Toxicologists Starkville MS
By Matthew Solan
Each morning I take a hot shower, shampoo, and shave. I may stop at the gas station while I’m out and about, and in the evening, I enjoy grilling fish and relaxing on the couch with the Discovery Channel. An ordinary day, yet in that brief span, I’ve exposed myself to a platoon of environmental toxins that will attack my body—their sneaky blows often coming to light only many years later. From cosmetics alone, “every day you’re exposed to more than 160 unique ingredients, some of which have known hazards while most are poorly studied,” says Kristan Markey, a researcher with the Environmental Working Group, a watchdog organization in Washington, DC. You inhale them, absorb them through your skin, and eat them in your food.
The good news is that you can take in small amounts of toxins without harm—your body either excretes them or neutralizes them in the liver. Any toxin that manages to hang around, generally does so in too minute a quantity to inflict any real damage. Besides, in the past, you rarely got bombarded by a single toxin for very long.
Times have changed, however. The increase in smog and water pollution and in the number of personal-care products and household goods packed with potentially harmful chemicals has ramped up the toxic load with which your body has to contend. The real danger now comes from the low-dose, chronic exposure you often don’t even notice. For example, the typical woman applies 12 personal-care products a day. If each of them contains phthalates (harmful chemicals found in cosmetics and plastics), those tiny separate exposures begin to add up. Even pouring water a thimble at a time eventually fills the glass.
What’s more, a growing body of evidence suggests that different toxins may interact with on another in strange—and often alarming—ways in the body. When combined, they seem to have a synergistic effect, harming one’s health much more in concert than alone. Toxicologists have dubbed this the “cocktail effect.” Research done by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, for instance, found that mixing together two types of phthalates at theoretically safe levels triggered mutations in the reproductive organs of rat fetuses. When you’re dealing with toxins, the whole is clearly more than the sum of the parts. Many doctors and researchers now link this slow-brewing stew of chemicals to increased risk for various chronic diseases, including cancer, respiratory illness, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease. “What is clear is that multiple toxic materials, in use on the job and even in the home, can cause a variety of different health problems,” says Paul Blanc, MD, an expert in occupational and environmental medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of How Everyday Products Make People Sick (University of California Press, 2007). “In some c...
Author: Matthew Solan
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