From the moment of conception to the end of life, our bodies play host to a myriad of industrial chemicals that cross into our bloodstream through our skin, gut, or lungs. They are consumer product ingredients (like cosmetics) or pollutants in air, water and food. They are fire retardants, grease-proof coatings, plasticizers, and solvents. They are our personal body burden of pollution.
Since 2000, a group of scientists in Washington DC, the Environmental Working Group, has spearheaded a series of groundbreaking investigations on the pollution in people, from newborns and grandparents to mothers and teens. They've found pollutants in everyone. And they've found hundreds altogether, in combinations that have never been tested for safety. The personal pollution revealed by these studies exposes disturbing gaps in the scientific understanding of our exposures and in our system of public health protection. Transcending all boundaries of race, faith, income, and geography, this is the pollution that is in all of us and in our families; it speaks powerfully to our need to understand the risks of exposure to these chemicals and to protect those most vulnerable among us, including children who are exposed even before the moment of birth.
The research done by the Environmental Working Group has found that 457 of 538 chemicals tested were found in the blood, urine, cord blood of infants, and breast milk from a sample of 94 people. (For the complete results of the study go to http://www.ewg.org/bodyburden/results.php )
Are these chemicals and toxic metals related to disease? The Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) is a diverse network of over 2600 healthcare providers and academic researchers in 40 countries and 48 states, working collectively to advance knowledge and effective action to address growing concerns about the links between human health and environmental factors. They have developed a database I use in my practice to help patients understand the links between their exposures and their health problems. http://database.healthandenvironment.org/intro.cfm