Category Archives: Health Awareness Blogs

Indiscriminate use of Plastic Bottles for storing Food & Water is causing serious health ailments, say experts

Several renowned and experienced doctors from leading hospitals as well as research studies conducted by international bodies, have cautioned and warned against consuming food and drinking items which are packaged or wrapped in plastic bottles & containers:

1. Dr. Avi Kumar, Consultant Pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute:

According to him, “plastic is everywhere; it has subtly become an inherent part of our life. Easy to access, we eat and drink out of plastic containers, and even store and wrap our food in it. Cheap and durable plastics are held together by a number of chemicals which are potential carcinogens. Two of these are bisphenol-A (known as BPA) and phthalates.

BPA has the potential to disturb and upset the endocrine system, the metabolic functioning, kidneys and cause extensive damage and diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Phthalates cause a number of issues such as reproductive malformations, developmental disorders, and problems with the pulmonary system resulting in asthma and allergies and direct toxicity.

2. Prof. (Dr) L. Sreenivasamurthy, Consultant Physician and Diabetologist, Apollo Hospitals:

According to him, people are exposed to these chemicals not only during manufacturing, but also by using plastic packages, because some chemicals migrate from the plastic packaging to the foods they contain. When plastic properties find their way to our cells, they can cause diseases such as osteoporosis, thyroid cancer, hypo- and hypertension, Addison’s disease, Cushing’s syndrome, low testosterone and obesity.

He recommended, “Buy food in glass or metal containers, avoid polycarbonate drinking bottles with Bisphenol A (BPA), avoid heating food in plastic containers, and storing fatty foods in plastic containers or plastic wrap,” adding that young children should not be given plastic toys, and all PVC and Styrene products should be avoided.

3. Dr Aswati Nair, Fertility Consultant, NOVA IVI Fertility, Delhi:

Dr. Nair points out that it can lead to infertility in both men and women. “In men, exposure to chemicals in plastics is bound to affect their fertility in two ways – DNA fragmentation of the sperm and lower sperm count. As in case of women, exposure to BPA while in the womb can cause early onset of puberty and increase the infant’s risk of prostate or breast cancer as an adult. It may also affect the future fertility levels of a female fetus.

Bisphenol A which is an active component in plastic materials can be accounted for nearly 20 percent of the cases of unexplainable infertility in both men and women combined.”

4. Dr. Alfonso Abizaid, Department of Neuroscience, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada: 

Based on their research on mice, Dr. Abizaid said that “Since BPA has also been linked to obesity in humans, people need to be aware that environmental factors can lead to increased susceptibility to obesity and cardio-metabolic disorders.”

According to a study conducted by The Endocrine Society based in Washington DC, pregnant women drinking from plastic water bottles could be driving up their risk of having obese babies. The researchers found that the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone disruptor, is linked to an unborn child’s increased risk of obesity. When the child is exposed to BPA, they become less sensitive to a hormone responsible for controlling appetite.

As per the NYU Langone report released in October 2016, plastic bottles contain hormone-disrupting chemicals that can cause cancer, diabetes, ADHD, autism and loss of IQ among other neurological illnesses. Yet they are found in thousands of everyday products, ranging from plastic and metal food containers, to detergents, flame retardants, toys and cosmetics. These chemicals are responsible for scores of illnesses – costing the US an astonishing $340 billion in health-related costs each year, claimed the report.

Sources:

  1. Article dated 14th Jun, 2019 in Indianexpress.com. Click here
  2. Article dated 8th Feb, 2017 in food.ndtv.com. Click here
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Suitability of Utensils for Cooking and storage of Food & Drinking items

Now a days, due to our hectic worklife, fast-paced lifestyles and paucity of time, it is our constant endeavour to save as much time and effort as possible for all cooking and storage purposes through the use of modern cheaper utensils which expedite the process, are easy to clean and maintain, travel with, and resistant to breakage. However, many of these cooking utensils and storage vessels can have adverse and serious health side-effects in the long term.

