TOXINS IN YOUR BLOOD

ABSTRACT: Did you know that there are most probably dozens of toxic chemicals in your blood? These are likely to include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and pesticides, including DDT, all of which are toxic to humans. We are all test subjects largely unknowingly in a huge chemical exposure experiment.

There are roughly 75,000 chemicals in use in the US and only about 500 of them have been tested for health risks. Many of the chemicals found in our blood are long-lasting in the environment and in our bodies. The impacts of the combinations of these chemicals that we all have in our blood have never been looked at.

None of us were asked if it was OK to expose us to these chemicals. Therefore, some people refer to this as “toxic trespass.” These toxins are trespassing in our bodies without our permission. From a common sense perspective, and certainly from a public health perspective, it doesn’t make sense to expose people to toxic chemicals and then engage in a debate about what level of them is safe.

Future posts will address related topics such as how we got to this point, what the possible impacts are, and what we can do about this.

FULL POST: Did you know that there are most probably dozens of toxic chemicals in your blood? These include chemicals from consumer products, plastics, pesticides, flame retardants, and non-stick coatings on cookware, as well as industrial chemicals. We are all test subjects – largely unknowingly –in a huge chemical exposure experiment. Scientists call the total amalgamation of chemicals in your body your “body burden.” [1]

Bill Moyers, as part of his documentary Trade Secrets, had his blood analyzed back in 2001. He was tested for 150 chemicals and 84 were found, including 31 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 13 dioxins, and at least two pesticides, including DDT, all of which are toxic to humans. His results are typical of what any US residents could expect to find in his or her blood. The only one of the 84 that would have been found in a person’s blood, or even anywhere in the environment, 100 years ago was lead. [2]

There are roughly 75,000 chemicals in use in the US and only about 500 of them have been tested for health risks. On average, twenty new chemicals are introduced each week, generally without testing. Many of the chemicals found in our blood are long-lasting in the environment, i.e., they don’t breakdown readily and aren’t biodegradable. Many are also long-lasting in our bodies, i.e., our bodies don’t have a mechanism for breaking them down or removing them. For example, DDT was banned in the US in 1972 and PCBs in 1979, but they were still in Bill Moyers’ blood in 2001 – and are likely to be in your blood today.

The impacts of the combinations of these chemicals that we all have in our blood have never been looked at. And only a very few of these chemicals have been investigated for their impacts children or babies in utero.

None of us were asked if it was OK to expose us to these chemical. For most of them we have no choice about introducing them to our bodies, because they are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the consumer products we use. And although we have some control over the latter two categories, we often don’t know about the chemicals that are present or that we absorb into our bodies, let alone about any potential negative effects. We know that many of these chemicals can be toxic, but we don’t know at what levels or what the risks are of the current levels of them in our bodies.

Therefore, some people refer to this as “toxic trespass.” These toxins are trespassing in our bodies without our permission. [3]

From a common sense perspective, and certainly from a public health perspective, it doesn’t make sense to expose people to toxic chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens, and then engage in a debate about what level of them is safe. We should remove them from our environment to the greatest extent possible, as we did with DDT and PCBs.

Future posts will address related topics, including:

  • How this plethora of chemicals, including toxins, got into our environment and our blood
  • How regulation is failing to protect us
  • The chemical industry’s and others’ efforts to limit regulation of these chemicals
  • The role of Genetically Modified Organisms in agriculture and food in putting toxins into our bodies
  • The body burden of chemicals in babies’ and pregnant women’s blood
  • Possible impacts of our body burden and toxic trespass, especially on children
  • What’s being done about this and what you can do

 


[1]       Barnett, S., 10/6/11, “What’s your body’s chemical burden, “ The Huffington Post

[2]       Moyers, B., retrieved 5/20/13, “Moyers moment (2001): Toxins in our blood,” http://billmoyers.com/2013/05/17/moyers-moment-2001-toxins-in-our-blood

[3]       Steingraber, S., 4/19/13, “Sandra Steingraber’s war on toxic trespassers,” Bill Moyers public TV show, available at BillMoyers.com

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