What Is Ebola?

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The Ebola virus, which has caused various outbreaks in Africa since it was first identified in 1976, is one of the deadliest viruses known.

Causing severe bleeding and organ failure, most of the sub-types of the virus kill in 25-90 percent of the people they infect. There are no approved drugs to treat the disease.

Humans contract Ebola from animals, often from eating infected meat or contact with bat faeces or urine. Once one person gets it, it can be spread through body fluids, contaminated needles, and body tissue. The contagious period usually starts after symptoms appear. New infections often occur when family members take care of each other and prepare dead bodies for burial.

If you are exposed to the any of the African forms of the Ebola virus, you will begin to display symptoms anywhere from two to 21 days following that exposure. The onset of the illness is rapid. Symptoms, which usually come on quickly, include fever, headache, aches, chills and sore throat, and progress to nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, chest pain and cough, weight loss and bleeding.

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An Ebola Virus victim’s arm.

Ebola fever is diagnosed using blood tests to detect the Ebola virus in your blood. Your doctor may test you for the Ebola virus if you have symptoms of Ebola fever and have recently been in an area where the virus is found.

You can lower your risk of becoming infected with the Ebola virus by avoiding locations where it is found, especially during times when there is an outbreak of Ebola fever.

Also avoid handling live or dead wild animals. Some species of animals besides primates may carry the Ebola virus. The African subtypes of the virus have also been found in forest antelope and fruit bats. Also, always be sure to wear special protective clothing (gown, gloves, full face mask and eye goggles) if you are around a person with Ebola fever.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

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Ever wondered on the unique qualities a simple apple posseses? I’m quite sure that after this post you will go to Mbare Musika and Egodini to buy those apples you always turned a blind eye on.

True, the topic of this blog may be said to be just a statement but when I looked at it in another perspective I discovered that an apple really does miracles to a person’s health (not the Makandiwa type of miracles though :)).

An ordinary apple contains Pectin, Boron, Quercetin, Vitamin C, and Phytonutrients amongst other equally important components. I have chosen to explain these components because they have unique qualities that keep the human body health and keeping the doctor away as well.

Pectin 

Pectin is a form of soluble fiber than lowers both blood pressure and glucose levels. It can also lower the levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol in the body. Pectin, like other forms of fiber, helps maintain the health of the digestive system. Apples are an excellent source of pectin.

Boron 

A nutrient found in abundance in apples, boron supports strong bones and a healthy brain.

Quercetin 

A flavonoid, this nutrient shows promise for reducing the risk of various cancers, including cancers in the lungs and breast. It may also reduce free radical damage. Free radicals develop when atoms in the body’s cells have unpaired electrons, which can lead to damage to different parts of the cell, including DNA. Quercetin may neutralize free radical damage, which has been implicated in a variety of age-related health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C boosts immunity, which helps maintain overall health.

Phytonutrients

Apples are rich in a variety of phytonutrients, including vitamins A and E and beta carotene. These compounds fight damage from free radicals and can have a profound affect on health, including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

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Apples also act as a toothbrush, cleaning teeth and killing bacteria in the mouth, which may reduce the risk of tooth decay. They’re also low in calorie density, one of the trademarks of a healthy food. When a food is low in calorie density you can eat good size portions of the food for relatively few calories. In addition, apples are affordable and readily available hence my earlier Mbare Musika statement.

While an apple a day will go a long way toward keeping the doctor away, most nutritionists recommend a varied diet. In addition to apples, fill your shopping cart with citrus fruits, tropical treats like mangos, and a variety of berries, which pack a nutritional punch. Eating several servings of a varied selection of fruits each day is truly the best way to keep the doctor away.

 

Is DNA Testing on pregnant women safe?

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A computer model of DNA- Techzim

Good news Zimbabwean folks. Zimbabwe is now going to be able to do DNA tests locally and I’m certain that many men will start doubting whether their better halves are really pregnant for them.  As the saying goes, patience is a virtue, and fortune comes to those who wait, DNA testing your child when you are or your female counterpart is still pregnant can cause miscarriage and the best way is to wait until the child is born and do your tests then.

