How to Avoid the Top 10 Most Common Toxins

     Environmental toxins are chemicals and other materials created largely from industry and carelessness. These chemicals  have saturated our water, food and the very air we breathe.  You can't see, feel, or smell many toxins--at least, not right away.  We don't realize their affects until we come down with a chronic disease after years of exposure.

 77,000: chemicals are produced in North America
Over 3,000: chemicals added to our food supply
Over 10,000: chemical solvents, emulsifiers and preservatives used in food processing
1,000:
new chemicals introduced each year

The Effects of Toxins on Your Body

A study by The British Medical Journal says that  75% of most cancers are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors.
A report by the Columbia University School of Public Health estimates that
95% of cancer is caused by diet and environmental toxicity.

Most Americans have between 400- 800 chemicals stored in their bodies, typically in fat cells. Some of the short- and long-term effects of these toxins include:

  • Neurological disorders (Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, depression, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, etc.)
  • Cancer
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Enzyme dysfunction
  • Altered metabolism
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Obesity
  • Muscle and vision problems
  • Immune system depression
  • Allergies/Asthma
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Chronic viral infections
  • Less ability to tolerate/handle stress

The 10 Most Common Toxins

The following toxins are among the most prevalent in our air, water and/or food supply.

  1. 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.

    Risks: Cancer, impaired fetal brain development
    Major Source: Farm-raised salmon. Most farm-raised salmon, which accounts for most of the supply in the United States are fed meals of ground-up fish that have absorbed PCBs in the environment and for this reason should be avoided.

  2. Pesticides: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60%  of herbicides, 90 %  of fungicides and 30% of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. Alarmingly, pesticide residues have been detected in 50% - 95%  of U.S. foods.

    Risks: Cancer, Parkinson's disease, miscarriage, nerve damage, birth defects, blocking the absorption of food nutrients
    Major Sources: Food (fruits, vegetables and commercially raised meats), bug sprays

  3. Mold and other Fungal Toxins: 33% of 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.

    Risks: Cancer, heart disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis, diabetes
    Major Sources: Contaminated buildings, food like peanuts, wheat, corn and alcoholic beverages

  4. Phthalates: These chemicals are used to lengthen the life of fragrances and soften plastics.

    Risks: Endocrine system damage (phthalates chemically mimic hormones and are particularly dangerous to children)
    Major Sources: Plastic wrap, plastic bottles, plastic food storage containers. All of these can leach phthalates into our food.

  5. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds): VOCs are a major contributing factor to ozone, an air pollutant. According to the EPA, VOCs tend to 200%-500% in indoor air than outdoor air, likely because they are present in so many household products.

    Risks: Cancer, eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment
    Major Sources: Drinking water, carpet, paints, deodorants, cleaning fluids, varnishes, cosmetics, dry cleaned clothing, moth repellants, air fresheners.

  6. Dioxins: Chemical compounds formed as a result of combustion processes such as commercial or municipal waste incineration and from burning fuels (like wood, coal or oil).

    Risks: Cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, chloracne (a severe skin disease with acne-like lesions), skin rashes, skin discoloration, excessive body hair, mild liver damage
    Major Sources: Animal fats: Over
    95 %  of exposure comes from eating commercial animal fats.

  7. Asbestos: This insulating material was widely used from the 1950s to 1970s. Problems arise when the material becomes old and crumbly, releasing fibers into the air.

    Risks: Cancer, scarring of the lung tissue, mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer)
    Major Sources: Insulation on floors, ceilings, water pipes and healing ducts from the 1950s to 1970s.

  8. Heavy Metals: Metals like arsenic, mercury, lead, aluminum and cadmium, which are prevalent in many areas of our environment, can accumulate in soft tissues of the body. Heavy Metals

    Risks: Cancer, neurological disorders, Alzheimer's disease, foggy head, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels
    Major Sources: Drinking water, fish, vaccines, pesticides, preserved wood, antiperspirant, building materials, dental amalgams, chlorine plants Heavy Metals

  9. Chloroform: This colorless liquid has a pleasant, nonirritating odor and a slightly sweet taste, and is used to make other chemicals. It's also formed when chlorine is added to water.

    Risks: Cancer, potential reproductive damage, birth defects, dizziness, fatigue, headache, liver and kidney damage.
    Major Sources: Air, drinking water and food can contain chloroform.

  10. Chlorine: This highly toxic, yellow-green gas is one of the most heavily used chemical agents.

    Risks: Sore throat, coughing, eye and skin irritation, rapid breathing, narrowing of the bronchi, wheezing, blue coloring of the skin, accumulation of fluid in the lungs, pain in the lung region, severe eye and skin burns, lung collapse, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS) (a type of asthma)
    Major Sources: Household cleaners, drinking water (in small amounts), air when living near an industry (such as a paper plant) that uses chlorine in industrial processes.

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Welcome to Tox Town
An introduction to toxic chemicals and environmental health risks you might encounter in everyday life, in everyday places.

http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/index_content.html

Tips to Avoid Toxins

It's impossible  to avoid all environmental toxins. What you can do, however, is limit your exposure.

  • Buy and eat, as much as possible, organic produce and free-range, organic foods.
  • Rather than eating fish, which is largely contaminated with PCBs and mercury, consume a high-quality purified fish or cod liver oil.
  • Avoid processed foods -- remember that they're processed with chemicals!
  • Only use natural cleaning products in your home
  • Switch over to natural brands of toiletries
  • Remove any metal fillings as they're a major source of mercury. Be sure to have this done by a qualified biological dentist.
  • Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances as they can pollute the air you are breathing.
  • Avoid artificial food additives of all kind, including artificial sweeteners and MSG
  • Get plenty of safe sun exposure to boost your vitamin D levels and your immune system (you'll be better able to fight disease).
  • Have your tap water tested and, if contaminants are found, install an appropriate water filter on all your faucets (even those in your shower or bath).
  • Seek to build your health up through the nutrition insights Total Health Program, and then limit your use of drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) as much as possible.

Content adapted from: http://www.mercola.com/2005/feb/19/common_toxins.htm
artwork: www.anr.state.vt.us/.../mobile/driver/Rframe.htm

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