Avoid These Seven Environmental Toxins
Environmental toxins are pervasive in today’s world. In fact, they are quite literally all around us.
As a result, they’re difficult to avoid. They can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through your skin. And they can slowly accumulate in a person’s system over time.
Researchers have identified close to 800 different chemicals that qualify as environmental toxins. A recent survey done by the CDC found that 200 of these toxins can be found in human blood and urine. More concerning was that the study identified 75 new toxins that hadn’t been identified in people previously.
Following are some examples:
For decades, lead was routinely used to make paint and water pipes, and as an additive for gasoline. Today we know that lead from these and other products causes severe health issues for people that include: memory loss, digestive issues, and nerve damage.While lead was eliminated from manufactured products decades ago, it continues to be prevalent in the environment; and many municipalities have yet to remediate the lead pipes that provide water to their citizens.
Have you ever heard the phrase “mad as a hatter”? Back in the 18th century, hat makers used a solution containing mercury to soften animal pelts. What they didn’t realize at the time is that mercury was (and is) a potent neurotoxin.Even though researchers have known about the dangers of mercury for decades, it continues to be used in everything from electrical products to pharmaceuticals.And because mercury doesn’t break down in the environment, it’s retained at every level of the food chain. This is why top-level marine predators like tuna often carry high levels of mercury in their bodies.
Consumed or inhaled, prolonged exposure to mercury can cause severe respiratory and neurological damage.
It should come as no surprise that arsenic is toxic. It has been a favorite among assassins for centuries.What is surprising is just how common arsenic is in the environment.
In particular, arsenic commonly occurs in groundwater. People can be exposed to arsenic by drinking contaminated water, eating food that has been washed or prepared with contaminated water, or from living close to industrial facilities that use arsenic.Long-term arsenic exposure has been linked to skin lesions and cancer.
Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil. Houses that are located in radon-prone areas can accumulate dangerous levels of radon if they aren’t properly ventilated.Studies estimate that radon exposure is a leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Home testing for radon is the only way to know if you are at risk.
A naturally occurring metal, cadmium is used in a variety of products from rechargeable batteries to paint.Because cadmium is a potent carcinogen, its use is tightly regulated. Tight regulation notwithstanding, cadmium does not break down naturally, and it persists in the environment. Long-term cadmium exposure can cause cancer, as well as damage to the body overall.
Benzene is found in a variety of petroleum products, from crude oil to solvents, and it can be found in auto exhaust.Like other toxins, benzene is a potent carcinogen. It can also cause damage to the immune system, bone marrow, and the central nervous system.
You probably remember formaldehyde from high school biology. It’s commonly used to preserve biological specimens for long-term study. Formaldehyde is also used in many manufacturing processes. Short-term exposure to high levels of formaldehyde can be fatal. Longer-term exposure to formaldehyde can cause irritation to the respiratory tract, as well as several types of cancer.
What Can You Do?
Knowledge is your best defense. Be aware of potential toxins in your home and workplace and take steps to minimize your exposure. In general, do your best to maintain a healthy, toxin-free lifestyle.
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