A DNA test during pregnancy usually is carried out to determine the paternity of the child. Other reasons for a DNA test during pregnancy include testing for genetic diseases or abnormalities, and also to determine whether the child is a girl or a boy. The genetic material that is located in the cell nucleus and the mitochondria is called deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA. DNA provides important genetic information and about a person. DNA testing during pregnancy is called as prenatal DNA testing. This DNA test result is as conclusive as a standard paternity test as a baby’s DNA is set right from conception itself. While the result itself will not change the change is in the way the test is performed. A standard paternity test (DNA test) is usually carried out using samples from oral swabs while a prenatal DNA test is carried out on samples taken from the pregnant mother. There are two main types of DNA tests that are carried out in prenatal DNA testing:chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis.

Amniocentesis is usually performed between the 12th and 21st week of pregnancy. It is a process where a sample of the amniotic fluid is taken from the expectant mother. An ultrasound is used while carrying out this test. The ultrasound is made use of to make a thin needle go safely into the mother’s uterus through the abdomen. This needle is used to draw out some amniotic fluid (fluid surrounding the womb) and this fluid is then tested. This kind of DNA testing during pregnancy carries certain risks like cramping, miscarriage, vaginal bleeding and also leaking of the amniotic fluid. My question is would a person really wish to take such risks on their life and that of their offspring just to determine who the father is?

Chorionic Villus Sampling also abbreviated as CVS:  This is the other method of DNA testing at the time of pregnancy. This type of DNA test could be carried out between 10-13 weeks once the pregnancy has occurred. It is a process of obtaining cells from the surface of the placenta. An ultrasound is also used in this test to guide the tube thin or a needle right from the vagina and passing through the patient’s cervix to remove a sample of chronic villi. Chronic villi are small portions of tissue which are in the shape of fingers. This is normally seen on the walls of the uterus. Risks associated with this kind of DNA test include miscarriage and possible chances of defects in the child’s fingers or toes.

With that being said, we are all quite happy for the development of our country’s technology towards DNA testing and similar procedures. We now do not have to send amniotic fluid and blood samples to South Africa for testing,we can now simply send them to Harare 🙂 (no Pun intended). However we must not short live our happiness by rushing into things when we do not know their consequences.  You might be told that the procedure is totally harmless, don’t buy it, DNA testing is expensive and your child’s funeral will not be cheaper. 

Keep in mind that a doctor’s approval is required for both of the above tests. If you are more than 24 weeks pregnant and undergo tests, the risk of damaging your baby is even higher. It is important to weight the pros and cons before having DNA tests during pregnancy.

The Three R’s of The Environment.

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To maintain a safe environment for both flora and fauna we are supposed to work together in minimising pollution from waste materials. The best approach to this is to take the the Three R’s perspective when it comes to waste management. The three R’s include Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling. This blog will basically break the Three R’s down and explain them for your understanding, which will greatly help in improving the state of our already deteriorating environment.

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Reducing.

Reducing the amount of waste you produce is the best way to help the environment. There are lots of ways to do this. For example:

    • Buy products that don’t have a lot of packaging. Some products are wrapped in many layers of plastic and paper-board even though they don’t need to be. You can also look for things that are packed in materials that don’t require a lot of energy or resources to produce. Some products will put that information right on their labels.
    • Instead of buying something you’re not going to use very often, see if you can borrow it from someone you know.
    • Cars use up energy and cause pollution. Some ways to reduce the environmental damage caused by cars include carpooling with friends, walking, taking the bus, or riding your bike instead of driving.
    • Start a compost bin. Some people set aside a place in their yard where they can dispose of certain food and plant materials. Over time, the materials will break down through a natural process called decomposition. The compost is good for the soil in your yard and means that less garbage will go to the landfill.
    • You can reduce waste by using a computer! Many newspapers and magazines are online now except for Umthunya and Kwayedza :). Instead of buying the paper versions, you can find them on the Internet. Also remember that you should print out only what you need. Everything you print that you don’t really need is a waste of paper.
    • Save energy by turning off lights that you are not using.
    • Save water by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth.

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Reuse

Instead of throwing things away, try to find ways to use them again! For example:

  • Bring cloth sacks to the store with you instead of taking home new paper or plastic bags. You can use these sacks again and again. You’ll be saving some trees!
  • Plastic containers and reusable lunch bags are great ways to take your lunch to school without creating waste.
  • Coffee cans, shoe boxes, margarine containers, and other types of containers people throw away can be used to store things or can become fun arts and crafts projects. Use your imagination!
  • Don’t throw out clothes, toys, furniture, and other things that you don’t want anymore. Somebody else can probably use them. You can bring them to a centre that collects donations, give them to friends, or even have a yard sale.
  • Use all writing paper on both sides.
  • Use paper grocery bags to make book covers rather than buying new ones.
  • Use silverware and dishes instead of disposable plastic utensils and plates.
  • Store food in reusable plastic containers.

