Environmental toxins cause a host of medical diseases and conditions ranging from brain disorders, cardiovascular disease, infertility, cancers to digestive disorders, immune system disorders, hormone imbalances and bone disorders.
Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor air pollution can affect you at home, work, or even places you visit. It can increase your risk of a respiratory disease, such as asthma, allergies and lung cancer.Indoor air pollution can be worse in winter, when windows are shut tight and less fresh air can circulate.
Four pollutants commonly found in houses have the greatest effect on health which include: 1)formaldehyde, which is released mainly by building materials, 2) acrolein, which comes from heating cooking oil to high temperatures and 3) dust, 4) from cigarette smoke and 5) mold and fungus, and 6) asbestos in home dating back earlier that the 1970s.
Mold and other Fungal Toxins
One in three people have had an allergic reaction to mold. Mycotoxins (fungal toxins) can cause a range of health problems with exposure to only a small amount. They increase the risk for cancer, heart disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. Mold and fungal toxins are found in contaminated buildings, food like peanuts, wheat, corn and alcoholic beverages.
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are a major contributing factor to ozone, an air pollutant. According to the EPA(Environmental Protection Agency), VOCs tend to be even higher (two to five times) in indoor air than outdoor air, likely because they are present in so many household products. They are associated with an increased risk of cancer, eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment. Major sources of VOCs include drinking water, carpet, paints, deodorants, cleaning fluids, varnishes, cosmetics, dry cleaned clothing, moth repellants, air fresheners.
Lead has been linked with serious deficient. Children are still at risk for lead exposure, especially if they live in a home built prior to the 1978 ban on lead based paint. It must be understood that simply banning a product that has been in place for decades does not make the problem evaporate! In addition, even though most water utilities are in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act Lead and Copper Rule of 1991, lead in water remains a problem in some areas. According to Parents for Nontoxic Alternatives, lead is the most prevalent toxin found in water in schools in the United States.
Methylmercury (Murcury) is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil. Exposure to mercury even small amounts may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life. Mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes. People are mainly exposed to methylmercury when they eat fish and shellfish that contain the compound.
Mercury is contained in many products, including batteries, measuring devices, such as thermometers and barometers, electric switches and relays in equipment, lamps (including some types of light bulbs), dental amalgam (for dental fillings), skin-lightening products and other cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)– Humans are exposed to PCBs via food, air and drinking water. Overall, humans are mainly exposed through consumption of contaminated foods, particularly meat, fish, and poultry. Infants can be exposed to PCBs contained in human breast milk.
The general population is exposed to low levels of PCBs present in the air they breathe particularly indoors, but also outdoors. The general population can sometimes be exposed to low levels of PCBs in drinking water, though concentrations are often too low to be measured.
Exposure during pregnancy and breast-feeding may be linked to slow infant growth and development. PCB exposure may also be linked to neurological health effects, (such as numbness and headaches), more frequent infections, and changes of the skin, particularly rashes.
Many studies suggest that there is a link between exposure to PCBs and increased risk of cancers of the digestive system, the liver, and of the skin. Furthermore, high levels of PCBs in the blood may be linked to a cancer of the lymphatic system.
PCB exposure may affect human reproduction and may be linked to decreased fertility in women and a lower mobile-sperm count in men.
Arsenic- when absorbed through drinking water, this chemical has been linked to reduced cognitive function in schoolchildren. Arsenic exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy is known to cause intellectual disabilities. Prenatal arsenic exposure may lead to diseases later in life; bladder cancer has been known to develop up to 20 years after exposure.
Pollution has made groundwater contamination of arsenic a worldwide problem that affects people, crops, and livestock. Unacceptably high arsenic levels affect many water systems in the United States and money is not available to address the problem. Poor communities were identified to be the highest at risk.
Many of the foods that we eat i.e. plants and animals are contaminated with arsenic because of exposure through arsenic contaminated water. Rice and rice products i.e. organic brown rice syrup, in particular can contain high levels of arsenic. Nutritional supplements that contain ingredients from China are also at risk for arsenic contamination.