We are usually very particular about what we cook and the kind of ingredients that go into it, however, we often tend to ignore what metals and chemicals are used in the process of making the utensils we cook or store food in.

It is very important to know that the below mentioned cooking utensils and storage vessels should be avoided, whose toxic ingredients can seep or melt into the food and drinking items and adversely effect the hormonal balance of the body, as well as cause life threatening diseases, thereby, posing a serious risk to your family’s health in the near and long term:

1. Non-Stick Cookware:

Non-stick pots and pans have become quote popular because of their affordability, light-weight nature and their ease of cooking in. People also opt for non-stick cookware as they require less oil or fat to cook with. However, non-stick cookware is coated with poly tetra fluoro ethylene, or Teflon – a chemical made up of carbon and fluorine atoms, which, when heated at high temperatures (260 degrees) can enter into the food, causing harm to the body. In case you do use non-stick cookware, avoid cooking on high heat, or pre-heating the pan, as this causes the pan to heat up faster. Also use only wooden or silicone spatula as metal spoons can scrape the surface of the cookware, causing the Teflon coating to come off. But its just safer to avoid any usage of non-stick cookware altogether, as their associated potential health risks far outweigh any advantages.

2. Aluminium:

Aluminium is used extensively because of its easy availability and cheaper cost. However, aluminium vessels, especially if old and scratched, can cause the metal to leach into food. Studies suggest that moderate volumes are enough to cause toxicity or health problems, and it is best to avoid it. The longer the food is kept or cooked in the aluminium utensil, the more Aluminium enters into the food. This is also the case while cooking acidic food such as tomatoes and vinegar. Also, avoid usage of aluminium foils to keep food warm.

3. Plastic:

As per a recent study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International, an average person eats about 5 grams of plastic every week (the equivalent of eating a credit card). The scientists reported that drinking a lot of bottled water drastically increased the particles consumed. The bottled water contains 22 times more microplastic than tap water on average. A person who only drank bottled water would consume 130,000 particles per year from that source alone, the researchers said, compared with 4,000 from tap water. Ingesting microplastic can have serious side effects, as they could release toxic substances such as bisphenol-A (known as BPA) and phthalates, which are potential carcinogens. Some pieces are small enough to penetrate human tissues, where they could trigger immune reactions and disrupt the hormonal balance as well.

Let us also look at the cookware utensils and storage vessels that are usually safe to use under normal circumstances:

1. Cast iron pot:

The cast iron kadhai in your grandmother’s kitchen may be your best bet when it comes to cooking food. Though not a cure for anaemia, cooking in iron utensils can help up the iron quotient in your food. Further, cast iron pots have a longer shelf life, and you can use it without worrying about the pot getting scratched or flaking off. The amount of iron that is transferred to your body, however, depends on the cooking time and your body’s ability to absorb iron. Over time, cast iron pots also can get covered with a layer of oil, this lowers the amount of iron that is passed on to food.

2. Stainless steel:

Easy to maintain, durable and easy to clean, stainless steel pots and pans are also safe options to cook food in. Stainless steel is an alloy of different metals such as iron, carbon, nickel and chromium, which when combined in the correct proportions, make the metal stronger and more durable. You need to, however, be careful about the amount of nickel and chromium in the composition as stainless steel cookware is sometimes polished with the metals to add shine, and the high amounts can leach into the food. While selecting stainless steel cookware, opt for those with a 304 grade. This means that it is comprised of not more than 0.8 per cent carbon and at least 50 per cent iron. You can also choose an 18/10 composition, with 18 per cent referring to chromium and 10 per cent to nickel. It is also best to replace any pan which has deep scratches in it as this can cause the metals to leach into your food.

3. Glass:

People often avoid using glass cookware because of the fear of it breaking. However, it is, in fact, safe to use as it’s non-reactive nature. The fact that it does not absorb any nutrients from food, also makes it ideal for cooking in. However, it is difficult to use glass cookware while cooking Indian food as you cannot place it over the stove. But they are excellent for storing food and drinking items.