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Recycle

Many of the things we use every day, like paper bags, soda cans, and milk cartons, are made out of materials that can be recycled. Recycled items are put through a process that makes it possible to create new products out of the materials from the old ones.

In addition to recycling the things you buy, you can help the environment by buying products that contain recycled materials. Many brands of paper towels, garbage bags, greeting cards, and toilet paper, to name a few examples, will tell you on their labels if they are made from recycled materials.

In some towns you can leave your recyclables in bins outside your home, and a truck will come and collect them regularly. Other towns have recycling centers where you can drop off the materials you’ve collected. Things like paper and plastic grocery bags, and plastic and aluminum cans and bottles can often be brought to the grocery store for recycling. Whatever your system is, it’s important to remember to rinse out and sort your recyclables!

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Anorexia

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Anorexia nervosa is a potentially life threatening eating disorder. It is a serious psychological disorder characterised by a significantly reduced appetite or complete aversion to eating.

Anorexia nervosa has no single cause. A majority of experts believe the mental disorder is caused by a combination of biological, environmental and psychological factors. Some individuals are thought to have personality traits which make them more susceptible to developing the disease. Being underweight and not having a normal diet may have an effect on the brain which reinforces behaviours and obsessive thoughts related to anorexia nervosa. In other words, under-eating and being underweight can set off a cycle of further weight loss and under-eating.Approximately 95% of those affected by anorexia are female, but males can develop the disorder as well. While anorexia typically begins to manifest itself during early adolescence, it is also seen in young children and adults.

Anorexic individuals deprive themselves of food even when there is no food shortage.
Anorexic individuals deprive themselves of food even when there is no food shortage.

In Africa such sicknesses are not as famous even though it may be surprising that they actually exist. In the year 2000, BBC founded out that doctors from Edinburgh screened all 668 female students at a secondary school in rural Ghana for height and weight to determine if they met the criteria for diagnosing anorexia nervosa. The girls came from various social backgrounds.They were not poor and had access to food. However, a small number were found to have low weight caused by self-imposed diets. The six girls cited various reasons for dieting. These included religious fasting, particularly around times of stress, and for feelings of self-control.

In the U.S. and other countries with high economic status, it is estimated that about one out of every 100 adolescent girls has the disorder. Caucasians are more often affected than people of other racial backgrounds, and anorexia is more common in middle and upper socio-economic groups. So is anorexia truly a disorder or something that affects the economically advantaged. The media also plays a great part in causing anorexic break outs. As far fetched as it may sound, I can justify my statement using the rural Ugandan context. Young girls may get certain ideas on how a perfect woman is supposed to look like from the media, especially the western context of “the perfect woman.”

This may result in extreme diets whereby someone would not eat at all in order to achieve the perfect woman look.

There are also psychological, environmental, and social factors that may contribute to the development of anorexia. People with anorexia come to believe that their lives would be better if only they were thinner. These people tend to be perfectionists and overachievers. In fact, the typical anorexic person is a good student involved in school and community activities. Many experts think that anorexia is part of an unconscious attempt to come to terms with unresolved conflicts or painful childhood experiences. While sexual abuse has been shown to be a factor in the development of bulimia, it is not associated with the development of anorexia.

Global warming: How Africa is affected.

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When I was reading the article Rich Nations Put Global Warming Burden on Africa I realised that Africa is getting drawn into being one of  the major perpetrators of global destruction through global warming when in actual fact its contribution is not as intentional and as bad as other continents’.    

Africa is said to only have 14 percent of the world’s total population but only contributes 3% of the global greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming annually. The United States of America on the other hand has 5% of the world’s total population and contributes nearly 25 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas pollution annually.

The Union of Concerned Scientists notes that although Africa have some of the lowest overall and per capita global warming emissions on the planet, they are also likely to suffer from some of the worst consequences of climate change. These impacts may already be unfolding in the form of droughts, famine, desertification, and population displacement. In the context of high levels of poverty and malnutrition, the priority for many African countries is increasing access to energy services and improving the economic welfare of their people.

