Toxins & Health
A huge part of creating a healthy home is building and filling it with non-toxic/safer items. That can be really hard to do when you don’t know what is toxic and what is not and why. I put together this list of some of the most helpful databases to help you navigate which products will be best for your healthy lifestyle and home.
Despite living in an age with more access to information, education, and healthy food, as well as advancements in medicine, we continue to get sicker and sicker.
At the same time that these chronic diseases are increasing, so are the amounts of chemicals.
In the graph below, you can see that there has been an enormous increase in the amount of synthetic chemicals in the U.S. and has only continued to increase as time has gone on and more and more chemicals are able to be combined and created for various purposes.
You are probably thinking, “Well, just because there is an increase in chronic disease and chemicals in the environment, doesn’t mean that the disease increase is caused by the chemicals in our environment” and you would be totally right! It doesn’t.
You have to remember that this increase isn’t due to one cause, rather it’s a bunch of factors. Study after study is finding that one of these main factors is the increasing number of synthetic chemicals.
LIST STUDIES AND LINK THEM HERE
Here’s an example of the link between chemicals and health using a graph showing the percentage increase of overweight adults merged with the graph of the increase in chemical production. Makes you think right? Even with that data, it still doesn’t show causation, but a very prominent correlation.
So to get a better idea of whether or not these chemicals are causing health issues, we have to look at the research studies showing a direct cause and effect relationship between a certain chemical and the health of humans.
A perfect example of this is the research done on Blood lead levels from 1960-2012. As you can see, there has been a dramatic decrease from 60 μg/dL to now 5 μg/dL with the number cutting in half from 60 μg/dL to 30 μg/dL in one decade. With this decrease there was also a decrease in lead associaiated health issues
Why though? What changed?
awareness of the hazards of low levels of lead exposure among young children has led public health authorities to progressively lower the BLL considered elevated from 60 μg/dL (mid-1960s) to 10 μg/dL (1991).
And on the opposite end we see the lead levels prior to the lead law enacted in 1973 banning lead and the response to that change of lead in the body.
Now I want to pause here and remind you of what I said above, NOT ALL CHEMICALS ARE BAD, (water is a chemical!) but some are.
chronic illness is on the rise even though we are living in an age where we have education, technology, access to healthy food, advancements in medicine we are just getting sicker and sicker.
not due to one cause, really a plethora of causes but with the primary one being the increase in synthetic chemicals used in commerce
graph shows obesity increasing as the number of chemicals also increases over time. now this isn’t to say it is the causation but there is a high correlation
chemical manufacturing began in the 1930’s at the beginning of the industrial revolution (DUPONT)
since wwII production of chemicals in the us alone increased more than 20 fold
since 1979 the number of chemicals has grown by over 30%
When you look at the rates of the most prevalent health issues we can see they are on a similar upward trajectory; cancers, diabetes, chrons, autoimmune uptick. diseases
disease is increasing faster than can be explained by genetics.
according to NIH only 5-10 % of cancers can be attributed to genetics with 90-95% due to environment. environment can be everything from smoking, diet, alcohol, stress, obesity, environmental chemicals.
functional medicine doctors agree that exposure to these toxins is the primary driver of disease
toxicity is linked to every condition people are struggling with today
heres the problem: most health practitioners do not know much about environmental exposures because it is not a part of their education.
the average md only has 19-21 hours of education on nutrition (literally the foundation of health) education on environmental toxins is far less
a 2016 article on the website of american association of medical colleges sums up the problem
other professionals such as nutritionists, midwives, health coaches may have little to no training at all on environmental toxins from a medical perspective.
in the us we spend 87% inside and 3-4% in the car and therefore we need to address the chemicals we are exposed to in our homes
Worldwide the number of chemicals in commerce is estimated to be between 100,000 –
150,000 but since registration of chemicals happens differently all over the world it’s impossible
to get an accurate count. Not all of these chemicals are bad or harmful. In fact, many of them
have made our lives easier, better, safer, and in fact longer, but many others have proven to
The core federal policy in the United States responsible for regulating chemicals – the Toxic
Substances Control Act was passed back in 1976. TSCA took an “innocent until proven guilty”
approach, which meant that chemicals did not need to undergo testing prior to being released
into the marketplace, and that the only way for the EPA to actually regulate a chemical was to
prove it was harmful after the fact.
Because of loopholes and unclear language in this law, it became nearly impossible for TSCA
to actually do much. It was considered a “toothless” law by many.
In the United States there are approximately 86,000 chemicals registered for use in
commerce.1 This includes 62,000 chemicals that were grandfathered in when the Toxic
Substances Control Act was passed.2 This means 62,000 chemicals were given a free pass
and an automatic presumption of safety without any requirement to actually test to see if they
were indeed safe.
According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, the EPA has used its
authorities to require testing of fewer than 200 of the 62,000 chemicals in commerce when EPA
began reviewing chemicals under TSCA in 1979.
This report also stated “EPA has rarely banned, limited the production, or restricted the use of
existing chemicals. Since the Congress enacted TSCA in 1976, EPA has issued regulations
under the act to ban or limit the production or restrict the use of only five existing chemicals or
These are the 5 substances that the EPA has restricted or banned:
• Hexavalent Chromium
• Polychlorinated biphenols (PCB)
And even these 5 are not being regulated adequately: hexavalent chromium is a widespread
contaminant in drinking water4, asbestos containing products are still on the market5, and
dioxins are commonly found as contaminants in consumer products.
So the bottom line here is that very few, likely around 1% of chemicals in commerce have
actually been tested for safety. But even those that are tested, aren’t tested in a way that
assures their safety.
