Dear Pandit ji,
I am a resident from a small village, Jamaalpur Maan in Bijnore district of UP. Your magazine is very popular in my territory. I want to know the harmful impact of plastic things on human health. Can old plastic brushes be harmful for teeth or gums of humans?
Pawan Kr. Bharti, Via mail
Dentists throughout the world recommend changing toothbrushes after every three to four months. Not only can old toothbrushes be bad for your teeth and gums but they stop being effective. Old toothbrushes can harbour harmful bacteria that may cause infections such as Gingivitis. Germs left on toothbrush can cause recurring colds and sore throats. They thrive in dense toothbrushes, especially those with soft bristles.
They also remain on toothbrush handles. Viruses can survive for several days on an opaque or tinted handle, while a clear handle kills them faster as it allows light to pass through. There are some natural toothbrushes too! Miswak, for example, is a natural toothbrush-cumtoothpaste. This multi-purpose stick cleans the mouth, whitens the teeth and sweetens the breath. So, using plastic for brushing your teeth is not the only way.
Dear Pandit ji,
We often see roads lighted by Sodium lamps .We also say that white light is more effective than incandescent bulbs. Then why do we not use florescent tubes in place of Sodium lamps to light roads?
Surinder Kumar Jindal & other child members, Via mail
Fluorescent light bulbs do produce far more light over a longer period of time than incandescent bulbs for the same amount of power consumed. Sodium lamps, however, are even more efficient than fluorescent lamps. High pressure sodium lamps are roughly twice as effective as fluorescent lamps. They also spread light over a larger area and function better over a wider range of temperatures, making them more suitable for the outdoors.
But then, why not use sodium lamps for everything? Sodium lamps only produce light in one wavelength, making it difficult to distinguish the color of anything it shines on. Most produce an orange light and people do not want everything in their house to appear orange! Therefore, sodium lamps are generally used to light roads and parking lots.
Dear Pandit ji,
I am a regular reader of Gobar Times, in fact, I read it more regularly than DTE. I have been thinking about an idea and would like to find out more about it. I would like to know if recycling urine is a viable proposition?
Shantanu Chakraborti, Via mail
You will be surprised to find out that urine has been used historically and is still used today for many things including the hide tanning, bleaching, medicine, and body cleansing. One practical use for urine in medicine is mixing urine with mud. This paste is used by certain tribes in Central Africa to relieve the stinging of insect bites.
Urine’s alkaline characteristics help break down the grease. It is said that using urine along with soap leaves your hair and skin feeling softer. So, yes, urine can be used for many things but I think I’ll stick to soap and water for my bath!
Towards the end of 2005, I sent faxes to the President and the Prime Minister of India regarding the promotion of public awareness about the bird flu virus. I wanted to pre-warn the people in India about the symptoms and precautions against the avian flu virus. There were not any cases of bird flu in India at that time. But, only the President’s Secretariat replied saying has been forwarded to Ministry of Environment and Forests. But now, when Bird Flue may be spreading in various parts of country like Maharashtra and Gujarat, the Central government has suddenly become more attentive.
Why are they worried about it at a time when the Flu has already spread? Why weren’t the leaders and the Central Government alert when it was not here and I sent them letter for some awareness programme or at least an advertisement?
Pawan K. Bharti, Research Scholar, Department Of Zoology & Environmental Science, Gurukula Kangri University, Hardwar (Uttaranchal)
Dear Pandit ji,
Some of your readers want to know about terracotta and clay and their environmental friendliness. May I add a few more facts to lend strength to your wonderful response?
Clay is fairly stable in an acidic medium in ambient/ sub-surface conditions. Its performance (clay group of minerals) matches with quartz (silica). When compared to other dominantly occurring minerals such as feldspar, plagioclase, pyroxenes and amphibolite, natural clay is considered extremely acid tolerant.
As clay is baked the acid tolerance is further improved because of vitrification of silica, feldspar and clay present in the artisanal raw material. A glaze or engobe further improves the acid tolerant properties of terracotta. Traditionally, artisanal clay is taken from a plot of agricultural field with a fatigue in the soil column after years of cultivation. Potters have traditional rights, in many parts of India, for the top one yard (90cms) of soil column as part of ‘jajmani’.
By removing the fatigued column, the pedological process is accelerated on the exposed surface. Silt from tanks and ponds is growingly being used these days due to gradual collapse of jajmani. Brick earth is an inferior variety of artisanal clay and does not require good plasticity as easily moulded into simple geometric shapes. Large tracts of land is leased out commercially for brick making similar to leasing of mining rights. Commercial brick manufacturing in fertile agricultural land is causing greater damage contrary to artisanal clay for use in terracotta.
Goutam Bhattacharya, Udaipur