New Age Killers

The Church of England - - ENGLAND ON SUNDAY - Janey Lee Grace Live Healthy! Live Happy!

If you are a fan of the ‘ever-in­creas­ing in pop­u­lar­ity’ chan­nel BBC 4 you may have seen the ex­cel­lent pro­gramme ‘Hid­den Killers of the Vic­to­rian Age’. We in­ter­viewed the pre­sen­ter, his­to­rian and au­thor Dr Suzan­nah Lis­p­comb about her work dis­cov­er­ing the lethal killers that lurked in ev­ery room of the Vic­to­rian home.

It was a time of great in­no­va­tion as they lapped up the lat­est prod­ucts, gad­gets and con­ve­niences but in an age with no health and safety stan­dards they were un­wit­tingly turn­ing their homes into haz­ardous death traps. While they con­fronted the chal­lenges of rul­ing an em­pire, per­haps the most dan­ger­ous en­vi­ron­ment they faced was their own homes.

Suzan­nah re­vealed some hor­ror tales of wall­pa­per laced with arsenic and lead in the paint as peo­ple rev­elled in the idea of brightly coloured walls in their homes, chil­dren picked off the wall­pa­per (as they are want to do) and had hor­ri­ble symp­toms.

Women were so de­ter­mined to have a tiny waist they squeezed them­selves into corsets with metal eye­lets to pull the strings even tighter. We laugh now at the im­ages of swoon­ing Vic­to­rian women with heav­ing bo­soms pushed high by metal corsets and re­mem­ber how they seemed to need smelling salts at all times, yet this prac­tice con­tin­ued even through preg­nancy and caused se­ri­ous dam­age to their in­ter­nal or­gans.

It was the age when women es­chewed the ben­e­fits of breast milk and of­fered their tots for­mula milk in glass bot­tles with rub­ber teats that were cleaned only ev­ery three weeks or so, by which time mas­sive amounts of bac­te­ria had devel­oped.

‘Silly Vic­to­ri­ans!’ you may cry and yet their fol­lies en­abled us to safe­guard our­selves. How much we owe them! But I can’t help but won­der what a doc­u­men­tary in sev­eral hun­dred years might say about our age. ‘Ob­vi­ous killers of the 2000s’ could be the head­line and no doubt the his­to­ri­ans of the fu­ture will talk with wry amuse­ment about the ‘Warned gen­er­a­tion’ that whilst con­tin­u­ing with known car­cino­gens such as mer­cury fill­ings in their teeth, bot­tle-fed ba­bies (al­beit ster­il­is­ing the teats), highly process foods with high lev­els of sugar and ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers, mis­use of med­i­ca­tion and in­ter­ven­tion and added in a dan­ger­ous dose of syn­thetic hor­mone dis­rupt­ing chem­i­cals into house­hold and per­sonal care prod­ucts. And the big­gest one of all in my view, the mass ‘ex­per­i­ment’ of the in­fil­tra­tion Elec­tro Mag­netic Fre- quen­cies on the hu­man race!

The ‘look back to the 2000s’ report might say ‘Some women of the age wore ‘shape-wear’ and tried strict calo­rie-con­trolled di­ets. To look younger they un­der­went the knife in strange, ex­pen­sive sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures and opted for in­jec­tions into their face known as ‘Bo­tox’ - a treat­ment pop­u­lar with the rich and fa­mous. De­spite lessons learnt from their Vic­to­rian peers they still bom­barded their homes and per­sonal care prod­ucts with po­ten­tially toxic chem­i­cals.

Lets hope it’s not the case: wouldn’t it be great if the doc­u­men­tary of the fu­ture said we were aligned with faith, hope, sus­tain­abil­ity and were open to the holis­tic ap­proach for the greater good.

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