Toxins in Your Everyday Environment

Environmental Toxins

If you could wake up one morning, discard your normal working attire, and don a mobile suit of sophisticated detectors and microarrays that enable you to accurately measure toxins in your everyday environment, what would you find? Upon waking and suiting up, your mobile display panel most likely would indicate the presence of several toxins in the air that you are breathing.

Airborne Toxins

In your immediate airborne environment you may encounter many chemical or biological compounds that can initiate an allergic reaction. For example, pollen is one of the most widespread airborne allergen produced in abundance in many of the plants around the home such as trees, grasses, and weeds. Also ubiquitous in the air are spores and toxins produced by molds. In general, Alternaria and Cladosporium are the molds most commonly found both indoors and outdoors throughout the United States. Also common are Aspergillus, Penicillium, Helminthosporium, Epicoccum, Fusarium, Mucor, Rhizopus, and Aureobasidium. Spores and toxins produced from the black mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, are also found in homes that have damp basements or in water damaged buildings that have been ravaged by storms or hurricanes. Unlike the differnt pollens types which are seasonal, molds may linger in the home long after the first killing frost.

The air in your everyday environment may also contain chemical toxins. For example, benzene is found in air polluted by cigarette smoke or vehicle exhaust, and is released in emissions from oil refineries and other industrial sources. Also your air may be contaminated by pesticides that have been used around your home and garden, sprayed to combat flying insects, or even released from flea treatments commonly applied to your pets. In addition, formaldehyde emitted from particleboard, adhesives, insulation, and other household products can cause nausea, eye irritation, dry or inflamed skin, or even respiratory problems.

Toxins Carried in House Dust

If you were able to analyze the common dust found around your house, you would be suprised to find that dust contains numerous toxins. Besides lint and fibers from different types of fabrics, house dust contains bacteria, mold and fungal spores, bits of plants and insects, cotton lint, feathers and other stuffing materials, food particles, bits of plants and insects, and other allergens peculiar to an individual home. House dust also contains microscopic insects known as dust mites. Dust mites live in bedding, pillows, upholstered furniture, and carpets. As you make you bed up in the morning, the particles seen floating in a shaft of sunlight include the released dead bodies of dust mites and their waste-products. These waste products also contain toxic dust mite proteins, or allegens that can provoke an allergic reaction. In some urban areas, the waste products of cockroaches, mice, or rats are also present in household dust. If you have a cat or dog, pet dander allergens may also be present.

Toxins in Food and Drink

Even water that you drink from your tap may be filled with toxins. Chlorine is used in drinking water to deter bacterial growth. However, with each drop of water, you are ingesting chlorine and many other chemicals they are used to keep it clean. In the very same water, you may be ingesting rust or metals carried from the pipes through which it was flowing.

The food you eat may also contain preservatives, and other chemicals. For example, in 2002, the FDA released the results of their preliminary testing of levels of the genotoxic chemical acrylamide in over 275 different samples of foods. High levels of acrylamide were found in foods ranging from infant formulas, cereals, nuts, crackers, dairy products, breads and bakery items, gravies and seasoning, to most French fries and potato chips. Meat that you get from the butcher shop may contain hormones used to hasten the growth of animals so that they can be sold earlier. Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. However, eating large amounts of certain fish can result in toxic levels of mercury in the tissues of your body. In a developing fetus or young child, mercury can damage the brain or nervous sytem.

Toxins in Personal Care Products and Other Health Aides

It is well known that many personal care products such as shampoo, soaps, toothpaste and antiperspirant, contain various compounds that are toxic to your body such as aluminum, coal tar, petroleum derivatives, emulsifiers, sodium lauryl sulfate and other surfactants, propellants, and colorants, such to name a few.

Toxins and Body Cleansing

Because of exposure to numerous toxins in our everyday environment, body cleansing is recommended to eliminate accumulated toxins from our body. Body cleansing methods range from the use of mild herbal remedies, dietary supplements, products and procedures that induce sweating, and more extreme forms of cleansing such as colonic irrigation. It is well documented that colonic irrigation carries the risks of perforation and/or infection. Also, the use of exercise to promote sweating may in fact boost the production of natural toxins if one does not stay properly hydrated during and after a workout.