Environmental toxins are chemicals and other substances that accumulate in the human body due to emissions, processed foods, impure water, and various other sources, which can cause illness. Around 400-800 chemicals are stored in the bodies of most Americans, and health impacts include the following: obesity, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, cancer, headaches, vision problems, allergies, asthma, immune system depression, nutritional deficiencies, ADHD, schizophrenia, viral infections, difficulty in handling stress, neurological disorders and many others. Statistics reveal that 77,000 toxins are produced in North America, including 7,000 added to our food supply. Over 10,000 chemicals are used as preservatives and additives during food processing. Approximately 1,000 new chemicals are introduced each year. Imagine how we are surrounded with toxins, which are slowly deteriorating our body’s systems.
Environmental toxins are present everywhere, in the food we eat, in the water we drink, even in the air we breathe. It is impossible to avoid them completely. Some of the most dangerous toxins to be avoided are:
Pesticides: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides and 30% of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic (cancer causing). Pesticide residues have been detected in 50-95% of U.S. foods.
Molds: Molds produce mycotoxins. Mold can be found in areas of water invasion in the home or workplace. Even a small amount of this toxin can lead to a range of health problems in sensitive individuals.
Heavy Metals: Heavy metals such as Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic, and Aluminum are present in the environment and accumulate in the soft tissues of the body. Major sources are fish, preserved wood, building materials, drinking water, vaccines, pesticides, chlorine manufacturing plants, and antiperspirants, all of which can lead to a range of health problems.
Chlorine: A highly toxic gas used in many industries. It is commonly used in municipal drinking water, household cleaners, and paper plants. Health effects can range from skin, eye, and lung irritation to more serious conditions.
PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls): This particular chemical has been banned in the U.S. in 1979, however it is still found in the environment. Its common source is farm-raised salmon. It has been associated with cancer and impaired fetal brain development.
Dioxins: Combustion processes, waste incineration, and burning fuels such as wood, coal, or oil releases dioxins into the environment.
Chloroform: A colorless liquid with a sweet taste and pleasant order, it is obtained by mixing chlorine with water. It is found in air, water, and food.
Asbestos: Most common in insulation in ceilings, floors, water pipes and heating ducts. Exposure can lead to cancer (mesothelioma). Asbestos fibers are released into the air as the insulation ages.
Phthalates: A type of chemical used in fragrances and plastics. It is primarily found in cosmetic products, plastic bottles, food storage containers, and plastic wrap. It should be noted that it could leach into the liquid or food or food it was meant to protect. Its health effect is Endocrine system damage – phthalates chemical mimic hormones and are particularly dangerous to children.
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds): According to the EPA, VOCs are 200-500% more prevalent in indoor air than in outdoor air, because they are present in many household products. It is an air pollutant. Its major sources are carpeting, paint, drinking water, deodorants, cleaning substances, air fresheners, and cosmetics.
From earliest development throughout an entire life, we are exposed to the chemicals present in air, water and food. These chemicals may be invisible to our senses, but their negative health effects are slow and damaging. It is difficult to avoid exposure to all toxins. However, we can take some simple steps to reduce or limit our exposure to harmful substances. Here are some tips to reduce health risks due to exposure to environmental pollutants:
Organic food is the healthiest form of food, as its consumption versus conventional products minimize toxin exposure. Try to incorporate as much organic food as possible into you diet.
Consult a biological dentist to have metal fillings properly removed, as they can be a major source of mercury.
Use natural clean household cleaners.
Avoid using room fresheners, fabric softeners and synthetic fragrances which pollute the air.
Avoid consumption of food additives.
Have tap water tested for environmental toxins. Consider a water filtration system.
Educate yourself on these and other chemicals in the environment, and learn how to limit or eliminate exposure.
Educate yourself on treatments available for toxin exposure. Keep in mind that toxins can be lipophilic (fat loving) or hydrophilic (water loving). A lipophilic toxin will accumulate in the fat tissues of the body and may be a reason that someone working on trying to loose weight may not be able to achieve their goal. A detox program may be needed to reduce fat loving toxins. Hydrophilic toxins will be found in the water containing tissues. A good detox program should incorporate both toxin types into the program.
Yours in Health,
Sean Ripp, D.C.