Canary in the Coal Mine
David Suzuki posed the question whether bees could be the canary in the coal mine for the health of planet Earth. Since we at EcoSmart Products are interested in all things healthy for planet Earth, this expression caught our attention. Time for a history lesson. Since early coal mines did not have great ventilation systems, miners would bring a caged canary into the shafts. Canaries had a unique sensitivity (unfortunately for them) to gas build-ups, especially carbon monoxide and methane. As long as the canary in a coal mine kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. But look out when it stopped singing and then keeled over. This signalled an immediate evacuation for the miners. It’s sad, of course, to think of birds being used as sentinels for an early warning sign of a larger problem. David Suzuki used the expression to suggest that we think systemically about why honeybee populations around the globe are declining at such an alarming rate. But what if the ever-increasing incidence of childhood asthma is also a figurative canary in the coal mine? The percent of preschool-aged children with asthma is higher than in any other age group. Is this not a warning sign of larger problems, say, with the quality of our air, or changes in our ecology? Non-toxic school supplies in the classroom, such as the AusPen whiteboard markers, along with a diversity of efforts to improve indoor air quality, can only help to create healthier classrooms and clear the air.