They Don't Go Away

What's in you? (via: Gil Friend)

We make perfume from petroleum and preserve food in plastic. Our chances of dying in a building fire are almost nil. We clean bathrooms without scrubbing, spill coffee without worry of a stain.

Yet these modern wonders come with a price. As synthetic chemicals have saturated our lives, so too have they permeated our bodies.

We don't know the effect it has on our health. But scientists do have suspicions.

Autism, once an affliction of 1 in 10,000 children, today is the scourge of 1 in 166.

Childhood asthma rates have similarly exploded. And one in 12 couples of reproductive age in the United States is infertile.

Part of what we are asking people for our thesis is to tell us what they see as social and environmental issues of the day. We give them a few minutes to think about it, brainstorm with their partner, and then we talk about these issues. The respondants tend to give a lot of large issues... global warming, polluted water, overpopulation, etc... but when we ask them to identify how they are directly effected, they have a harder time.

The sad thing for me is that while, given the fact that most of the respondants live in a developed nation, and will not be around when the more obvious effects of the problems appear, one issue that already does effect them, perhaps even more so because they live in a developed nation, goes unmentioned in most cases. Few even seem to know how awash we are in syntehtic persistant chemicals. They haven't thought about what "persistant" means. DDT was outlawed in the 70s... but remember, it's persistant. It doesn't go away. Nature looks at these molecules and says "I didn't make this, it doesn't belong here, and I don't know how to break it down." Yet, we are still pumping out more and more "new and improved" checmicals every day, which, like DDT, don't go away . Think about it. If we already have enough of them in our body now that scientists are concerned, what will it be like in fifty years when none of them have gone away, but we have produced fifty more years worth?

There are organochlorine pesticides such as DDT, the pesticide that launched the modern environmental movement. Banned in the 1970s, they can be found today in our house dust, food and bodies.

PCBs, banned in 1979, similarly plague us. Decades worth of evidence shows these chemicals —predecessors of and close chemical cousins to PBDEs — don't belong in the body.

Tomoe tought me long ago not to microwave my food (especially fatty foods) in a plastic containers which may leech molecules. There is no way to be sure, but why risk it? The sad thing is of course, that this is not really something we can choose protect ourselves from by choosing certain behaviour since there is really no behaviore in today's society that can keep them away from us. (the article does provide a few suggestions)

In Emeryville, Richard Wenning is doing the same thing with chickens, finding no difference in PBDE levels between free-range organic hens and factory-farmed roasters.

The compounds are spread far and wide, in air and dust. They're taken up by plants, eaten by animals. We eat the animals and spread our sewage sludge back on the fields.

Although, suprise suprise, spending less time in front of the computer or TV and more time walking outside may be somewhat of a defense, as is becoming a vegetraian or at least cutting down on fatty foods that store many synthetic chemicals.

PCBs, dioxins, DDT, PBDEs, phthalates all love fat. Which is one reason many stick around so long, sequestered in our waistlines.

So as Jeremiah's   fat burned off, so, too, did some of his body burden, doctors surmise. It could explain why his exposures, in many instances, are lower than his children's.

He also — unwittingly — played a dangerous game, Solomon and Miller said. As the fat broke apart, contaminants were freed. Some got trapped by the bile and were eliminated. Some landed in other fat cells. And some likely migrated to nerve cells or the brain.

And for you ladies, you can purdge yourselves of these chemicals quite readily as well...

Breast milk is 4 percent fat. As Michele nursed Mikaela and then Rowan, she drained a life's accumulation of pollutants into her children.

Read more at A Body's Burden: Our Chemical Legacy

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