Arsenic is a carcinogens and exposure can lead to cancer and other toxic health effects, including cardiovascular disease, neurological problems, and developmental disorders. Studies have confirmed the association between arsenic exposure and DNA methylation, a biological process that causes many debilitating and fatal diseases. Other studies have linked arsenic exposure to high blood pressure and as a factor associated with cardiovascular disease. Arsenic can also adversely affect the male reproductive system and diminish semen quality.
Toluene has been linked to brain development problems and attention deficit in children. Exposure to toluene may occur from breathing ambient or indoor air affected by such sources. The central nervous system (CNS), or brain, is the primary target organ for toluene toxicity in both humans and animals for acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) exposures. CNS dysfunction and narcosis have been frequently observed in those acutely exposed to airborne levels of toluene. Symptoms may include fatigue, sleepiness, headaches, and nausea. Chronic inhalation exposure of humans to toluene also causes irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes, sore throat, dizziness, and headache. Studies have reported developmental effects, such as CNS dysfunction, attention deficits, and minor craniofacial and limb anomalies, in the children of pregnant women exposed to high levels of toluene or mixed solvents by inhalation.
The highest concentrations of toluene usually occur in indoor air from the use of common household products (paints, paint thinners, adhesives, synthetic fragrances and nail polish) and cigarette smoke. Toluene exposure may also occur in the workplace, especially in occupations such as manicurist or printing or painting, where toluene is frequently used as a solvent in products that are used. They are also used as flame-retardant chemicals found in upholstery, mattresses, clothing, television, and computer housing.
Manganese- is a trace element that occurs naturally in soil, water, and plants. Several studies have linked excessive manganese exposure and neurological disorders in children. It has been linked to lower scores in math, diminished intellectual function, and ADHD.
Metallic manganese is used primarily in steel production to improve hardness, stiffness, and strength. It is also used in carbon steel, stainless steel, and high-temperature steel, along with cast iron and super-alloys.
Manganese compounds have a variety of uses. Manganese dioxide is used in the production of dry-cell batteries, matches, fireworks, and the production of other manganese compounds.
Manganese chloride is used as a catalyst in the chlorination of organic compounds, in animal feed, and in dry-cell batteries, while manganese sulfate is used as a fertilizer, livestock nutritional supplement, in glazes and varnishes, and in ceramics.
Manganese can also be released into the air by iron and steel production plants, power plants, and coke ovens that can then contaminate water supplies. People who work in or live near factories where manganese metal is produced from manganese ore or where manganese compounds are used to make steel or other products are most likely to be exposed through inhalation to higher than normal levels of manganese.
Fluriode – higher levels of fluoride have been linked with a 7-point decrease in IQ in children and Alzheimer’s disease in adults. Water fluoridation has been banned in many countries. Nearly all of Europe’s water supply is fluoride-free.
Unfortunately, fluoride is present in most of Americas food supply. It is found in our water, juice, soda, wine and coffee, soups and processed food, and baby formula. Fluoride isn’t just in toothpaste. Almost all of the beverages sold in stores and restaurants are made with tap water that leads to a fair amount of fluoride intake.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists fluoride among about 100 chemicals for which there is substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity. There have been over 100 animal experiments showing that fluoride damages the brain and impacts learning and behavior. Studies have shown an association between fluoride exposure and impaired visual-spatial organization and other studies have found an association between prenatal fluoride exposure and fetal brain damage.
Fluoride also affects the pineal gland. Studies show that fluoride accumulates in the human pineal gland to very high levels that may reduce melatonin production and leads to an earlier onset of puberty. Studies have also reported that on average young girls in the fluoridated community reached menstruation 5 months earlier than girls in the non-fluoridated community.
Fluoride negatively impacts thyroid function by lowering thyroid function. According to clinical studies, the thyroid function of hyperthyroid patients was reduced at just 2.3-4.5 mg per day of fluoride while the average of exposure of fluoride in fluoridated communities ranges from 1.6 to 6.6 mg/day. This is a remarkable fact, particularly considering the rampant and increasing problem of hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) in the United States and other fluoridated countries.