It is quite saddening to realise that Africa is paying for sins it did not commit. The main culprits behind global warming which are Australia, Canada and the USA are not as affected the way Africa is. Africa, along with South America and South-east Asia, has experienced a significant loss of forests in the past two decades. The Congo Basin Rainforest is the world’s second largest tropical forest and spans 700,000 square miles in 6 countries. Fortunately, deforestation and forest degradation in the Congo Basin are historically low. New efforts are under way to ensure effective land use planning, balancing local subsistence needs with conservation.

However, with the pace global warming is moving on, it will just be a matter of time before the Congo Basin Rainforest faces the unfortunate fate of desertification due to global warming. As bad as that sounds, it gets more depressing when you look at the contribution of Africa when it comes to global warming, which is significantly low when compared to the “more developed” continents.  

Should Africa die because of the irresponsibility of developed countries? A majority of Africans live with little to no access to electricity and personal transport usage is among the world’s lowest. Africans do not have as many auto-mobiles as more developed continents do. New developments and new ways of releasing greenhouse gases are invented by scientists regularly instead of the same effort and finance being put towards coming up with ways of combating global warming.

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Africa is the most affected by global warming because of the poor economic state most African countries are in. The changes from the Great Warming are already being felt in many places nowadays. The people of northern Kenya, for instance, are still suffering today from a drought that started in 2003. Kenyan pastoralists have lost 10 million livestock, and two-thirds of the population in the Turkana region has lost their livelihoods.

In Nigeria, severe flooding in the Niger Delta has become more frequent, with floods wiping out crops and disrupting traditional farming practices. In Tanzania, one third of the ice field peak of Mount Kilimanjaro has disappeared in the last 12 years; 82 percent of Kilimanjaro’s peak has vanished since it was first mapped in 1912.

Global warming has also caused changes in weather patterns that have and will continue to disrupt livelihoods across the continent. Declining crop yields in the next 20 years will lead to more famines and deaths. Droughts and increasing desertification mean smaller areas of viable farm land and an increase in forced migration to more densely populated areas. The results of global warming will inevitably heighten resource scarcity and fuel conflict and war.

 

Schizophrenia: Is it rare in Zim or ignored.

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I’m quite sure that trying to pronounce that word will be very hard for us who speak English as a second language. But then if the word on its own (Schizophrenia) is hard to pronounce, how can we understand what it is, or even notice its existence? Food for thought!

Schizophrenia is a challenging disorder that makes it difficult to distinguish between what is real and unreal, think clearly, manage emotions, relate to others, and function normally. It is a brain disorder that affects the way a person acts, thinks, and sees the world. People with schizophrenia have an altered perception of reality, often a significant loss of contact with reality. They may see or hear things that don’t exist, speak in strange or confusing ways, believe that others are trying to harm them, or feel like they’re being constantly watched. With such a blurred line between the real and the imaginary, schizophrenia makes it difficult—even frightening—to negotiate the activities of daily life. In response, people with schizophrenia may withdraw from the outside world or act out in confusion and fear.

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One symptom of schizophrenia is the feeling of always being under great threat.

After my research on Schizophrenia I noticed that some of its symptoms include social withdrawal, hostility or suspiciousness, deterioration of personal hygiene, flat, expressionless gaze, inability to cry or express joy, inappropriate laughter or crying, depression, oversleeping or insomnia, odd or irrational statements, forgetful; unable to concentrate, extreme reaction to criticism and strange use of words or way of speaking amongst others.

Schizophrenia has a strong hereditary component. Individuals with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who has schizophrenia have a 10 percent chance of developing the disorder, as opposed to the 1 percent chance of the general population.

But schizophrenia is only influenced by genetics, not determined by it. While schizophrenia runs in families, about 60% of schizophrenics have no family members with the disorder. Furthermore, individuals who are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia don’t always develop the disease, which shows that biology is not destiny.

As for the environmental factors involved, more and more research is pointing to stress, either during pregnancy or at a later stage of development. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenia by increasing the body’s production of the hormone cortisol.

Research points to several stress-inducing environmental factors that may be involved in schizophrenia, including prenatal exposure to a viral infection, low oxygen levels during birth (from prolonged labor or premature birth), exposure to a virus during infancy, early parental loss or separation, physical or sexual abuse in childhood etc.

Truly speaking, I have seen people with those symptoms in my school and community but what seems to amaze me is the way it is defined or perhaps diagnosed and then treated. In most cases, it is linked with witchcraft as the diagnosis (as funny as it sounds)  and then divine intervention is the cure. Not that I doubt the cure, but the diagnosis is definitely hilarious. The said cure is justified since our hospitals and asylums literally fail to treat such diseases.

