Should We Be Concerned About Toxins?

Sadly, toxic chemicals contaminate every person living in modern society – they are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the stuff we put on our bodies. Carpets, mattresses, water bottles, shampoo, makeup, pots and pans, furniture, computers, toys, baby bottles… you name it, most all contain toxic substances and other byproducts that get into our bodies and the environment.

So why should we really be concerned about these synthetic chemicals that surround us?

It’s simple: The growing amount of scientific evidence linking these chemicals to human disease and long-term health effects has become even more convincing than ever, exposure is more widespread than ever, and just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe.  We are bombarded by thousands of chemical toxins on a daily basis — so much so that children are now born pre-polluted with dangerous levels of toxins in their bodies.  See if this video presentation from EWG President Ken Cook doesn’t convince you!

  

  • So what can you do about it?
  • How can you lower your exposure?  
  • Do you know which toxins are lurking in your environment and how they are affecting your health and the health of your loved ones? 

It all seems overwhelming BUT it doesn’t have to be! One of my goals in starting this blog is to share information so that you are armed with the knowledge to make the changes you feel are important. Even though we’re living in an increasingly toxic world, it doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. We can all take a few simple steps to improve the quality of our health and the health of the those around us.  You don’t have to live like a caveman or woman I promise! By just making some simple choices and changes on a daily basis you can reduce your exposure and live a healthier life.

My hope is to spread this information with as many people as possible, so please read, enjoy, leave comments, ask any questions and share posts and links with your friends — the more people that know, the healthier we all are!

Need Some More Convincing?

According to a 2013 report by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine the amount of chemicals we are exposed to is ever-increasing:

“In the past 70 years, the manufacture and use of industrial chemicals has increased more than 15-fold. Currently, in the United States, approximately 700 new chemicals are introduced into commerce each year, and more than 84,000 chemical substances are listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for manufacturing, processing, or importing; overall, approximately 3,000 of these chemicals are used or imported in high volumes (greater than 1 million pounds).”

And the scary fact is that many of these chemicals that we come into contact with on a daily basis have never had adequate safety testing and far fewer have ever been formally tested on humans.  In effect, we are all guinea pigs in this new industrial toxic soup. 

Unfortunately, many of the chemicals, designed to improve and simplify our lives, end up in our bodies, where they have the potential to build up and interfere with biological processes and have been linked to birth defects, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, attention deficit, early puberty, and developmental problems… not to mention that many are also known to cause cancer, neurological disorders, allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems, and sexual dysfunction. Not only have these toxins been linked with a large number of existing diseases, but many scientists believe that they are responsible for a new group of disorders that involve multiple bodily systems and have multiple symptoms including autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, food intolerances, multiple chemical sensitivity and a number of other syndromes. Our bodies were not designed to process or remove this multitude of synthetic chemicals. And, because these chemicals are designed to last, when we breath and ingest them they accumulate in our bodies. For example, in a study led by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, in collaboration with the Environmental Working Group and Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found 167 chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides in the blood and urine of nine adult Americans. 76 of these chemicals were known carcinogens and  48 of them were PCBs, which were banned in the U.S. in 1976 but are used in other countries and persist in the environment for decades.  None of the nine volunteers worked with chemicals on the job. All lead healthy lives. Yet the subjects contained an average of 91 compounds – most of which did not exist 75 years ago.

And even if we aren’t concerned for ourselves, we should be for future generations. Today, newborn infants are born with dangerous levels of toxins. It’s now known that many chemicals that pregnant women absorb or ingest from the environment can cross the placenta to the fetus. A recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) (see video above) found 232 toxic chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of 10 babies from racial and ethnic minority groups. In Canada, the Environmental Defense released a report in the summer of 2013 that involved testing the umbilical cord blood of three newborns for the presence of 310 different synthetic chemicals. In total, they detected 137 different chemicals (including things like DDT, PCBs and flame retardants) in the newborns. Basically, children are now born pre-polluted. This is disquieting, especially because the vast majority of these chemicals have never been tested for human health effects. Furthermore, the medical community agrees that many diseases and conditions, including obesity, cancer, and autism, are modulated by genes and fetal exposures to the contents of their mothers’ blood. In October 2013, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine even issued a joint statement indicating that scientific evidence over the last 15 years shows that exposure to toxic environmental agents before conception and during pregnancy can have significant and long-lasting effects on reproductive health. You can read the full report here. (Want more proof?… check out this very informative article discussing how children’s brains are at risk from the barrage of common chemicals.)

