Industrial Chemicals in our Blood

There’s a new wave in testing people for a so-called “body burden” of industrial chemicals in their blood stream.  The results are shocking.  A family with two young children in Oakland, CA

were invited by reporters to participate in a cutting-edge study to measure industrial chemicals in their bodies.

The parents were horrified to find that their children – a boy, then 18 months, and a five-year old girl – had chemical exposure levels up to seven times those of their parents.

The baby boy had three times the level of flame retardants in his body that’s been known to cause thyroid dysfunction in lab rats, although so far he seems fine.

The technology to test for these flame retardants – known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) – and other industrial chemicals is less than 10 years old. Environmentalists call it “body burden” testing, a reference to the chemical “burden,” or legacy of toxins, running through our bloodstream. Scientists refer to this testing as “biomonitoring.”

Many of these chemicals harm rats, but studies on humans are preliminary.  Modern-day humans are living an unnatural experiment and may be creating a monster that will never go away.

Study the following list of chemicals and help force to change “business as usual” practices in the US:

Chemicals that make plastics soft and pliable.  They’re found in all kinds of plastic bottles, as well as plastic containers, kitchen wrap, soft toys and medical devices.  Phthalates are also used as solvents for fragrances, so they’re in a lot of personal care products like shampoos, conditioners, lotions, perfume, nail polish and cosmetics.  Animal studies show that phthalatesdisrupt hormone levels, causing neurological dhysfunction and reproductive defects in lab rats. Preliminary studies on humans show that phthalate exposure may be associated with genital birth defects in males as well as male infertility.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs):
Flame-retardant chemicals. They’re found in foam products such as mattresses, couches and carpets, and in plastics such as casings for TVs, computers and othe electronics.  Animal studies show PBDEs cause liver, thyroid and neurological damage in lab rats.  Health experts worry most about PBDEs potential harm to fetuses and children under 6, but studies on human toxicity have only just begun.

Bisphenol A:
A chemical used to make plastics hard.  It’s in polycarbonate plastic products such as baby bottles, hard water bottles and food containers, as well as in the resin lining of aluminum cans and some dental sealants.  A study published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology found a link between bisphenoal A and female reproductive disorders such as cystic ovaries and cancers.  In August, an expert panel from the National Institutes of Health expressed concern that bisphenol A may harm children and adults and recommended more research be done

Perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOAs):
Chemicals used to make nonstick and stain-resistant products such as nonstick frying pans and water-resistant materials.  PFOAs have been shown to cause developmental problems and liver toxicity in lab rats.  Animal studies have caused concern among health experts about PFOAs’ toxicity to humans since they stay in the body for years at a time between exposures.  Some studies have suggested that PFOAs are human carcinogens.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs):
Chemicals used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment as well as older models of microwaves and refrigerators.  They were banned in the US in the late 1970s, but they are long-lasting compounds that persist in the environment.  The EPA calls PCBs a “probable carcinogen,” meaning they probably cause cancer.  PCBs have been associated with immunological and psychosocial problems in children, such as changes in motor skills and a decrease in short-term memory.  In adults, PCBs have been associated with rashes, acne and liver damage.