Monday, March 31, 2014

Health Education

 Health Education

Mothers in the Llanos de Pinal nutrition group listen as Pop Wuj students Cristina Woodhouse and Melissa Heberlein take the opportunity to educate about the dangers of respiratory illness.
Many Guatemalan families spend a lot of time cooking over or in close contact with an open flame inside the house. Respiratory illnesses contracted from smoke inhalation is currently the second leading cause of death among Guatmemalan children and also poses large threats to adults. While many families may not have the option of using an alternative stove with a chimney, there are steps they can take to protect themselves and their families. The presentation included education about the dangers of burning plastic and how smoke exposure can be decreased by not having your baby on your back or your children playing close to the fire.

A demonstration using dye (smoke) and water bottles (lungs) shows how much more susceptible children's lungs are to the damage caused by smoke.

Another recent health education focus was lead poisoning. Traditional clay Guatemalan cookware often has a lead glaze. The toxic lead contaminates food and can cause a variety of health problems. Some of the effects of lead are a reduced capacity to contentrate, lack of memory, reduced ability to hear, increased anxiety,  hyperactivity, and vertigo. Leads effects on the stomach including abdominal cramps, lose of appetite and ability to taste flavor, nausea, and weight loss. Lack of blood circulation, liver damage, high blood pressure, anemia, cavities, lowered immune system, joint pain, weakness in fingers and muscles are more destructive effects of lead    (, Proyecto Plomo Guatemala).

Melissa explains how washing your hands and cleaning your nails can reduce the amount of lead that enters your body.                  
Children are at a higher risk for lead poisoning because their bodies are still developing. The lead effects can include stunted physical and mental growth as well as behavioral problems such as increased aggressiveness and violence. (, Proyecto Plomo Guatemala).

It is also very important that the women selling fruit and vegetables in the market wash their hands because they are using  pure lead weights to weigh their goods. While an alternative weight is preferable, a plastic bag around the lead would help protect the women and the consumer.

   Pots with toxic lead-based paint

While we can not be sure that all of the glazes on these pots contain lead, it is best to avoid all shiny paints and glazes until Guatemala bans those that are contaminated.

Rudy Giron: &emdash; Clay Pottery for Sale

Pots without lead-based paint

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