4. Copper:

According to Ayurveda, it is healthy to store water overnight in a copper vessel and drink from it in the morning. Copper is also a good metal to cook food in, as it has the quality to retain heat for a longer period. A team of researchers from the University of Southampton, England, has also found out that using copper pots reduces the risk of contamination from deadly bacteria such as E.Coli. This is because, on copper, the bacteria survive only for four hours. However, it is best to avoid cooking acidic food in copper as the chances of the metal leaching into food could be higher, which, can cause copper toxicity if ingested in high volumes.

5. Clay pot:

Ayurveda also recommends the use of clay – a material that has been traditionally used since the olden days for cooking and storing water. Being naturally alkaline, clay interacts with the acidity in food, neutralising it and balancing the pH levels, thereby making food healthier. The porous nature of clay also ensures that moisture and heat circulate through the food, which helps to retain nutrients and reduces the need to use more oil and fat while cooking. Clay is also inherently high on nutrition, as it contains calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and sulphur. However, while selecting clay pots, make sure that you choose unglazed, decoration-free cookware, otherwise, they may contain lead, mercury and other harmful substances. Also, while cooking in a clay pot, always place the clay pot on a wooden or heat resistant surface and avoid sudden extreme temperatures as this may cause the clay pot to crack.

Last but not the least, whenever in doubt, trust your grandparents wisdom and kitchen utensils, be it cast iron pots or glass jars and bottles. Yes, they may be a little costlier, more time consuming to use, difficult to clean and maintain, and prone to breakage, but in many cases, they are also the secret of their enviable good health and longevity. And the resulting health benefits to your family are definitely worth the extra time, money, & effort.

Sources:

  1. Article dated 24th Sep, 2019 on yahoo.com. Click here
  2. Article dated 5th Jun, 2019 on theguardian.com. Click here
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Alert: Cancer causing ASBESTOS & Formaldehyde traces found in J&J Baby Talc Powder & SHAMPOO

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has long been the undisputed leader in baby product sales and has always tried to portray itself as a gentle, safe, and caring company. But the recent reports from Reuters in Dec 2018 about its baby talc powder suggested otherwise. The report indicates that small amounts of asbestos have been lurking in some of the company’s talc — the substance that makes baby powder powdery — going back to the 1970s. The company allegedly didn’t openly communicate results, and at times purposely hid them, to both consumers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

J&J is still being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission after questions surfaced about the safety of the company’s baby powder. The investigation started after a Reuters report that suggested based on the internal documents of J&J that the company knew for several decades that its baby powder contained small amounts of asbestos (which is a known human carcinogen), though they kept claiming publicly “Zero tolerance for Asbestos“. The reason there could be asbestos in baby powder is that one of the primary ingredients is talc: a natural mineral that’s often found and mined near asbestos. “To prevent contamination of talc with asbestos, it is essential to select talc mining sites carefully and take steps to purify the ore sufficiently,” the FDA says on its website.

Now, J&J has once again come under the scanner of Indian health authorities after Rajasthan’ s Drug Controller found that its “No More Tears” baby shampoo samples were found to contain harmful ingredient Formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), based on the samples tested between 16 and 28 February, 2019, though J&J has disputed these test findings. According to reports, the Drug Control Organization asked State Drug Controllers across India to withdraw available stocks of J&J’s baby shampoo from the market.

It’s important to mention here that in 2014, New York Times reported, J&J’s baby shampoo no longer contained two potentially harmful chemicals, formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. J&J vowed to remove both chemicals from its baby products by the end of 2013, and in 2014, it said that it had met its goal. But the latest test reports put a big question mark over J&J’s claims made over 5 years ago.

Though J&J has denied the government test results of presence of Formaldehyde in their baby shampoo, and claimed that all its products are safe, but the chain of recent events surrounding their allegedly inferior quality products do not inspire a lot of confidence.

