The Silent Killer Strikes again: Carbon Monoxide

I was just talking to my mentor about my blog last Wednesday.  I was telling him that I planned to add an article on Carbon Monoxide poisoning; based on an experience I had renting a basement a few years ago. I was debating in my head if that story would be of any interest to anyone, because no one ever talks about carbon monoxide. You hear a whole lot about carbon dioxide and global warming, but nothing about carbon monoxide, so I wondered about its relevance. Then almost as if I was being divinely inspired, news reports came out a few days later about two separate families who had died as a result of carbon dioxide poisoning. So I’m going to talk a little about those reports, my own experience, and then go into detail about carbon dioxide, because recent events prove, just what I had said to my mentor – people just don’t know…they just don’t understand…carbon monoxide can kill  you. Continue reading

Hello Hookah

You’ve probably noticed the obnoxious smell of contraband in the air, your hair and your clothes while visiting a club, bar, or lounge has been suddenly replaced with the sweet smoldering scent of Hookah. Gone are the days of the disk jockey abruptly stopping the music to announce that management will shut down the party if, the owner of some offensive ganga smoke doesn’t extinguish his ‘spliff” immediately. So how did this come to be, how did Shisha replace Maryjane on the dance floor? Is she the new slimmer sexier safer cigarette or something more sinister and insidious?

Hookah also known  as shisha, and commonly referred to as waterpipe smoking is a combination of tobacco, water, and charcoal smoked through a waterpipe. Although novel, mysterious, and exotic to many in the U.S.A. is has been smoked for centuries primarily by men in the Middle East, eastern Mediterranean , and parts of Asia like India. During the 1990’s fancy flavored tobacco was introduced and the hookah experience began to explode. All sorts of exotic fruity flavors, and sultry perfumed fragrances captured the senses of young women, and collage aged adolescents and young adults.

I still remember when my roommates would go down to the Village in Manhattan to secluded hookah lounges where they could be hip and trendy. Now hookah is at any and every venue imaginable. It’s now the accepted and expected thing to do while on the scene these days. It’s commonly perceived as being a safe and noncriminal alternative to smoking cigarettes or weed People say “it’s just flavored water vapor” or that “the water filters out the bad stuff”. Is this true though? Why buzz would you get from smoking mist anyway?

In actuality, hookah contains the same harmful chemicals as cigarettes such as nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde. Just like with traditional smoking, it carries a risk of cancer, but with the added risks of infectious disease. Sharing a mouthpiece or pipe can transmit tuberculosis and other respiratory infections. In habitual users, research has shown an increase  in heart rate  blood pressure, and bronchitis. Long term use can result in cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, because  of the tar, nicotine, and fine particulate matter released from the burning coal and tobacco.

Hookah has not been regulated by the FDA in the U.S. so there are no warnings labeled at sale. Due to the current lack of government regulation many people assume it is safe. The EPA and National Toxicology Program warn against the adverse affects of hookah, its second-hand smoke, and addictive propensity. Organizations like the Society of Toxicology are working to education the public and push for more research and government control. The reality is that a rose by any other name is still a rose. Hookah is the new cigarette in a sexier dress and better perfume.