Environmental toxins surround us. Though some are naturally occurring, most are byproducts of industrialization. These environmental toxins permeate water, soil, air, household items, cosmetics, and our food supply. Worst of all, most of these environmental toxins are used in excess every single day. Many of the products that fill the shelves of the local grocery store are swimming with environmental toxins. Some are worse than others, but for pregnant mothers and the developing child, these seemingly harmless products can do unforeseen damage to the developing brain and nervous system.
What are Environmental Toxins?
Environmental toxins are chemicals that disrupt the sensitive biological systems of the human body. Environmental toxins can act as endocrine disruptors, cause cancer, and lead to the development of chronic illnesses. Environmental toxins have also been linked to an increased prevalence of Autism, Alzheimer’s, and other serious neurological disorders. These environmental toxins are a detrimental burden on the human body, even though they have never been fully tested for safety.
Types of Environmental Toxins
Environmental toxins exist in all varieties. Heavy metals such as lead and mercury are considered environmental toxins, and both are naturally occurring. Though lead is known to be hazardous to human health, it is still used in cosmetic products. Some of the most common types of environmental toxins include:
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)
PCBs are commonly found in farm-raised fish and can cause cancer and fetal brain development issues.
Pesticides are used on major crops to rid vegetation of insects and other pests that would otherwise destroy crops. However, these chemically derived pesticides are extremely toxic. Most of these hazardous pesticides make their way through the food chain and onto our dinner plates.
DDT, the dangerous pesticide which was banned in 1972 for its health dangers, is still circulating in our environment.
Pesticides like Monsanto’s Roundup virtually saturate large crops, commercially raised meat, and the water supply. RoundUp comprises the active ingredient glyphosate which was approved for commercial use by the US in 1974, just two years after DDT was banned. Since its release, RoundUp and other manufactured pesticides comprised of glyphosates have been used aggressively in mainstream agriculture. Studies have shown that glyphosates are just as if not more harmful than DDT. Disease rates have climbed higher than ever, and the increased rate of diseases such as Autism have been linked to glyphosate exposure. The detrimental effects of glyphosates are appearing even sooner than those of DDT, which raises the question: Why are we still mass producing and endorsing daily use of such highly toxic chemicals?
Phthalates are plasticizers found in all plastic products including plastic wrap, tupperware, and plastic bottles. Plastic is thought to be a major convenience in the modern world, but phthalates cause chronic damage to the endocrine system.
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
VOCs are found in paints, deodorants, cosmetic products, dry cleaned clothing, and even drinking water. VOCs can cause respiratory issues, headaches, memory impairment, and even cancer. VOCs evaporate without difficulty and present a higher risk of inhalation.
Fluoride is added to water supplies and is touted as a boon to healthy teeth and gums. However, fluoride is also linked to cancer and mottling of the teeth. Fluoride is also linked impaired fetal development and lower IQ scores in children.
Arsenic is identified by the EPA as a carcinogenic chemical. It has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and abnormal fetal development. The EPA has a maximum legal limit of 50 parts per billion, yet most of the US water supply is contaminated with high levels of arsenic that likely surpass the legal limit.
This shocking list of environmental toxins is only the tip of the iceberg. There are literally dozens more in existence, and most are used by consumers every day.
Most Threatening Environmental Toxins Today
Despite expanding scientific knowledge of the effects of certain manmade chemicals, harmful products continue to hit the shelves in mass supply. Certain products in the market today contain chemicals that are setting off alarms amongst health-conscious communities.
Teflon on Pans
The craze of the non-stick frying pan has taken the nation by storm. In nearly every store, the kitchen appliance aisles are stocked almost exclusively with non-stick kitchen sets. In fact, in recent years, non-stick has maintained majority hold on the shelves, making it much harder to find traditional cookware free of teflon. But sometimes convenience comes at a price. When overheated, teflon releases toxic fumes that are readily inhaled. These toxic fumes have even killed household birds. For humans, the use of teflon cookware has led to flu-like symptoms of toxicity called “Teflon Flu.” The long-term effects of teflon have not been thoroughly studied, but it is safe to say that long-term use of such a dangerous toxin will do more harm than good. Rather than risk your health for convenience’s sake, opt for safer options such as ceramic or cast iron cookware in your kitchen.
Metals used to seal water pipes
Lead causes severe damage to the kidneys, liver, reproductive system, and nervous system of the human body. Water pipes are sealed with fluxes comprised of lead. The lead used to seal water pipes essentially contaminates the water supply along with the other environmental toxins circulating in the water. The safest way to avoid lead toxicity is to drink filtered water. The effects of fluoride, lead, and the hodgepodge of other environmental toxins present in the water supply present great risk to human health. For women who are either pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, consuming large amounts of toxin-infused water could have negative effects on the developing fetus.
Hair Dye & Metal Toxicity
In the 1950s, only 7% of American women dyed their hair. Now, that number has gone up to 75%, with younger and older women changing hair colors on a regular basis. Hair dye, like most other cosmetics, are considered harmless amongst the general population. Unfortunately, many hair dyes are made up of multiple chemicals and heavy metals that are toxic to the body. Women who regularly dye their hair run a greater risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer in the lymph system that is fatal for about half of whom are diagnosed. The chemical phenylenediamine is commonly found in permanent hair dyes and has been linked to the development of bladder cancer. Women who regularly dye their hair are three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than their dye-free peers. Lead acetates and other heavy metals are often found in dark hair dyes, and consistent use of such hair dye can damage the central nervous system and reproductive system. Heavy metals in combination with phenylenediamine and ammonia make hair-dye a chemical concoction primed for toxicity.
Reducing Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Avoiding exposure to environmental toxins when there are so many around can be a challenge. However, by choosing to eat organic food and making a few other lifestyle changes, you can greatly reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases resulting from environmental toxin exposure.
- Purchasing organic foods limits your exposure to environmental toxins and also optimizes the body’s natural defenses. Organic foods are naturally rich in antioxidants and minerals that aid the body in detoxification. Organic produce and free-range meat limits your consumption of agricultural chemicals, primarily pesticides. Avoid processed and prepackaged foods that usually contain food coloring, additives, and preservatives. Opt for wild-caught fish instead of farm-raised. Farm-raised fish contain high levels of PCBs and mercury.
- Avoid plastic containers to reduce phthalate toxins and BPA. Glass containers are your safest option.
- Filter the water from all faucets to limit environmental toxin exposure as much as possible. With such contaminants as fluoride and lead polluting the water supply, it is best to avoid unfiltered water when possible.
- Instead of using cleaning products ripe with hazardous ingredients, purchase natural cleaning products that are both effective and safe to use. The more naturally-derived your products are, the closer you will be to living a toxin-free life.
Treating Patients Exposed to Environmental Toxins
Environmental toxins are a bigger problem than many people realize. These silent killers accumulate in the body over time as a result of our toxic and chemically saturated environment.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we understand the toxic nature of our environment and the effects these toxins have on human health. With expert care, LifeWorks Wellness Center will diagnose and treat the effects of environmental toxins using holistic treatments that have successfully alleviated patients of chronic illness. Good health starts from within. At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we can help you get on the road to recovery.