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Long-term Implications of Environmental Toxicity

Over the past 6 years scientific research has shown that our bodies are reservoirs for toxic chemicals. Some of the chemicals found have been banned for many years but can still be found in the fat tissue of test subjects many years later, along with an estimated 700 other pollutants [1]. This is called bioaccumulation and is the process by which animals and humans repeatedly ingest chemicals over time via air, food, and/or water or by skin exposure and these compounds accumulate in our blood and tissue.

In a landmark study done in 2002 conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 116 different chemicals were found in the urine and blood of 2500 test subjects [2]. In a similar study 167 chemicals, pesticides, and pollutants were found in 9 average individuals from around the United States. Of the 167 chemicals found in these individuals, 76 of the chemicals found were cancer causing, 94 were known to be toxic to the brain and nervous system, 77 were harmful to the immune system, and lastly 79 have been proven to cause birth defects. Furthermore, the chemicals and chemical residues found were chemicals found in our everyday environment [3]. The implications of these studies show that the chemical contamination of our food supply, our air, our water, our homes and communities has the capacity to impact the health of our children negatively. This occurs because the chemicals in our environment are largely classified as carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, neurotoxins and reproductive disrupters and are linked in part to an EPIDEMIC rise in cancer, eczema, asthma, ADHD, neurological disorders and chemical sensitivities we are seeing in our medical practices.

Cancer incidence has increased to epidemic proportions. Cancer levels are up 56% in men and 22% in women since the 1940’s. In the US alone 1.3 million people get cancer each year and 550,000 of these people will die of cancer. The incidence of cancer correlates well with the Industrial Age and the introduction and use of tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals. A similar correlation can be found when investigating the dramatic rise in many other childhood diseases.

Part of the problem lies in the lax regulation of chemical manufacturing, distribution and labeling. In Canada and the United States the laws to a certain degree protect commercial interests rather than protecting our families. Under the current legislation it is left up to the public to definitively prove a product is harmful to the environment or a detriment to our health. Often this comes too late. In such cases a proactive approach to protect our children is necessary to preserve our future and to teach the next generation and reduce the contamination of our food, air and water supplies. Below is a chart that outlines chemical products that we use in our everyday life to keep our houses clean and the known health risks associated with them. Alternatives to these products include good old-fashioned baking soda, vinegar, basic soap and water. With these few items you can effectively clean your entire house without putting your children at undue risk.

ALKANOL AMINES Carcinogenic precursors All purpose cleaners
ALKYL ETHANOL Hormone disruptors Laundry detergents
All-purpose cleaners
AMYL ACETATE Neurotoxin Furniture polishes
All-purpose cleaners
Window cleaners
Spray cleaners
Scouring powders
Severe irritant
Scouring powders
Toilet bowl cleaners
CRESOL Liver/kidney toxin, neurotoxin Disinfectants
CRYSTALLINE SILICA Carcinogenic All purpose cleaners
Scouring powders
DICHLOROISOCYANURATE Reproductive, developmental, and immune system disruptor Tub and tile cleaners
Scouring powders
Dishwasher detergents
DIETHANOLAMINES Carcinogenic Detergents
Dish liquids
All-purpose cleaners
DIOXANE Immunosuppressant
Window cleaners
Laundry detergents
Dish liquids
ETHYLENE GLYCOL Neurotoxin All purpose cleaners
FORMALDEHYDE Carcinogen Deodorizers
GLYCOL ETHERS Reproductive toxin
Liver kidney toxin
All-purpose cleaners
Window cleaners
Spray cleaners
Scouring powders
METHYLENE CHLORIDE Carcinogen, Neurotoxin
Liver/kidney toxin
Linked to heart disease
MORPHOLINE Liver/Kidney Toxin All-purpose cleaners
NAPTHALENE Carcinogen, Kidney toxin, linked to Cataracts Toilet cleaners
Carpet cleaners
NITROBENZENE Liver/kidney toxin Polishes
P-DICHLOROBENZENE Neurotoxin, Hormonal disruptor, Carcinogen Deodorizers
Moth balls
PHOSPHORIC ACID Corrosive skin toxicant Tub and tile cleaners
Toilet cleaners
PHENOL Highly toxic, General poison Polishes
Mold/Mildew cleaners
STODDARD SOLVENT Neurotoxin Degreasers
Spot removers
XYLENE Reproductive/developmental
toxin, Neurotoxin, Kidney toxin

Hollender J., Davis G., Hollender M., Reed D., Naturally Clean New Society Publishers, 2006, pages 61-62

As parents it can quite overwhelming once you take a cold hard look at all the sources of toxicity in our children’s direct environment. It may not be possible to eliminate all the sources of toxicity but we can certainly limit toxic components in our direct environment. As parents we can reduce our families exposure by just being mindful of the items we buy and use. Additionally, If your child is not meeting regular developmental milestones, or suffers from eczema, asthma, or is displaying behaviour problems it may warrant a visit to a Naturopathic Doctor to have toxicity ruled out.

Kimberley Dare, Bsc, ND

1US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Toxic Substances. “Analysis of Human Adipose Tissue, Volume 1: Technical Approach, “ (online) (cited May2005), 1987, []
2Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “ Second National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals” (online)(cited may 2005), Jan 2003, []
3The Environmental Working Group, Body Burden. The Pollution in People. Executive Summary: What We found,” (online)(cited Oct 2004), ["]

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