So it is now clear that Schizophrenia is not rare but ignored. Is it because it is hardly diagnosed in our archaic hospitals or because religion is more powerful in Africa that in any other parts of the world? One really tends to wonder. Funny thing is that most of these now famous religions which are used as means of some disease treatments/cures were introduced by westerners, whom in this modern day have better scientific ways of diagnosis and treatment.

 

Nuclear Power and its effect to health and the environment.

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Nuclear power, which is now a famous energy source in most developed countries also comes with a price. As sophisticated and efficient as it sounds or perceived to be, it has more disadvantages than advantages to both the environment and health of both flora and fauna. Honestly, I am glad it is a development that is being ignored in my country.

First things first, nuclear energy is not renewable. With that being said, I personally think that if an energy type is said to be efficient at this day and age it should at least be renewable. In that way we will be certain of risks being minimised. 

Radioactive SignThe principal risks associated with nuclear power arise from health effects of radiation. This radiation consists of subatomic particles travelling at or near the velocity of light—186,000 miles per second. They can penetrate deep inside the human body where they can damage biological cells and thereby initiate a cancer. If they strike sex cells, they can cause genetic diseases in progeny.

There is also no safe way to mine, store, or process nuclear materials. Even though energy moguls claim that nuclear energy is safe, the truth is that there is no guaranteed safe means for containment of nuclear materials. The risk of an accident and exposure increase exponentially through each step in the process of mining, transportation, storage, refinement, and use or nuclear power which then leaves you with enormous amounts of nuclear waste that must be contained and disposed of. Every step of this process carries great risk for the environment and the community.

Nuclear power technology produces materials that are active in emitting radiation and are therefore called radioactive. These materials can come into contact with people principally through small releases during routine plant operation, accidents in nuclear power plants, accidents in transporting radioactive materials, and escape of radioactive wastes from confinement systems. Since natural radiation is estimated to cause about 1% of all cancers, radiation due to nuclear technology should eventually increase our cancer risk by 0.002% (one part in 50,000), reducing our life expectancy by less than one hour.

Exposure to the radioactive material can be deadly, causing health problems and cancer. Through the history of nuclear disasters we have had a living lab to see the numbers of deaths caused by nuclear power plants along with infertility, health problems, and deadly cancers among people in communities even far away from the original site. Now, can we say that we want to develop in to a new form of energy (non-renewable of course) that is radio active and can put humans under the risk of cancer? It’s not worth it.

Another downside with nuclear power to the environment  is that it also contaminates water supplies amongst other equally harmful nuclear disadvantages. Cases of water contamination with radioactive substances has occurred around over a dozen different nuclear sites in countries such as the United States and Japan . The process of mining materials used in nuclear power plants such as uranium and titanium run a very high risk of water contamination to near by rivers and streams as well as ground water supplies. This then affects any living organism that uses the water polluted as the organisms will be exposed to severe nuclear radiation.

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Raw uranium.

Uranium, which must be removed from the ground, is used to fuel nuclear reactors.  Uranium mining, which creates serious health and environmental problems, has disproportionately impacted indigenous people because much of the world’s uranium is located under indigenous land.  Uranium miners experience higher rates of lung cancer, tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases. The production of 1,000 tons of uranium fuel generates approximately 100,000 tons of radioactive tailings and nearly one million gallons of liquid waste containing heavy metals and arsenic in addition to radioactivity.  These uranium tailings have contaminated rivers and lakes. A new method of uranium mining, known as on-site leaching, does not produce tailings but it does threaten contamination of groundwater water supplies.

Nuclear is not a good energy source a it has more risks than advantages. Better energy sources like solar energy are  supposed to be explored instead of money being wasted on nuclear energy as it is also expensive. I think scientists on the century are more reluctant and want to take the easy way out when it comes to scientific research. The same amount of money and effort put in the creation of Nuclear power stations should be the same when it comes to promoting renewable energy sources. That can save the earth.

 

 

EMFs, Microwaves, LCDs, CRTs and Health

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Computers and cellphones emit a complex mixture of different types and frequencies of EMFs (Electro Magnetic Fields). One of the biggest and growing concerns now is the widespread use of Wi-Fi and wireless computer hardware. Many computer products are made with wireless installed, and sometimes, even if you think they are off, the hardware is still emitting.