J&J is facing over 13,000 talc related lawsuits in USA , most of which relate to ovarian cancer among women and mesothelioma who have used J&J baby shampoo in the past. The number of lawsuits against J&J are expected to continue increasing in 2019 and beyond. Some of the ovarian cancer verdicts have been overturned on appeal on technical legal grounds, while the company’s other appeals are still pending.

In July 2018, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer. The company tried to get the award reversed, but a judge denied that request and upheld the jury’s decision and award.

In Jan 2019, J&J reported paid over $1.5 million to a women to settle a case outside court, who claimed to have contracted mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, from using J&J products. Even as recently as March 2019, Johnson & Johnson took the unusual step of settling out of court three women’s claims that its talc-based products caused their asbestos-linked cancers rather than let juries decide the case, potentially opening a new front in the growing litigation against the world’s largest maker of health-care products. Still, J&J continues to deny that its products contain any asbestos.

Imerys Talc America (the U.S. unit of French group Imerys SA),  a key supplier of talc used in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday in the wake of multi billion-dollar lawsuits alleging its products caused ovarian cancer and asbestos-related mesothelioma. Imerys officials said that it filed for bankruptcy because it lacks the financial clout to defend against nearly 15,000 lawsuits over its talc mineral product.

Even Johnson & Johnson’s hip faulty and defective hip implants left 4,000 people in the lurch and the government is still trying to get the company to pay compensation to all those adversely affected. Two Expert Committees were formed under the Chairmanship of Dr. Arun Kumar Agarwal and Dr. RK Arya. While the Agarwal Committee examined the issues relating to faulty ASR hip implants, the Arya Committee determined the quantum of compensation. The formula is based on the percentage of disability, age factor, and risk factor, and was accepted by the Government of India, as per a press released dated November 29, 2018.

Applying the formula, the patients suffering due to faulty hip implants would get upto ₹1.2 crore each and an additional ₹10 lakh for “non-pecuniary” losses. J&J has contested the Centre’s jurisdiction in deciding the compensation, but today on April 8, 2019, it informed the Delhi High Court of its willingness to pay Rs.25 lacs each as compensation to patients affected by its faulty Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip implants.

Analysing the above instances of inferior quality products of one multinational giant, it is very clear that:

  1. Such billion dollar companies promote their products through multiple media ads (newspapers, television, social media, etc.) and do not disclose or purposely hide the harmful ingredients of their products and cheat customers in their unending selfish bid to capture higher market share and grow their profits.
  2. The gullible and non-suspecting customers get easily influenced and swayed by the attractive marketing campaigns and catchy taglines and visual advertisements run by such companies across all platforms, as they are unaware of the serious health repercussions and long term side-effects of such products.
  3. Though the company continues to deny any quality claims in their products, the recent court judgements and even the outside court settlements clearly implicate the company in such cases, and expose the harsh reality of their products side-effects.
  4. Many (but not all) of these international branded products for cosmetic and hygiene use artificial ingredients and harmful chemicals, and incidence of certain types of cancers is very high in Western countries due to their indiscriminate use despite strict FDA guidelines being in place and courts taking strong action in case of any non-disclosure by companies.
  5. Now, these companies are fast expanding their presence in India and luring unsuspecting customers with their attractive marketing and star brand endorsements, however, the Indian government and customers need to be extra vigilant and careful especially as the safety norms and court processes in our country are comparatively very lax and inefficient. The natural products traditionally used for centuries in our country are much more safe and effective, and without any of the side-effects of these western artificial products (such as cancers, tumors, etc.).

Sources:

  1. Article in NYtimes.com dated Jul 12, 2018 (Click here)
  2. Article in Chemicalwatch.com dated Jan 9, 2019 (Click here)
  3. Article in Reuters dated Feb 13, 2019 (Click here)
  4. Article in Businessinsider.in dated Feb 22, 2019 (Click here)
  5. Article in Livemint.com dated Mar 28, 2019 (Click here)
  6. Article in Business-Standard.com dated April 1, 2019 (Click here)
  7. Article in BarandBench.com dated April 8, 2019 (Click here)

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Harmful Oxytocin hormone injections being misused to enhance cattle milk production and increase the size of vegetables & fruits despite ban

Oxytocin is a hormone classified as a Schedule H drug, and the Food & Consumable Substances Adulteration Act, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and the Drug Control Laws ban the sale of this restricted drug without prescription from a registered medical practitioner, as its indiscriminate use can cause serious side effects.

