How Environmental Pollutants Are Harming Your Health

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Is your home or office making you sick? Along with things like food and personal care products, common environmental pollutants within your home could be harming your health. Here’s what you should know to stay safe.

Chemical pollutants do more than just harm the environment – they are also harming our health. The scary thing is, most of us use dozens of these chemicals every day without even thinking about it. Unfortunately, these environmental pollutants are also polluting our bodies, and the consequence is disease and even death.

In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that 1 out of every 4 deaths is related to toxic exposure in some way.

These toxic chemicals can come from a number of sources, but the largest contributors are likely air pollution, the food you eat, and your personal care and household products such as cleaning products, and lawn and garden chemicals.

So how can you reduce your exposure to these environmental pollutants, and lower your risk of related health problems?

One solution is to eat organic foods. Just switching to an organic diet has been shown to dramatically lower the levels of toxins in your body within just days. You can also choose to use safe, natural, and organic body care and cleaning products, and eliminate the use of chemicals in your garden and yard.

However, there may be sneaky sources of harmful chemicals in your home that you aren’t even aware of – things like your flooring and other building materials, and furniture – which may contain toxic chemicals such as flame retardants and formaldehyde.

Here are just a few recent findings regarding the effects that these environmental pollutants are having on our health:

    • Dr. David Bellinger, a professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School estimates Americans have lost a total of 16.9 million IQ points due to exposure to organophosphate pesticides.9
    • A recent report10,11 by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics12 warns that chemical exposures now represent a major threat to human health and reproduction.
    • An Endocrine Society task force also recently issued a new scientific statement13,14 on endocrine-disrupting chemicals, noting that the health effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals are such that everyone needs to take proactive steps to avoid them.
    • One in 5 cancers are thought to be due to environmental chemicals, and according to recent studies, not only can miniscule amounts of chemicals amplify each other’s adverse effects when combined,15 this even applies to chemicals deemed “safe” on their own.

Basically, the analysis16 found that the cumulative effects of non-carcinogenic chemicals can act in concert to synergistically produce carcinogenic activity—a finding that overturns and more or less nullifies conventional testing for carcinogens.


A number of common household chemicals are endocrine disruptors, meaning, they alter the normal function of your hormones. These are referred to as “endocrine disrupting chemicals” (EDCs).


Phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA) have perhaps received most of the attention over the past several years. In the European healthcare cost study above, they specifically looked at the link between phthalates and endometriosis, while uterine fibroids were associated with exposure to diphenyldichloroethene (DDE). The researchers estimate that 20 to 39 percent of uterine fibroids and endometriosis are caused by exposure to these specific chemicals.

Small but repeated EDC exposures can mimic your natural endocrine system, and this is why many experts believe there is no safe level of exposure for EDCs. The effects of in utero and early exposure to EDCs can now be seen among children and young women:

  • Children are entering puberty at younger and younger ages. In 2010, the average age of the onset of puberty was 10.5 years for girls—four years younger than in 1860, when it was 16.6 years,23 and hormone-disrupting chemicals are likely the cause.24,25
  • Early-onset of menopause is striking ever younger women. This effect was demonstrated in animal studies decades ago, and is now turning out to hold true in humans as well.

The most problematic and most costly effect of EDCs is their effect on brain development and neurological function…. As reported by National Geographic:26 “Evidence linking the pesticides and flame retardants to neurological effects was the strongest, showing ‘near certainty of causation.’” Strong evidence also exists for:

  • BPA (found in hard plastics, the lining of cans, and paper receipts)
  • Phthalates (found in soft plastics and vinyl products)
  • DDE (a breakdown product of DDT. Since it lingers in the environment, exposure still occurs via food even though DDT is no longer in use)
  • Organophosphate pesticides
  • Brominated flame retardants (PBDEs, found in older furniture and foam cushions)

BPA, DDE, and phthalates appear to be most strongly linked to obesity and diabetes. Phthalates are also linked to male27 and female gynecological effects, while flame retardants and organophosphate pesticides have the strongest neurological effects. When you consider that the average person is likely exposed to all of these in any given day, plus any number of other chemicals, it becomes evident that human health is under tremendous strain—even before birth.

A 2005 landmark study28 found a total of 287 chemicals from pesticides, consumer products, food packaging and environmental waste, including BPA, flame-retardants, PCBs, and DDT in the umbilical cord blood of infants born in the U.S.. Prenatal exposure to chemicals such as these have been linked to everything from abnormal fetal development, diminished intelligence, behavior problems, infertility, abnormal sexual maturation, metabolic dysfunction, and cancers later in life.29,30


Check out the full article at Mercola.com, and for a handy checklist of items that may be polluting your home (and some safer alternatives), visit NewHolisticLiving.com


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