference for some people.

    • Damyanti says:

      Jason, I’ve heard all kinds of things about Soy. And honey—which have all sorts of hormonal things which directly affect us. Now that the world is so interconnected, so profit-driven, and so packaged—who do we trust any more?

  • Hmmm…maybe I’m not paranoid enough…generally I’ve avoid most processed foods all my life..maybe that’s not enough anymore 🙁

    • Damyanti says:

      Avoiding all processed foods can’t be a bad thing. I hate things that come in cans and bottles– I wish I could go get milk straight from the cow like when I was a kid– it will remain a wish unless I want to run a farm.

  • Yeah, if we always tried to stay from “dangers” we’d never be able to live! 🙂

    So I just take the same thought as Arlee (whose comment is hilarious by the way!) and try to do my best to avoid what I know is not good for me and help my immune system beat the rest 🙂 This stuff can be scary though…


    • Damyanti says:

      Yep, the stuff is scary. A friend had all sorts of problems, which the doc finally narrowed down to the excessive presence of plastic in her kitchen!

  • xerardomendez says:

    Now I understand some changes I have suffered… Please, don’t tell!

    A bit more seriously, I agree with Arlee someway. About organic or ecological products … How can you be sure they are? I have some friends working on food sector, and believe me, better don’t listen to what they confess after the fourth beer…

    • Damyanti says:

      Yep, Organic is not always organic. I only buy some things organic, not all—and even then, I’m not sure how much it helps.

  • Arlee Bird says:

    I’m not really paranoid. I don’t do anything to avoid harmful additives. I just eat, drink, and breathe it all. Maybe I’ll turn into some weird mutated monster eventually because of it. Then again I’ll just keep being the weird mutant that I am and eventually become indestructible.

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  • Stuart Nager says:

    Yup…all these testings and marvels make SciFi (or speculative fiction) fun.