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STUDY: Testing reveals scores of substances in study volunteers
JOURNAL: Environmental Working Group
AUTHORS: Jane Houlihan
ABSTRACT: When scientists sampled Andrea Martin’s blood and urine to see what toxins she’d picked up from the world around her, she got a surprise. “I had 95 chemical contaminants in my little body. And it was very mind blowing,” said Martin. The test results indicate that we all pick up tiny amounts of an astounding number of chemicals that are known to be dangerous in larger doses.
COMMENTARY: Martin and eight others were tested by Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York and an advocacy organization called the Environmental Working Group.
On average, the nine participants had traces of 53 chemicals known to cause cancer in human or animal tests. In addition, they had an average of 62 chemicals toxic to the brain or nervous system, plus 55 associated with birth defects.
The scientists did not find any single substance in amounts the government describes as unhealthy, but said the sheer number of chemicals was unnerving, especially given the uncertainty about the health effects of trace amounts.
"This is irrefutable proof that humans carry in their bodies scores of industrial contaminants, most of which didn’t exist 75 years ago,” said Jane Houlihan, co-author of the study.
Scientists have found chemicals called pthalates, which are known to cause birth defects in animals, in many personal care items like makeup, hairspray, soap and also plastic food wrap.
Other chemicals found in the participants’ bodies target the nervous system, including: Acetone in nail polish synthetic fragrances in perfume and soap, poisons in weed killers and bug sprays, perchloral ethyline in dry cleaners, zylene in paint which can also cause organ damage.
For those intent on avoiding even traces of toxic chemicals, the study’s authors suggest eating organic produce, minimizing fatty foods since chemicals concentrate in body fat, minimizing the use of beauty products, avoiding stain removers and avoiding seafood known to be high in mercury.
These precautions may be more hassle than many care to deal with, but the scientists in charge of the study say it is amazing how many potentially toxic chemicals get in our bodies.