The prevalence and variety of manufactured synthetic chemicals has exploded in recent decades. There have been over 4 million chemical compounds reported in the literature since 1965 with thousands added to the list each year and the health effects from most are only marginally understood. Millions of tons continue to be put into environment in a rush to create the conveniences of modern life. These chemicals have characteristics which make them a significant and urgent threat to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies these compounds as Persistent Bio-accumulative Toxins
Persistent, because like plastic, they do not break down easily. Once they enter the environment or the body they are difficult to get rid of. These manmade compounds can last for a lifetime.
Bio-accumulative, because they accumulate and store in human tissue. The majority of these synthetic chemicals are manufactured from crude oil making them organic (carbon based) and fat soluble so they can easily store in lipids or fatty tissue. Every cell in the body has fat in the cell wall, so toxic chemicals readily store in all parts of the body including the brain and nervous system.
Toxins, because they cause altered function and injury to human tissue.
Executive Summary The National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals (National Exposure Report) is a series of ongoing assessments of the U.S. population’s exposure to environmental chemicals by measuring chemicals in people’s blood and urine, also called bio-monitoring. The Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals (Fourth Report) presents exposure data for 212 environmental chemicals for the civilian, non-institutionalized U.S. population.
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Common Environmental Toxicants
Acrylamide Cotitine DEET
Disinfectants Herbicides Insecticides
Metals Naphthalene Polychlorinated Biphenyls
Phthalates Phytoestrogens Styrene
– Recently, it was discovered that acrylamide is formed when starch-rich foods, such as potatoes and some grains, are heated at temperatures used for frying and baking. Animal studies have shown that acrylamide can cause nerve damage (neuropathy), reproductive effects (reduced litter size, fetal death, male germinal cell injury, dominant lethality), and cancer (mammary, adrenal, thyroid, scrotal, uterine, and other sites) (FAO/WHO, 2005; NTP-CERHR, 2005, Rice, 2005; U.S. EPA, 2006).
Cotinine - The consequences of smoking and of using smokeless tobacco products are well known and include an increased risk for several types of cancer, emphysema, acute respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and various other disorders (U.S. DHHS, 2006). - The smoke produced by burning tobacco contains at least 250 chemicals that are toxic or carcinogenic, and more than 50 compounds present in ETS are known or reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogen (NTP, 2004). Nicotine stimulates preganglionic cholinergic receptors within peripheral sympathetic autonomic ganglia and at cholinergic sites within the central nervous system.
N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) - There are over 225 insect repellent brands containing DEET, and they range in concentration from 4% to 100%. - DEET is also used in combination with dermal sun screens (U.S.EPA, 1998). - Neurological effects in humans, including seizures and encephalopathy, have been reported as a result of self-poisoning by ingestion or excessive dermal application, (U.S. EPA, 1998).
Disinfection By-Products (Trihalomethanes) - Primary sources of DBPs are chlorinated drinking water and recreational water bodies, such as swimming pools. - In studies of rodents chronically fed high doses of either trichloromethane or bromodichloromethane, carcinomas occurred in the liver and kidney; large intestine tumors and polyps were also noted with bromodichloromethane (NCI, 1976; NTP, 1987). - It is commercially synthesized as a sunscreen for use in lotions, conditioners, and cosmetics. - It is also used as a UV stabilizer in plastic surface coatings and polymers. - Benzophenone-3 is a common ingredient in sun-blocking agents. - Benzophenone-3 has weak estrogenic activity or weak anti-androgenic activity (French, 1992; Schlecht et al., 2004; Schlumpf et al., 2001; Schreurs et al., 2005). Benzophenone-3
Triclosan - Triclosan is a phenolic diphenyl ether used for over 30 years as a preservative and antiseptic agent. - Triclosan has been added to soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, acne medications, deodorants, and wound disinfection solutions, and has also been impregnated into some kitchen utensils, toys, and medicaldevices. - Some reports show endocrine effects are observed in amphibians and fish (Foran et al., 2000; Matsumura et al., 2005; Veldhoen et al., 2007).
Herbicides and Pesticides
Acetochlor - Acetochlor is a chloroacetanilide type herbicide with restricted usage for preemergent control of grasses and broadleaf weeds on agricultural crop land, mainly corn. - General population exposure to acetochlor may occur through diet or drinking water. - Acetochlor has not shown developmental or fetal toxicity in chronic animal studies, but it has produced testicular atrophy, renal injury, and neurologic movement abnormalities (U.S.EPA 2000, 2006).
Propoxur - 2-Isopropoxyphenol is a metabolite of propoxur, a carbamate used to control ants, roaches, hornets, and similar pests in residential areas and around commercial food-handling establishments. - Propoxur has also been used in pest strips and pet flea ollars. - Like several other pesticides, propoxur has been used outside the U.S. as a replacement for DDT in malaria vector control. - U.S. EPA considers propoxur to be a probable human carcinogen, based on bladder tumors in male rats (U.S. EPA, 1997b).
Chlordane & Heptachlor - Both pesticides are persistent in soils and sediments and have been detected in water from agricultural run-off and near production and disposal facilities (ATSDR, 1994, 2007). - Heptachlor and chlordane and their metabolites bioaccumulate in fatty animal tissues. - Consequently, foods high in fat such as meat, fish, and dairy products are the usual sources of exposure to these chemicals in the general population. - Both of these chemicals and their metabolites can cross the placenta and are excreted into breast milk, which results in exposure to the fetus and nursing infant (Dallaire et al., 2002; Rogan, 1996; Takahashi et al., 1981). - IARC* considers chlordane and heptachlor as possibly carcinogenic to humans. *International Agency for Research on Cancer of the WHO
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) - In the general U.S. population, food,particularly meat, fish, and dairy products, continues to be the primary source of DDT exposure, although DDT and DDE intakes have decreased over time (FDA, 2008; Gunderson, 1988). - Food imported from countries that still use DDT may contain the chemical or its residues. - DDT may bind to estrogen receptors (Chen et al., 1997); and o,p’-DDD and p,p’-DDE can produce anti-androgenic effects (Gray et al., 2001).
