What is Environmental Toxicity?
Environmental toxicity occurs when toxins we encounter in our daily lives build up in the body and create a negative impact on health. Because we don’t live in a bubble, we come into contact with toxins in all different places-including our own homes-nearly every day. Where are all of these toxins and how do they get into our bodies? Toxins enter our bodies via things we eat and drink, the air we breathe, and are even absorbed through our skin. Various types of industries in the US have collectively created over 84,000 different chemicals since 1930, a large number of which have had toxic properties. The average household in America has 62 toxic chemicals in the home at any given time-and that’s before we ever step outside our front door. Each person is unique and can have very different reactions to different toxins than another person, however, researchers have noticed a correlation between the increasing number of toxins in our daily environment and the increase of people who experience chronic illnesses and cancer.
How do environmental toxins affect the body?
Environmental toxins can have a number of negative effects on the body, here are just a few:
- Suppression and dysregulation of the immune system
- Increased asthma and allergies
- Difficulty with learning and memory
- Endocrine disruption
- Increased risk and severity of certain cancers
- Build-up of toxins in the brain, known as neurotoxins*
*This last bullet is important to note because the brain is the control center of the body, like a conductor directing an orchestra, the brain directs the activity of all of the other systems in the body. Many toxins are fat-soluble, meaning they are attracted to and settle into fatty tissues. 60% of the brain is made up of fatty tissues, which makes the brain a very attractive place for toxins to accumulate-right where they can do the most damage to multiple body functions. Once toxins make their way into brain tissues, the body has a very difficult time removing them, which allows them to build up over time and cause damage.
What are the sources of environmental toxins?
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to avoid all toxins, but it is possible to make different choices to reduce exposures to toxins in daily life. To reduce exposure to toxins, it’s important to know the various sources of toxins around us.
- Pesticides and agricultural run-off
- Industrial waste released into the air and water
- Toxins from water-damaged buildings
- Building materials, insulation, carpet and vinyl adhesive, plumbing materials, and paint
- Preservatives, dyes, and other additives in foods
- Plastics from water bottles, flexible food packages, and can liners
- Household cleaning products and detergents
- Treatments applied to upholstery
- Air fresheners and many types of candles
- Cosmetics, skin care products, and body care products
- Vehicle exhaust and vapors from gas pumps/stations
- Cigarette smoke
Avoiding environmental toxins
There are many things you can do to lessen your exposure to environmental toxins. First, positive lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking (if you smoke) and choosing organic food as much as possible, can greatly reduce your toxin exposure. Don’t buy processed food and avoid food additives or preservatives. Choosing all-natural and non-caustic/non-toxic cleaning products and detergents can help eliminate toxins in your home. Also, don’t use commercial air fresheners and candles – these are significant contributors to indoor air pollution and inhaled toxins. Have your water tested for toxins and invest in a filtration system. If you experience water damage to your home, have it remediated correctly by a properly-trained professional to prevent mold and biotoxin exposure caused by water damage to buildings.