ILLEGAL & RAMPANT MISUSE OF THE OXYTOCIN HORMONE:

As per the findings of a report based on assessment of health and living conditions of 25,000 cattle in 450 dairies, spanning 10 of the country’s top milk producing states (Delhi, Punjab, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Tamil Nadu), nearly 55% of dairy owners allowed their sick animals to be milked.  “Illegal use of Oxytocin to increase the milk let down is a common occurrence in 46.9% dairies,” says the report prepared by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO). “Dairy owners use it in excessive quantities (3 to 4 ml.)”

  • The misuse of Oxytocin injections is widespread in the dairy industry where it is used to make cattle/livestock release higher quantity of milk at a time convenient to the farmers.
  • This hormone injection is also used to increase the size and improve the shape of vegetables and fruits such as pumpkins, watermelons, brinjals, gourds and cucumbers.
  • The misuse of this growth promoting drug is also reported in cases where small girls are illegally trafficked and abused for the purpose of prostitution, and this hormonal drug is injected to ensure girls attain puberty sooner, as early as 10 years of age.

According to a old report published by Dr. R P Parashar, president of DAV Research Society, 82% of cattle breeders use Oxytocin injections for forcefully milking cows & buffaloes in Delhi; 68% of cattle breeders were using these injections in adjoining areas of Delhi – Sonipat, Rohtak, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Gohana, Bahadurgarh, Loni; and 32% from remote areas of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

SIDE-EFFECTS OF OXYTOCIN HORMONE ON HUMANS:

Over time, consumption of cattle milk, vegetables and fruits injected with oxytocin injections can cause harmful side-effects in humans including among others:

  1. Hormonal disorders such as premature puberty & weight gain in females, and lack of testosterone and gynaecomastia (breast enlargement) in males,
  2. Foetal damage (physical deformities in unborn child) & abortion risk in pregnant women and excessive blood loss during delivery,
  3. Poor eyesight and hearing loss among children especially the new born babies,
  4. Erratic heart rate, mood swings, fatigue/tiredness and weakened immunity against diseases and infections

“The injected oxytocin reaches the human body through consumption of milk or any other dairy product causing several side effects on all. This is one of the reasons for early onset of puberty among girls, development of breast in male and lack of testosterone production due to hormonal imbalance. Milk adulterated with oxytocin should be avoided by pregnant women as it may lead to abortion and babies may be born with deformities. It increases the risk of haemorrhage in mothers after birth and can also inhibit breastfeeding”, as per Dr. Arvind Vaid, Chief Infertility and IVF Specialist, Indira IVF Hospital, New Delhi.

OXYTOCIN MISUSE IS A MAJOR COUNTRY WIDE PROBLEM:

The misuse of Oxytocin injections continues to be a major pan-India issue, and is not just limited to any one particular region or state:

  • Around 80,000 bottles of Oxytocin were recovered from 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh during FDA raids at dairies, medical stores, and general stores in 2010.
  • During 2014-2017, Hyderabad Police seized several hundred bottles of Oxytocin which were being supplied and used for injecting into buffaloes for more milk production.
  • In Delhi, 61 cartons of Oxytocin injections worth Rs 13 lakh were seized in 2015 from the New Delhi railway station.
  • In Maharashtra, 290 Oxytocin bottles were seized from a milk producer and dealer in Dec 2017 costing Rs. 73,000/-.
  • Several hundred bottles of Oxytocin were seized from Rajasthan and an illegal manufacturing unit producting Oxytocin injections was unearthed in Jaipur as recently as last month in Apr 2018.