Unfortunately, just because these chemicals are legal doesn’t mean they’re safe! I used to think – “but aren’t we protected from toxic chemicals by agencies designed to monitor and test them before they are sold to us?” Sadly, we are not. The United States’ toxic chemical regulatory law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, assumes that all chemicals on the market are safe until they are proven harmful. In other words, the current toxin law allows chemicals to be put on the market without testing. The burden is on groups like the Environmental Working Group and others to do the research — and of course that takes time and money — showing that the chemicals are unsafe after the public has already been made into unknowing research subjects rather than requiring proof that it is safe before being put on the market.

And not only that, since the law was first passed in 1976, it has never been updated or amended. As you might imagine, it is in drastic need of reform. A lot has changed in our world since 1976 and we have also learned so much more. When it was originally passed, 62,000 chemicals that were already on the market were declared to be “safe” even though there was little or no data available on them. Since that time, more than 20,000 new chemicals have been put into commerce — also with little or no data to support their safety. U.S. standards are notoriously so weak that even well-known toxins continue to find their way into our food, water, air and products we use every day and manufacturers of products containing known toxins are not required to list them.

Just a few examples of how we can’t assume that just because it’s legal right now, that it’s safe … Would we ever think of allowing smoking on an airplane nowadays? Just remember — it wasn’t until 1988 that smoking was first banned on U.S. domestic flights under 2 hours, then in 1990 on U.S. domestic flights under 6 hours, and not until 1998 (that’s not a typo!) that smoking was banned on all U.S. domestic flights and 2000 that a federal law was introduced to ban smoking on all flights by U.S. airlines.  Similarly, the dangers of asbestos are well known, and although few would dispute the major health hazards related to exposure, the U.S. does not have a comprehensive federal law addressing the issue. In fact, a number of U.S. policymakers have tried to introduce laws to ban the toxic mineral in the country, but they all have failed. Highly toxic lead-based paint wasn’t banned until 1978 but it still remains many older homes… and the world has found new reasons to fear lead exposure in children with the recall of Chinese-made toys decorated with lead paint. And although the US EPA first announced regulations to limit the amount of lead in gasoline in November 1973, the United States did not fully phase out leaded gasoline until 1996… 

Many times you may hear: “Oh, you’re getting such a small dose that it won’t hurt you.” But, if you get that small dose multiple times a day, everyday of your life and you’re also being exposed to hundreds and thousands of “small doses” of many of those synthetic chemicals all mixed together, that logic falls apart. Many of these chemicals have actually been shown to amplify each other’s individual impacts and we don’t fully know the health effects from long-term exposure to low levels of multiple chemicals. Sure the body has systems to detoxify and protect us from “bad stuff,” but we are living in a new age filled with numerous new and human-created chemicals that our bodies were not designed to handle all of the time.

Additionally, new research is showing that some people can withstand the toxic chemical cocktail to which we are all exposed better than others – at least partly due to their genetic makeup…. But do you really want to play that kind of Russian roulette with your health and the health of your family?

As you can see, we can’t assume everything we are exposed to is safe, and toxic chemicals are pervasive and hiding (often in plain site!), BUT it’s not too late! And that’s where this website comes in. Finding and sharing this information became a key purpose of Naturopathic Ways!

In spite of the enormity of toxins that exist around us, it is not too late to make changes in our lives that can and will have a profound effect on our health and the health of our families. Our present circumstances represent an opportunity – it is easy to get caught up in fear, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The purpose of Naturopathic Ways is to spread awareness and information (Knowledge is power!) and encourage as many people as possible to take personal action – I hope to support this action with enough information to help people make empowering choices. Ultimately, it is up to us to become more aware and to make the conscious choices that will send messages to corporations and that will also give us and those we love back our health.

You don’t have to live like a caveman, but you can make simple choices on a daily basis to reduce your exposure and live a healthier life. AND, your choices will directly affect others and the industries producing the products and food that can bring those chemicals into your life. For example, you’ve surely noticed the increase in organic food and beverages at your local grocery store? This is a direct result of consumer demand.

If you’re ready and eager to implement changes that will limit your exposure to toxic chemicals and unburden your body and the bodies of those around you – then now is the time and this site is for you! Please read, enjoy, leave comments, ask any questions and share posts and links with your friends — we want to spread the message to as many people as possible to protect us all!

Wishing you the best of health!

 

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