Environmental toxins are chemicals and other materials created from the modern industrial world. You can’t see, feel, or smell many of the toxins, but they are just as harmful.
As scientists are getting better at detecting different chemicals in our bodies, they’re discovering that even tiny quantities of toxins can have detrimental effects on our health. Read on to learn about the top ten most common environmental toxins and how you can protect yourself from them.
This industrial chemical has been banned from the US for decades, but persists in our environment.
Risks: Cancer, fetal neurological impairment
Sources: Farm-raised salmon. Farm-raised salmon are fed meals of ground-up fish that have absorbed PCBs in the environment. When buying salmon, look for wild Alaskan salmon or any other type of wild fish to avoid this hazardous chemical.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the majority of all pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides are carcinogenic. Pesticide residues are detected in 50-90% of US foods and are a common environmental toxin.
Risks: Parkinson’s disease, miscarriage, nerve damage, birth defects, blocking the absorption of food nutrients, cancer.
Sources: Commercially produced fruits, vegetables, non-organic meat and poultry, and bug sprays.
3. Mold and other Fungal Toxins
One in three 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 blue cheese, peanuts, wheat, corn and alcoholic beverages.
These chemicals are used to lengthen the life of fragrances and soften plastics. While Phthalates are a common preservative and manufacturing chemical, they are dangerous to human systems and threaten our environmental wellness.
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. Use glass storage containers and bottles whenever possible.
5. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
VOCs are a major contributing factor to ozone, an air pollutant. According to the EPA, VOCs tend to be even higher (two to five times) 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.
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 per cent of exposure comes from eating commercial animal fats.
This insulating material was a common environmental toxin that was widely used in housing insulation from the 1950s to 1970s. Problems arise when the material becomes old and crumbly, releasing fibres 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 heating 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.
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.
This colorless liquid has a pleasant, nonirritating ordor 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.
Major Sources: The primary sources of chloroform released in the environment are pulp and paper mills, pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, chemical manufacturing plants, chlorinated wastewater from sewage treatment plants, and chlorinated drinking water.
This highly toxic, yellow-green gas is one of the most heavily used chemical agents making it a common environmental toxin that can threaten our wellness.
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.
Information Source: Mercola.com