In 2013, Mid-day conducted a 2-month long investigation to expose how cattle in most tabelas are artificially injected with Oxytocin hormone twice everyday. Despite the government ban, it is being supplied secretly to tabelas in western suburbs.

NEW STEPS TAKEN BY GOVT. TO CURB MISUSE OF OXYTOCIN:

As part of its renewed efforts to check the misuse of Oxytocin, the Union Ministry of Health has now taken some belated but very welcome steps based on recommendations of CDSCO (Central Drug Standard Control Organization) and DTAB (Drug Technical Advisory Board) in Apr 2018:

  1. It has restricted Oxytocin manufacture for domestic use to public sector only, amid concerns about the clandestine manufacture and sale of drug to dairies & farmers.
  2. It has banned all the imports of Oxytocin and its formulations for human as well as animal use with immediate effect.
  3. It has also accepted a DTAB recommendation to ensure that all oxytocin products should display bar-codes to ensure tracking and traceability of the drug vials and curb its misuse.
  4. It has banned the sale of formulations with oxytocin through retail chemists, believed to be misused in the dairy sector.
  5. The manufacturers are now required to restrict the supply of drug formulations for human use to registered hospitals & clinics, and to government-run medical stores only.

FORMULATING RULES IS NOT ENOUGH. WHAT NEXT?

A pharmacist selling Oxytocin over the counter without a prescription can lose his licence. Shopkeepers caught selling the hormone and dairy owners using it on cattle can be imprisoned for upto 2 years. But these laws exist only on paper. Dairies, are using the drug with impunity, and without prescriptions, having obtained it from private suppliers.

The manufacture, sale and distribution of Oxytocin are well described under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945. However, strong enforcement of these rules of law by the central govt., state authorities and drug controllers is needed urgently to check its indiscriminate misuse:

  • Stricter vigilance across the country for clandestinely operating Oxytocin manufacturing facilities and the drug suppliers/dealers.
  • Regular monitoring/inspection of medical stores by Central and State drug authorities to ensure no sale without prescription.
  • Strongly enforcing mandatory registration requirement for any dairy to operate, and penalizing the unregistered ones.
  • Surprise monthly checks on all dairies and horticulture zones to check for any unwarranted presence of oxytocin vials and injections, and stringent crackdown on any illegal usage.

“We asked states to take strict action, including criminal action, against people found to be illegally manufacturing, storing or selling the drug. It is extremely harmful to produce the medicine in a non-sterile condition,” said a senior official in CDSCO. 

It remains to be seen whether the central and state government authorities and drug controllers can follow-up on their action plan. At FindMediGo, we do hope that the govt. will enforce it seriously.

Sources:

  1. Article published in Mid-day dated Jun 11, 2013. Click here
  2. Oxytocin, Functions, Uses & Abuses dated Apr 1-17, 2016. Click here
  3. Article published in TOI dated Jul 6, 2017. Click here
  4. Article published in HT dated Jul 14, 2017. Click here
  5. Article published in Hindu dated Oct 24, 2017. Click here
  6. Article published in Uniindia.com dated Dec 1, 2017. Click here
  7. Article published in Deccan Chronicle dated Dec 27, 2017. Click here
  8. Article published in TOI dated Mar 6, 2018. Click here
  9. Article published in Mondaq.com dated Mar 15, 2018. Click here
  10. Article published in ET dated Apr 27, 2018. Click here
  11. Article published in Telegraph India dated Apr 28, 2018. Click here
  12. Article published in TOI dated Apr 29, 2018. Click here
  13. Article published in the2is.com. Click here

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Share of diesel car sales declining in India except SUVs