A few studies have been done to determine whether the high prevalence of arthritis in America and other fluoridated countries could be related to growing fluoride exposure. Fluoride damages bone. Trials and studies revealed a two-fold increase in bone defects among children in the fluoridated community and a correlation between the severity of dental fluorosis and the frequency of bone fractures in children and adults. Fluoride may increase hip fractures in the elderly. High doses of fluoride can lead to a higher number of fractures, particularly hip fractures.
Chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides)– increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and autism, as well as higher chances for birth defects and a variety of childhood and reproductive cancers. They have recently been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Ninety three percent of Americans tested by the CDC had metabolites of chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic insecticide, in their urine. Banned from home use because of its risks to children, chlorpyrifos is part of a family of pesticides (organophosphates) linked to ADHD. Ninety nine percent of Americans tested positive for DDT degradants, even though DDT hasn’t been used in the U.S. since 1972. Women who were exposed to DDT as girls are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer.
How is it that these two pesticides are found in over 90% of Americans Through the food we eat.
Chlorpyrifos remains one of the most widely used pesticides in U.S. agriculture. DDT is a long-lasting persistent organic pollutant (POP) that bio-accumulates up the food chain, and can be found in most butter and milk. These are but two of the dozens of pesticides found on our food, even after washing.
Tetrachloroethylene– also called perchlorehylene (PREC) have been linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior, and increased risk of psychiatric diagnosis. Mothers in certain professional roles, like nurse, chemist, cleaner, hairdresser, and beautician had higher levels of exposure.
The largest US user of PERC is the dry cleaning industry. It accounts for 80% to 85% of all dry cleaning fluid used. Textile mills, chlorofluorocarbon producers, vapor degreasing and metal cleaning operations, and makers of rubber coatings also use PERC. It can be added to aerosol formulations, solvent soaps, printing inks, adhesives, sealants, polishes, lubricants, and silicones. Typewriter correction fluid and shoe polish are among the consumer products that can contain PERC.
Polybrominateddiphenyl Ethers– Two more compounds of concern are bisphenol A (BPA), a common plastics additive, and phthalate, aka DEP and DBP, are found in many cosmetics such as color cosmetics, fragranced lotions, body washes and hair care products, nail polish and treatment. BPA has been banned in baby bottles and sippy cups due to its negative affect on neurodevelopment. Phthalates, which are common in personal products like nail polish and hair spray, have been linked to shortened attention span and impaired social interactions in children. They are banned in cosmetics sold in the Europe.
DEP is a ubiquitous pollutant of the human body, found in 97 percent of Americans tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recent epidemiological studies have associated DEP with a range of health problems, including sperm damage in men. Most fragrances don’t list phthalates on the label, but hide them under the term, “fragrance.” Plastic wrap, plastic bottles, plastic food storage containers. All of these can leach phthalates into our food.
Health concerns include endocrine disruption (chemically mimic hormones), developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, and bioaccumulation. The most vulnerable populations are in pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)– this industrial chemical has been banned in the United States for decades, yet is a persistent organic pollutant that’s still present in our environment. It is associated with an increased risk of cancer and impaired fetal brain development. Most farm-raised salmon, which accounts for most of the supply in the United States, are fed meals of ground-up fish that contain PCBs in the environment.
Testing- it is important to be tested to see if you have been exposed to a toxin. It is important to test because it is impossible to know what toxins you have been exposed to that may be affecting your health.
Avoidance- it is impossible to avoid all environmental toxins but it is important to limit your exposure.
Tips for avoiding environmental toxins include: drinking filtered water, buying organic foods, using all natural household, cosmetic and hygiene products, buying free range hormone free meats, eggs and diary products, avoiding farm raised fish, synthetic fragrances, fluoride toothpaste, processed foods, artificial additives and preservatives, testing household water testing for pollutants and installing home water and air filter systems.
Oral and IV nutritional therapy can be used to remove and treat toxins from the body when medically indicated.
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