Toxic Chemical Exposure and Our Health
Everyday, everywhere, everyone is exposed to a variety of environmental pollutants by way of our air, water and food. These chemicals can directly impact our health and, as a whole, create potential illnesses that can be detrimental to our society. We have seen an increase in cancer rates, thyroid disorders, miscarriages, ADHD, autism, infant deformities, changes in sperm count and other illnesses associated with environmental exposure to toxins in well documented investigations and published scientific research. This is alarming and we need to question not only how we are treating these diseases, but also how we can reduce exposure to chemicals and pollution. We commonly assume that all chemicals released into the environment or produced for consumer use have been carefully tested for human safety, but this is not always the case. As a child grows, he or she can be exposed to various chemicals that can potentially change the course of their development, or cause fertility problems down the line. These kind of changes can impact not just this generation, but also subsequent generations of our offspring. This problem can no longer be ignored. We can now detect industrial chemicals in our body with current technological advances and are able to discover a myriad of different chemicals appearing in our bodies. In reality, there is no proper oversight in the United States right to require chemical companies to properly test chemicals for human safety before they are released to the general public or the environment. Most countries in the world are in the same situation and we are exposing our children and ourselves to some of these chemicals that potentially can be harmful. The impact can be great even with minimal exposure.
There are currently six main toxic chemicals that exists in our environment which have shown to be associated with reduced I.Q., intellectual impairment, childhood cancer, difficulty focusing, hyperactivity, ADHD, impaired fetal growth, breast cancer, poor semen quality, testicular cancer, and miscarriage. These chemicals consist of the following:
- Air Pollutants – industrial and automobiles emissions, cooking stoves, fires, and cigarette smoke.
- Pesticides – contaminating our food supply.
- Solvents – widely used and may be found in paints, glues and cleaning agents.
- PCBs – man-made chemicals widely found in electrical equipment.
- Phthalates – plastic additives
- Lead – used in a wide variety of products found in and around our homes.
Here is what we can do to help:
- We can actively participate in creating policies in our communities for preventing exposure to toxic chemicals.
- We can work together to ensure a healthy food system by buying and demanding healthier agricultural practices that minimalizes the use of pesticides and chemicals.
- Make environmental health part of your family’s conversation. Engaging in such conversations regularly creates awareness that allows better education and understanding.
- Be smart in using different types of plastics. Three plastics have been shown to leach out toxic chemicals when heated, worn or put under pressure: polycarbonate, which leaches bisphenol A; polystyrene, which leaches styrene; and PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which break down into vinyl chloride and sometimes contains phthalates that can leach out.
- When using cleaning products and paints for your home, wear proper protective gear including a mask.
- Even though most of our tap water supply is safe, it would not be a bad idea to install an additional water filter especially for drinking water.
- Evaluate air pollution where you live. It might be a good idea not to live around busy intersection or where there are a lot of automobile and industrial air pollutions.
Since we live in a “chemical soup,” it is unavoidable to not be exposed to some form of toxins. Living a healthy lifestyle with reduced stress, regular exercise, and sufficient amounts of sleep is always a good basic starting point in helping our bodies to get rid of toxins. In ancient times, Taoists in China who have been known to live a long life, practice regular seasonal detoxification. This required that they spend a few days reducing their food intake, increased water intake, and practiced meditation. At Tao of Wellness we have always encouraged our patients to try our detoxification protocol which includes acupuncture, detox herbs, detox tuina, infra-red sauna and a detox diet. Doing this during seasonal changes can help our bodies get rid of toxins that have accumulated during the previous season and allows for a fresh start feeling healthy and rejuvenated.