In Greek mythology, Pandora opened a box which contained what seemed to be a wonderful gift, but it turned out to be a curse. Many toxins in our world seemed like a gift in the beginning, but became a curse on our health and society.
When lead was first discovered in 3000 BC it seemed like the perfect metal. You could shape it, bend it, it never rusted, it was immortal. Lead was used to make water pipes in the Roman Empire, which some people claimed was the downfall of Rome with lead poisoning. Lead was known to be toxic by the year 1900 which didn’t stop industry from using it in nearly everything, including gasoline as an anti-knock compound. Lead based paints meant that the paint lasted longer than the painter. Eventually the evidence against lead became overwhelming and it was banned in 1996 as a gasoline additive, but still used widely in car batteries, etc. Lead can cause immune suppression, heart disease, cancer, and more. Not only does lead affect anyone exposed to it, but lead workers bringing home trace amounts on their clothing severely damage the mental and physical health of their children at home.
Mercury followed a similar path. Found in Egyptian tombs dating to 1500 BC, mercury was thought to be the perfect metal with abnormal melting points. Mercury was a treatment for venereal disease for centuries. Mercury would arrive at the dentist office in a hazardous waste EPA toxin special container, then dentists globally put 1 billion mercury fillings annually in human mouths. Mercury can cause autism, heart disease, cancer, immune suppression, and more. Mercury is one of the most toxic non-radioactive substances on earth. Mercury is found in many vaccines and most large predatory fish, like shark and swordfish.
Of the 10 million tons of toxic substances released annually by industry around the world, 2 million tons are probable carcinogens. Of the 80,000 chemicals in use in the USA, 60,000 were released without any data on safety in humans. The burden of proof rests on society to prove something is hazardous. Not easy to do when you realize that asbestos was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, because they could not prove that asbestos was toxic. Asbestos has been banned in most developed countries, but still used in many developing countries and now kills at least 255,000 people each year around the world.
43% of Americans breathe air that is unsafe, according to the American lung association. We add 1 billion pounds of pesticides to our food crops annually. Of the 3000 food additives in the American food supply, FDA has no knowledge of at least 1000 of these, due to loopholes in the law via “generally regarded as safe” or GRAS status. 70% of Americans drink tap water that, by law, must contain fluoride, a known poison. 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Water Drinking Act.
Then the whole toxin issue got complicated. Scientists attempting to uncover the toxicity of a substance would “compress time” using animal studies. Scientists would give a higher dose of the substance in question assuming that they could save time and discover the LD-50, or Lethal Dose required to kill 50% of the animals. Let’s say that 6 weeks of 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight killed 50% of the animals. From that number, scientists would calculate what they considered a safe dosage. But they could not foresee the subtle health effects of “gender benders” or hormone disrupters. Nor could they foresee the synergistic toxicity of multiple toxin exposure: 1+1=500 or so.
At first it seemed like persistent organic pollutants (nearly everything we use in industry and commercial agriculture) might lower sperm count and increase the risk for breast cancer. Then researchers found that amounts well below the LD50 for a substance could induce hypothyroidism in many people, including a mother’s unborn child. Hypothyroidism is now at epidemic levels in developed countries.
The Environmental Working Group conducted a study examining the placental blood of 10 newborn babies randomly chosen from a Red Cross national cord blood collection program…not because the mothers worked near any chemicals. Of the 287 different chemicals detected in the newborn’s cord blood, 180 cause cancer and 217 cause nervous system problems. Included in this hit parade of poisons was pesticides, mercury, Teflon, Scotchgard, and wastes from coal, gasoline, and garbage. In newborns. Imagine what is in your body, unless you make a concerted effort to limit your intake of toxins and make a heroic effort at eliminating the toxins already in your body.
There is a Great Pacific Garbage Patch with at least 80,000 tons of discarded plastic covering an area of 620,000 square miles, or twice the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Plastic has found its way into the food chain of fish. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. We need to do something. Quickly.
This article could have been a thousand pages long, rich in scientific references, boring, and depressing. We walk on the sunny side of the street here. Let’s summarize the categories of toxins we face in modern society. Next week we will provide you with a concise and realistic game plan to reduce toxins in your body and your life. You will be surprised at the gradual improvement in your health problems.
To summarize the issue of toxins and your health, let me quote the NASA space shuttle returning from the moon: “Houston, we have a problem”. They solved their problem. And we can solve ours.
Toxins could be categorized as:
- Volatile organic chemicals, from industry and agriculture
- Drugs, prescription and recreation
- Fungal by products, e.g. aflatoxin
- Heavy metals, including mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum and other metals
- Auto-intoxication, as by products from our gut, especially for those with an imbalance in gut microbiome
- Electromagnetic fields, cell phone towers, WiFi, high voltage power lines, radar, etc.
- Radiation, X-rays, radioactive fallout, sunlight, etc.