The share of diesel cars in hatchbacks and sedans has fallen to under a quarter, which means that more than three cars out of every four sold are now run on petrol. As per estimates, the share of diesel in car sales (hatchbacks and sedans, excluding SUVs) has fallen to 23%, coming down from a high of nearly 47% in 2012-13. The numbers are even more encouraging as the trend comes at a time when pollution figures have been at alarming levels across many Indian cities and there have been calls for controlling vehicular emissions, especially from diesel ones.
The trend has been stark for some of the biggest car manufacturing companies when it comes to small cars/hatchbacks and sedans:
  • Honda Cars India has seen the share of diesel in overall sales shrink from 67% in 2013-14 to just about 25% at the end of 2016-17. Honda City sedan, which had 60% of sales coming from diesel in 2014, now gets only 20% of its volumes from the diesel fuel.
  • The same is the case for some of the models of Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest carmaker. For example, diesel variant of Ciaz sedan now accounts for 30% of sales as against 60% just some time back. However, diesel still remains strong for Maruti as some models such as Brezza mini SUV do not have a petrol variant.

The trend is only going to get stronger, say company executives who are now preparing for a life beyond diesel as the government pushes for cleaner technologies where the current focus is on electric drive trains.

As per Maruti chairman R C Bhargava, the trend is only going to get stronger, at least in the passenger cars segment. “I don’t see a big play (for diesel). The market does not like diesel. I expect its share to come down.” “Diesel is losing ground now, and the shift is quite pronounced,” as per Rakesh Srivastava, director (sales & marketing) at Hyundai India. (both as quoted in TOI)

There are several factors behind the trend of declining sales of diesel hatchbacks and sedans:
  1. Narrowing gap between petrol and diesel fuel prices: With the difference between petrol and diesel fuel narrowing down, many people now prefer to opt for petrol versions. Against a gap of Rs 27 around the middle of 2012, the difference in the retail price of petrol and diesel fuel has narrowed down to only ~Rs 10 now.
  2. Expensive Maintenance: Diesel cars, while giving higher fuel efficiency, require more expensive servicing and regular maintenance when compared to their petrol versions.
  3. Higher Acquisition Cost: The higher maintenance comes at the top of an already expensive acquisition cost  as diesel variants are priced higher than their petrol versions, by at least Rs 1 lakh. Since diesel powered cars are costlier than petrols, buyers need to drive diesels for much longer distances to make up for the higher initial cost.
  4. Lower registration period for diesel vehicles:  In Delhi/NCR and certain other regions,  courts have banned diesel cars older than 10 years, reducing resale value of older diesel cars. This uncertainty over the future of diesels is another factor pushing customers towards petrols.
  5. Dangerous Emission Levels: Diesel cars have also been in the spotlight for emission scandals, and customers, who’re now more environment conscious, are avoiding diesels.  The awareness levels about the dangerous emissions of diesel vehicles is still low, but increasing gradually due to media spotlight and court actions.

The only challenge to the trend, however, remains the rising share of  SUVs in the country, where nearly 7 out of 10 buyers opt for diesel powered ones. Diesel is traditionally the preferred choice in SUVs, though the mindset towards petrol is also finding some strength here. Take for example the Creta SUV where more than 30% of sales are coming from petrol version.  In case of many SUVs, the only reason buyers opt for diesels is the lack of availability of petrols. This is expected to change fast as many automakers are introducing petrol engines on SUVs as well. More stringent actions are needed by government and courts to curb sale of Diesel SUVs, which cause 25-65 times more pollution than petrol small cars.

Sources:

  1. Article published in TOI dated Jan 3, 2018. Click here
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Sales of 14 Steroid based creams restricted by Health Ministry due to indiscriminate use as fairness creams, but the core issues remain unaddressed

Health Ministry of India has now banned over-the-counter sales of 14 topical preparations containing steroids and antibiotics without prescription, owing to their indiscriminate promotion and use as fairness creams, but the problem is far from being resolved.

The creams which have been banned are alclometasone, beclomethasone, desonide, desoximetasone, flucinonide, halobetasone, methylpredinsone, priedincarbte and triancinolon acetonide among others. From now onwards, the pharmacists caught selling such banned creams and ointments over-the-counter without prescription are liable to be punished by the drug controller.

