Environmental toxics accumulate in our tissues throughout our lives. They cause or contribute to a variety of illnesses. The largest impact of toxics to health is on the heart and blood vessels, brain, endocrine system, and the immune system. Many diseases are proving to have a connection to environmental chemicals and heavy metals: thyroid disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, autism, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, asthma, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, and many other conditions.
Heavy metals accumulate mainly in brain, liver, kidneys, bone, blood vessels, and gut. They cause heart disease, diabetes, mood and thinking problems, fatigue, osteoporosis, headaches or body aches, coordination difficulties, etc.
Genetically modified foods are grown with increased application of herbicide and are associated with disease. The Non GMO Project lists non-GMO food brands: www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo
Chemical toxics fall into 3 groups:
1.Persistent organic pollutants, accumulate and concentrate in body fat. They magnify up the food chain and are not easily cleared. These include chlorinated pesticides, PCB’s, compounds in farmed salmon.
2.Non-persistent organic pollutants are cleared from tissues, but daily exposures cause constant blood levels. These include plasticizers, pesticides, solvents, formaldehyde.
3.Solvents and VOC’s (volatile organic chemicals)
Chemicals cause all manner of neurological symptoms: fatigue, headaches, balance and coordination disorders, learning and thinking difficulties, tremors, thyroid or endocrine disease, etc.
Metals and chemicals can be treated, but the process is very slow.
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a condition in which the individual becomes ill from exposure to low concentrations of common chemicals. In 2003, Environmental Health Perspectives (part of the National Institutes of Health) reported the incidence of MCS in the US at 12% of the population. Symptoms triggered by exposure to chemicals include migraine headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, abdominal and/or joint pains, respiratory irritation, difficulty breathing, insomnia, confusion, skin irritation. Intensity of symptoms varies from mild to incapacitating.
The Environmental Working Group provides information at their website on food safety and toxicity of consumer products. You can find out about toxicity of personal care products at their link: ewg.org/skindeep/.
Chemical fragrances cause illness for those with asthma and allergies. For those with asthma, fragrances are as likely to trigger asthmatic attacks as second hand smoke. (Dr Honeyman’s office policy on scents)
Scented things that can cause others to become ill are:
shampoo and conditioners
lotions and creams
colognes and aftershaves
perfumes and fragrances
scented oils and candles
industrial and household chemicals
air fresheners and room deodorizers
laundry soaps, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets
Prior to 1970 perfumes and scents were of natural origin rather than chemical. Since then chemical scents predominate, many of these chemicals pose a cancer risk even if they don’t make us feel ill on exposure.
Genetic tests are available that will tell how well our body handles toxics, things we can do to clear toxics more easily because of our genes, and whether we are at risk for serious illnesses because of a genetic deficit.
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health – Scent Free policy
Canadian Human Rights Commission – Environmental Illness
Environmental Working Group