Most toxicology testing is looking for effects from acute exposures at high doses. Studies on
rodents – the gold standard of toxicology testing – are typically only 90 days long. Clearly this is
not enough to determine if long term exposure is harmful.
Of those 86,000 chemicals there are about 2,500 that are classified has HPV or High
Production Volume, which means that they are produced or imported in the United States in
quantities of 1 million pounds or more per year and these are the ones we’re more likely to be
exposed to on a daily basis.
And exposed we are: for over 30 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has
been looking for and finding chemicals in the US population, and tracking them in their longrunning biomonitoring studies, specifically NHANES or the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
NHANES is population-based survey designed to collect information on the health and nutrition
of the U.S. household population. This is the research that has found hundreds of
environmental chemicals or their metabolites in urine, blood, serum, and breast milk from
pesticides and heavy metals, to non-stick chemicals and flame retardants.
The CDC’s most recent report shows more than 200 man-made chemicals inside us7, although there are likely many, many more, as these studies are only looking for a limited number of chemicals. Some of these chemicals consistently show up in more than 98% of people tested, which indicates that exposure is ubiquitous.
It’s these nationwide studies that provide us with insight into how widespread exposures are,
and give plenty of data to comb through to find trends and associations.
Human biomonitoring studies are what allowed us to track the positive effect of taking lead out
of gasoline in the 1970’s for example; by tracking blood lead levels, we could see that they
began to drop almost immediately after the phase out.
That these tests even exist should tell you that exposure to environmental chemicals is a
Here are a few snapshots from their most recent report: The graph on the left shows the levels
of methyl mercury in people, showing that blood levels of mercury increase with age (we’ll talk
about mercury in depth in Module 2 in our lesson on seafood).
The second image is showing that there is widespread contamination to certain industrial
chemicals; polybrominated flame retardants9 (I teach about these inside my advanced
Certificate Course), and bisphenol-a and perfluorinated chemicals, both of which you’ll learn
more about in our next Module
We don’t just get exposed to these industrial chemicals throughout our lives; we get exposed
to them before our lives even truly begin.
In 2009 the Environmental Working group tested the umbilical cord blood of 10 babies for toxic
chemicals, and found more than 280 industrial pollutants, including 180 carcinogens, 217
neurotoxins, and 208 reproductive toxins.
If we’re wondering why more and more children are experiencing serious chronic health issues
from such a young age, whether it’s childhood cancers, or autism, or behavioral issues, we
absolutely must consider the role these chemical exposure are playing.
In May of 2010, the President’s Cancer Panel, whose mission is to monitor the activities of the
National Cancer Program and report to the President on the things that are holding us back
from making progress in reducing incidence and burden of cancer, released their 2008-2009
report titled “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now”. This report echoed
what much of the research was pointing to (and continues to point to); that exposure to toxic
chemicals is an important and under-recognized risk factor for cancer.
This 240 page report opens with an acknowledgement that our government agencies are
“failing to carry out their responsibilities” and that “the true burden of environmentally induced
cancer has been grossly underestimated.”
They go on to write: “the grievous harm from this group of carcinogens has not been addressed
adequately by the National Cancer Program. The American people—even before they are born
—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The
Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”
The Toxic Substances Control Act, flawed as it was, finally got a long overdue updated in the
summer of 2016, 40 years after it was enacted.
Even though this new law is better than the original TSCA, in practice it will still take decades
upon decades, if not centuries to make any real dent in reviewing chemicals in commerce and
if necessary, phasing out or banning them.
TSCA doesn’t regulate all chemicals in commerce, only certain types of chemicals. Pesticides
for example are regulated by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The
Food and Drug Administration regulates foods (except for aspects of some meat, poultry and
egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture); human and
veterinary drugs; vaccines and other biological products; medical devices intended for human
use; radiation-emitting electronic products; cosmetics; dietary supplements, and tobacco
And the only law regulating cosmetics, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act hasn’t been
updated since it was written in 1938. Yup – I didn’t mis-speak; that’s 80 years ago.
At this rate, we cannot wait for government to step in and protect us; as consumers the onus is
unfortunately on us to be proactive and look after our own health and wellness.
But there is good news: the landscape is changing.
As more and more people become aware, informed and engaged, the landscape is starting to
shift. Large scale retailers like Costco, Walmart, and Target have begun to respond to
consumers demands for safer, less toxic products by either phasing out certain highly
scrutinized chemicals, or putting in place better labeling and disclosure requirements. In March
of 2019 retail giant Costco apparently will no longer sell Monsanto’s Roundup products
This is huge! This means that the tide is starting to turn. And the more consumers who demand
changes, the faster this will happen, and with greater depth.
Landscapes are always changing – they are dynamic. And the landscape of toxins is no
different. The wave of consumers who are fed up with being sick, fed up with conventional
medicine not being able to help them, fed up with claims of “trust us, it’s safe!”, fed up with
lack of transparency are driving this change in a big way.
As individuals you are part of that change already. But every client you education, every
follower who gets turned on to clearer eating, and cleaner, less toxic products is also an agent
This is how I want to see change happen; I want it to ripple out from me to you, and from you
to all the thousands of people you can reach, so we can shift this landscape around toxicity in
a big and meaningful way!
there is hope we just have to demand and take action and the best way to do that is to educate ourselves and others
https://www.ewg.org/californiacosmetics/toxic12 people want change
its a problem for so many other reasons too such as race and environmental justice , you can read my personal story with chemicals here, sustainability and climate change, socioeconomic issues,