However, several pertinent issues remain unaddressed notwithstanding this token ban on sales of OTC steroidal creams:

BAN IMPLEMENTATION & ENFORCEMENT ISSUES:

  • Despite the ban on over-the-counter sales of these steroid based creams, it is still not implemented and effectively enforced at the ground level as large majority of pharmacy stores in India continue to sell Schedule H Drug Medicines without any medical prescription.
  • Many companies continue to illegally promote sales and indiscriminate use of such dangerous creams by incentivising pharmacists and misguiding common people to maximize their sales and profits, irrespective of the harm caused to public health.
  • India’s pharmaceutical regulator has approved at least 18 different corticosteroids for topical skin use, ranging from mild to super-potent. These usually cost less than Rs 100 a tube.
  • General public is largely unaware of the meaning of Schedule H Drug, that these drugs and creams can cause serious and long-term side-effects, if taken without proper guidance of a doctor.
  • Furthermore, only around 35% of pharmacies have a legitimate pharmacist on staff, so there is often no one to counsel the buyer on appropriate dosage and use of the cream.

And the most serious underlying cause here is the blatant and unethical promotion by the MNCs & celebrities of fairness of the skin as a measure of the superiority, attractiveness, calibre, confidence levels & self-worth, as well as job and marriage prospects of the individual in our country, which has been going on for several decades without any controls being put in place by successive governments to check such misleading ads of ‘fairness’, ‘whitening’ & ‘skin-lightening’ creams.

“[Pharmacies] dispense them like boxes of cookies. The drug companies know this is a drug and it’s not supposed to be used to lighten constitutive skin. But they label them with suggestive names like Skin Bright, Skin Light, Skin Shine, Look Bright.” as per Dr Shyamanta Barua, a dermatologist and honorary secretary general of the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists & Leprologists (as quoted in mosaicscience.com).

Continue reading Sales of 14 Steroid based creams restricted by Health Ministry due to indiscriminate use as fairness creams, but the core issues remain unaddressed

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Diesel SUV causes 25-65 times more pollution than a small Petrol car, as per a study shared by CSE

As per an international study, testing on-road emissions of passenger cars in India, a diesel-run SUV may be emitting between 25 to 65 times more NOx, a harmful gaseous pollutant, than a small petrol car, says Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

“This means that in terms of NOx emissions, adding one XUV diesel SUV to the city’s car fleet is equal to adding 25 to 65 small petrol cars,” said a CSE statement, highlighting major public health implications. Diesel exhaust has been graded as Class 1 carcinogen by WHO and Nitrogen Oxide is a very harmful gas that also forms deadly ozone.

The study, Laboratory and On-Road Emission Testing of In-use Passenger Vehicles in India‘, was undertaken by International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) – an Indian vehicle-testing agency, and US-based International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) – that had exposed Volkswagen manipulating emission levels in the US. The cars were tested first in laboratories and then with portable emission monitoring equipment, while being driven in and around Delhi.

As per CSE, the not-for-profit organisation, the findings assume significance as the country’s existing Pollution Under Control (PUC) certification system does not measure gaseous and particulate emissions from diesel vehicles on road, and diesel SUVs are among the fastest growing segments in the passenger vehicle category.

Continue reading Diesel SUV causes 25-65 times more pollution than a small Petrol car, as per a study shared by CSE

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High levels of toxins including ARSENIC & LEAD found in ground water in 9 districts of Western U.P.

The quality of ground water in 9 districts of Western U.P.  is extremely poor, and contains very high levels of toxic elements such as Arsenic & Lead, and a high level of total dissolved solids, according to a Delhi based environmentalist, Shailesh Singh. He based his conclusions on replies to RTI queries as well as government documents, as quoted by a TOI article.

The affected nine districts in Western U.P. are Gautam Budh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Bijnor, Rampur, Aligarh, Sambhal, Bulandshahr, Amroha and Hapur. As per the environmentalist, the polluting industries and the slaughterhouses are guilty of discharging toxic non-treated effluents into rivers and drainage systems, which are ultimately absorbed into the ground water table, and is used for consumption by general public. Continue reading High levels of toxins including ARSENIC & LEAD found in ground water in 9 districts of Western U.P.

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