Non-Dioxin-Like Polychlorinated Biphenyls - Once were used as heat-exchanger, transformer, and hydraulic fluids, and as additives to paints, oils, joint caulking, and floor tiles. - Food is the main source of exposure for the general population. - PCBs enter the food chain by a variety of routes, including migration into food from external sources, contamination of animal feeds, and accumulation in the fatty tissues of animals. - PCBs are found at higher concentrations in fatty foods (e.g., dairy products and fish). - Animal studies have demonstrated varied effects of PCBs including neurotoxicity, immune suppression, altered thyroid and reproductive function, and liver cancer (Carpenter, 2006; U.S.EPA, 2008).
Naphthalene - It is used in producing an assortment of chemicals: phthalate plasticizers, naphthalene sulfonates anddyes, the insecticide carbaryl, and synthetic leather tanning chemicals. - Crystalline naphthalene has been used as a moth repellent. - Humans can develop hemolytic anemia and jaundice after high dose naphthalene exposure by either inhalation or ingestion, or from skin exposure to clothing and bedding treated with naphthalene moth repellents (ATSDR, 2005).
Phytoestrogens - Two important groups ofphytoestrogens are isoflavones and lignans. - Plant sources of isoflavones include legumes, with the largest contribution coming from soy-based foods. Because soy flour and soy protein isolates may be added to processed meats, meat substitutes, breads, and protein food bars, these items can be a major source of isoflavones (Grace et al., 2004; Lampe et al., 1999). - Lignans are found in flax seeds, whole wheat flour, tea, some fruits, and other cereal grains.
- Other phytoestrogens of interest are resveratrol and trans-resveratrol,found in grape skins, wine, and peanuts.
Phthalates - Phthalates are industrial chemicals that are added to plastics to impart flexibility and resilience and are often referred to as plasticizers. - There are numerous products that contain phthalates: adhesives; automotive plastics; detergents; lubricating oils; some medical devices and pharmaceuticals; plastic raincoats; solvents; vinyl tiles and flooring; and personal-care products, such as soap, shampoo, deodorants, lotions, fragrances, hair spray, and nail polish. -Phthalates are often used in polyvinyl chloride type plastics, such as plastic bags, garden hoses, inflatable recreational toys, blood product storage bags, intravenous medical tubing, and toys (ATSDR, 2001, 2002). - Because they are not chemically bound to the plastics to which they are added, phthalates can be released into the environment during use or disposal of the product. - In vitro studies showed that certain phthalates can bind to estrogen receptors and may have weak estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity (Coldham et al., 1997; Harris et al., 1997; Jobling et al., 1995), but in vivo studies did not support phthalates having estrogenic effects (Milligan et al., 1998; Okubo et al., 2003; Parks et al., 2000; Zacharewski et al., 1998)
- Lead has a variety of uses in manufacturing: storage batteries, solders, metal alloys (e.g. brass, bronze), plastics, leaded glass, ceramic glazes, ammunition, antique-molded or cast ornaments, and for radiation shielding. - The toxic effects of lead result from its interference with the physiologic actions of calcium, zinc, and iron, through the inhibition of certain enzymes, and through binding to ion channels and regulatory proteins.
Mercury - Major uses include electrical equipment (e.g., thermostats and switches), electrical lamps, thermometers, sphygmomanometers and barometers, and dental amalgam. -At levels below those that cause acute signs and symptoms of chronic exposure may include tremor, gingivitis, and neurocognitive and behavioral disturbances, particularly irritability, depression, short-term memory loss, fatigue, anorexia, and sleep disturbance (Bidstrup et al., 1951; Smith et al., 1970; Smith et al., 1983).
Malathion - Malathion dicarboxylic acid is a metabolite of malathion, which is an organophosphorus insecticide that is used on a wide variety of agricultural crops, as well as lawns, gardens, ornamental trees, shrubs, and plants. -Malathion and other organophosphorus insecticides share a common mechanism of toxicity: inhibition of the activity of acetylcholinesterase enzymes in the nervous system, resulting in excess acetylcholine at nerve terminals, and producing acute symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, cholinegic effects, weakness, paralysis, and seizures.
Styrene - Styrene is a high production,hydrocarbon chemical used to manufacture of polystyrene resins, which are widely used in plastic packaging, disposable cups and containers, insulation, adhesives, and in composite materials such as fiberglass.
- Several studies of chronic occupational exposure to styrene reported neurological effects, including altered color vision, vestibular dysfunction, impaired hearing and altered performance on neuropsychological and neurophysiological tests (ATSDR, 2007).
Xylenes - Mixed xylenes are used widely as gasoline additives; as solvents in manufacturing and laboratory processes; in glues, adhesives, printing inks, paint thinners, and sealants; and as carrier solvents for delivery of some pesticides. - Among humans, accidental exposure to high levels of xylene in air can cause eye and mucous membrane irritation, dyspnea, and central nervous system effects, such as headaches, dizziness, forgetfulness, delayed reaction times, and poor coordination (ATSDR, 2007). ©2010, Dr. Michael Broeg. All rights reserved.
Clearsprings Health Center Harrison, AR USA