Every time you take a breath of air, eat, drink, travel or work, you could be contributing more into your body’s increasing toxic burden. According to the American Lung Association report released in 2009, about 60 percent of Americans (more than 186 million) live in environments that endanger life. This paints a grim picture of the toxic burden of the average American adult.
What Is the Toxic Burden of the Average Adult?
Toxic burden is the amount of toxins within the body. It is made up of chemicals that come from food, water, air and personal care products. These get into the body as you go about your life, work or travel. It also comes from the things you come into contact with, packaging for food and other products, farming activities and household and industrial effluent. The contamination may also come from other factors including sound and light.
Extent of the Toxic Burden
In one of its latest reports on human exposure to environmental chemicals, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicated that the average American has 212 or more chemicals in the bloodstream and urine. These chemicals come from different sources including, cooking utensils’ nonstick coating, baby care products, plastic food containers and fire retardants. It is worth to note that products in daily use such as children’s toys and plastic containers contain more than 80,000 chemicals, most of whose safety has not been established.
In another study in 2003, involving 2500 participants, the CDC found that most of the participants’ blood and urine contained many of the 116 chemicals they were testing for. These contaminants include metals, pesticides, dioxins, PCBs and furans.
Another study carried out on nine individuals by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, together with the Environmental Working Group; found that the volunteers had an average of 91 industrial chemicals in their bodies. Between them, they had 167 different chemicals of which 94 are known brain and nervous system toxins, 79 are known to cause defects or abnormal development in unborn babies and 76 are known carcinogens.
Sources of the Contamination
Various studies have established that the average adult gets into contact with hundreds of chemicals. In many cases, the amounts are higher for females who apply more personal care products to their bodies than males. One such study found that a woman typically uses 13 beauty products daily. Each of these beauty products contains an average of 20 ingredients, many of which are potentially dangerous to the skin or the body in general.
Perfumes, mascara, lipstick and lotions contain dangerous chemicals which include aluminum, harmful fragrances, dyes, preservatives and stabilizers. Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic.
Land, Water and Air Contamination
The environment, including households, the air we breathe, food and places of work contain chemicals that add to the toxic burden of the average American adult. Industrial and household waste that is placed in landfills or otherwise dumped, contributes to contamination of water and food. These kinds of toxins are in the following forms:
- Motor oil
- Paints and solvents
Air pollution happens when industries, households and automotive engines release chemicals and other materials into the atmosphere. Air contaminants may be solid or gaseous and include:
- Hazardous materials from the processes of petroleum refining, pesticide and other chemical manufacturing among others
- Soot from burning materials
- Other vaporized chemicals
The toxic burden of the average American adult is also increased by noise and light pollution. Excess noise and artificial light cause unnatural hormonal changes which lead to increased stress and stress related illnesses such as high blood pressure.
EMF. Electro-magnetic fields constitute another area of pollution that includes microwave transmissions, cell phones, wifi, and more.
Constituents of the Toxic Burden of the American Adult
While there are thousands of chemicals that can end up in your body, the following are the major components of the body burden of the average adult:
- Sulfur dioxide
- Carbon dioxide
- Carbon monoxide
The presence of these and other chemicals in different facets of our lives is the reason why the average person bears so much contamination. For this reason, it is critical that we find ways to reduce the body burden in every possible way.
Cost of the Toxic Burden
Many of the chemicals that constitute body’s toxic burden contribute to the increased disease burden ranging from respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis and allergies to endocrine problems such as hormonal disruptions; hypertension to stress and many cancers.
This causes a strain on the healthcare system. A University of New York economic analysis report estimates that the continuous exposure to hazardous chemicals, costs the United States $340 billion annually.
Ways to Reduce Your Toxic Burden
While activism is required to push for establishment of ways to curb contamination, you can take some steps to reduce your body’s toxic burden. These include:
- Choose local organic food whenever possible.
- Find out the ingredients of the personal care products that you buy or use. You can do this by reading the labels and watching out for known carcinogenic or otherwise dangerous ingredients.
- Move to cleaner living environments. Some areas such as those with a high concentration of chemical industries are known to have more foul air than others. The land may also be contaminated with chemicals. If you can move to less industrialized locations, do so.
- Eat foods that have a cleansing effect on the body. Such foods include vegetables and fruits. You can read further or contact nutritionists and dietitians for advice.
- Drink lots of water. Water is a cleansing substance both externally and internally. It is recommended that you should take water equivalent in ounces to half your body weight in pounds.
- Undergo regular detoxification of your body organs. When toxins get into your body, they end up in your bloodstream and organs such as the liver, kidneys and colon. Detoxifying regularly can help reduce the amounts of toxins.
- Regular bowel movements are an essential aspect of detoxification, both to eliminate toxins from the food and toxins produced by the 100 trillion microbes in our gut.
You can also help reduce the toxic burden of the average adult by reducing wastage of food, opting for organic packaging materials, switching off lights that are not in use and avoiding unnecessary medication.