Dr. Katie Weststrate, MScCH, ND.
As the snow melts, our ditches come to reveal just how much garbage is made, and sadly dumped, into our environment on a daily basis. What isn’t so obvious are all of the other indoor and outdoor environmental toxins we are swimming in: invisible toxins in our air, water, foods, furnishings and beauty products. Nor are the health impacts of these toxins obvious to the naïve bystander.
The Environmental Working Group found a total of 287 chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood from 10 healthy babies born in 2004 in US hospitals. No matter how ‘clean’ our lifestyle, none of us can escape this noxious exposure, it begins in utero! Many of our most pervasive environmental toxins, including lead, mercury, cadmium, PCBs, dioxins, and pesticides like organochlorines and organophosphates have significant impact on our neurodevelopment with impacts ranging from mental or physical growth retardation, to deficits in psychomotor development, behavioural regulation, attention span, and IQ.
In his book ‘The Toxin Solution,’ Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND cites studies showing that approximately 50 per cent of ADHD is due to just three toxins, 50 per cent of diabetes is linked to phthalates, arsenic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and almost 45 per cent of Alzheimer’s is linked to DDT toxicity.
Many of the chemicals still in use today are known carcinogens (cause cancer) and endocrine (hormone) disruptors. In addition, numerous studies have been published linking various environmental toxins to the development of allergies, asthma and auto-immune conditions including lupus, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Clearly, we need to be more aware of the impact these toxins may have on our health, and what we can do about it!
So what’s the good news? We CAN do something about this!
Get tested for toxin exposure
If you are concerned you may be suffering with an environmental health related condition, speak to your health care provider about testing for toxin exposure. Remember to include an assessment for both acute or current exposure, as well as past exposure; request testing to assess for levels that may have accumulated over time and be stored in your tissues. If your testing and/or health history indicates indoor (eg, molds, fungi, chemicals) or outdoor toxin exposure has been an issue for you, there are ways to address this and to support your body in removing these noxious substances!
Buy local foods
Reduce the amount of chemical spray and transportation emissions involved in getting food to your table. Choose organic where possible.
Reduce dust in your home
House dust retains a lot of toxins, keep dust and chemical exposure at bay by removing shoes immediately, using a HEPA filter in your home furnace/filtration system and vacuum. Consider investing in a water filter if your water is heavily treated or contaminated.
Use enviro-friendly products
Choose consumer and cleaning products that are environmentally friendly, containing no phthalates, parabens, VOCs, fragrance or chlorine. Utilise oxygen bleach and simple home cleaners like baking soda and vinegar or commercially available healthier options.
For more about environmental toxicity and what you can do to reduce your exposure, visit the Environmental Working Group’s website: EWG.org and the website for Physicians for Social Responsibility www.psr.org.