The Top Five Toxins:

What Are They And How To Reduce Your Risks Of Exposure

By Janet Smith, PEERtrainer Health and Fitness Writer
Today’s conveniences and technological advances have come with a price - namely hundreds, maybe even thousands of toxins, chemicals and other materials that are harmful to our bodies.   Our water, our food, and the air we breathe can all contain toxins. 

One of the major problems is with most toxins, you can’t see, smell, taste or feel them. We don’t know these toxins are affecting us until a disease or chronic health condition presents itself after many years of exposure to toxins. 

Last year the Columbia University School of Public Health presented a study estimating that roughly 95% of cancers are a result of diet and environmental toxicity.  A few of the statistics from that study include:

•    Over 3000 chemicals are added to food.
•    Over 10,000 chemical solvents, emulsifiers and
      preservatives are used to process food.
•    77,000 chemicals are produced in North America
•    1,000 new chemicals are brought to use each year

Estimates are that Americans have between 400-800 chemicals stored in their body.  Numerous disease and health conditions are attributed to toxic substances. 
The following toxins are the five most prevalent in our environment and/or our food supply.

1. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls): These have been banned in the U. S. for a number of years, yet are still present in our environment.
Risks: Cancer, impaired fetal brain development
Major Source:  Farm-raised salmon, which accounts for most of the supply in the U.S., are fed meals of ground-up fish that have absorbed PCBs in the environment.
2. Pesticides: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. Pesticide residues have been detected in 50 percent to 95 percent of U.S. foods.
Risks: Cancer, Parkinson's disease, miscarriage, nerve damage, birth defects, blocking the absorption of food nutrients
Major Sources: Food (fruits, vegetables and commercially raised meats), bug sprays
3.Mold: One in three people have an allergic reaction to mold.
Risks: Cancer, heart disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis, diabetes
Major Sources: Contaminated buildings, food like peanuts, corn, wheat, and alcohol.
4. Phthalates: These chemicals soften plastics and lengthen the life of fragrances.
Risks: Endocrine system damage
Major Sources: plastic bottles plastic wrap, plastic food storage containers.
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.
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.

While it’s impossible to avoid all environmental toxins, you can take steps to reduce your risks. 
•    Avoid processed foods
•    Use natural cleaning products
•    Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners
     or other synthetic fragrances.
•    As much as possible buy and eat organic foods. 

For more information, please visit the EPA.
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