Such emissions are the result of skin cancers and tumours (mostly brain tumours) mostly caused by phones. Before I go any further, please note that this blog is not meant to scare your hand off of your cellphone or computer but to make sure you reduce the use of using gadgets that emit EMFs and microwaves. So, relax and read on how to reduce harm from your daily use of electronic gadgets.

The effect EMFs have on the brain.
The effect EMFs have on the brain.

Cell phones tend to cause the greatest exposures to RF/microwaves radiation for most people, and especially for the brain. The trick is, how to shield the user from the phone’s EMF signal, but yet allow that same EMF signal to reach the nearest cell tower? Practically speaking, this is difficult, and many advertised products are not very helpful. The safest choice is to severely limit and reduce the time spent on cell phones and computers. Even if the long distance minutes are “free,” consider that an increased risk of brain tumor is not. Here are your choices, in descending order of effectiveness: (1) Don’t use it. (2) Keep it off, and only use it for emergencies and very short calls. (3) Use it only on a speaker phone, don’t hold it, put it down on something and back away. (4) Preferably use an “air tube” (stethoscope) type of hands-free kit, because typical hands-free kits allow the radiation to conduct up the metal wire to the ear.

Some research studies are showing similar health risks, including brain cancer, from the use of cordless phones as well as cell phones. The RF/microwaves emitted from cordless telephones are similar to cell phones, except that the exposure levels are somewhat lower. However, the base cradles for many cordless phones emit an RF signal constantly, even when the phone is not in use! Similar to cell phones, the best alternative is to severely limit the use of cordless phones. Best is to unplug them and use only land-line hard-wired telephones when possible. If you do want to keep connected , by substituting. If you do use a cordless phone, it would be prudent to test with an RF meter to see if the base cradle is emitting all the time, or only when used. To reduce exposure, it is recommended the same 4 steps given above for cell phones.

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Use only hard-wired connections, and no wireless devices, to help reduce the exposure to microwaves. It is recommended that you test with an RF meter to confirm that all components are indeed not emitting any RF wireless signals. Move all computer hardware, such as the CPU and printer, as far away from your body as possible. That jumble of electrical cords near your feet can be a strong EMF source. Move these farther away, and even better, they can be shielded and grounded. LCD flat screen monitors generally emit much lower EMF levels than the old CRT (big TV tube type) monitors. Finally, check to make sure that the electrical power outlet for your computer is properly grounded, or the electric fields will be greatly increased.

Now, the main thing to note is that your electronic gadgets such as cellphones are not as safe as we think they are. It is advised to also keep electrical gadgets from young children as it can have long-term effects on them.

EMFs are harmful to little children
EMFs are harmful to little children

Litter Heads Up

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It so happens that last week I did an anti-litter campaign on behalf of the Bulawayo City Council, with my colleagues of course (you can never do a campaign alone).

What I realised was that littering in Bulawayo is like second nature to everyone. It is now perceived normal to litter and everyone, including suited business men litter. What is this world turning to? I was quite surprised when I saw a very respectable man, driving a BMW 320i, opening his window and throwing out a medium pizza box into the street. As surprised as I was, I looked around, saw that people who were round also noticed but were unperturbed about what had just occurred.

This led me to realise that littering in Bulawayo has been occurring on a regular basis that people even appear to see it as normal. Is that a good thing? Do we blame the city council or the residents? The answer to that is quite clear.

Firstly, littering is not a good thing, everyone knows that littering is bad but still they do it. Did you know that it is against the law to litter? You can get a $20 fine just for throwing away your 0.50c glucose biscuits paper on the street.

As scary as it sounds, it is sad news (or great news for litter bugs) to know that people can pay a fine for littering but then to discover that no one has been said to have paid that fine. Do we blame the City council for implementing something that is not enforced?

In as much as I blame the city council for not working with the police in enforcing laws set against littering, I blame people as well. Who in their correct senses would litter? Where is the pride? People lack motivation on not to litter. It only takes few people to make a difference.

It may start in the families, it may start in the communities. Working together can bring about change and a safer, cleaner environment.

Bulawayo was one of the cleanest cities in Africa. I guess our old people knew how to take care of where they lived. We have failed our parents and grandparents by allowing the perpetuation of littering. It is up to us the youth to work towards achieving that status again.

This blog about litter in Bulawayo will be one of many that are to follow. If people are encouraged not to litter on a regular basis, there can be a significant change.