Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy)


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To avoid known health risks, be sure to read the instructions carefully on your household products, and follow any safety precautions. Some toxic chemicals cause no immediate or clear symptoms. Lead , for example, is well known for its poisonous effects. Lead can cause high blood pressure, fertility problems, muscle and joint pain, and memory and concentration problems. As a result, lead is no longer allowed in paints, gasoline, and cans used for food. But lead can still be found in lead-based paint used in older homes, household dust, and drinking water pumped through leaded pipes.

If you live in an older home, check with your local health department about any lead that may be in the paint, dust, or drinking water. Local experts can guide you in steps you can take to prevent lead exposure. Young children are more vulnerable to lead and many other chemicals. Kids can also be exposed to toxins from normal childhood behaviors, like playing on the floor and putting their toys or hands in their mouths. Ami Zota, an environmental and public health expert at George Washington University. Her team recently discovered 45 different chemicals that are commonly found in indoor dust.

When endocrine disruptors get into your body, they can mimic or block the natural hormones Molecules sent through the bloodstream to signal another part of the body to react a certain way. Evidence suggests that endocrine disrupters might reduce fertility, raise the risk for some cancers, or cause other harms. Substances thought to cause endocrine disruption include certain fragrances, pesticides, and stain-resistant coatings.

Phthalates are a family of man-made chemicals used to make plastics, cleaners, and fragrances. The human health effects of phthalates are not yet fully known but are being studied by several government agencies, including NIH. In animals, phthalate exposure has been linked to many reproductive health and developmental problems. To reduce your exposure, read product labels and avoid using products that contain phthalates. The U.

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PFCs are widely used to make everyday products more resistant to stains, grease, and water. They can be found in nonstick cookware, stain-resistant sofas and carpets, and waterproofed clothing and mattresses. In animal studies, some PFCs disrupt normal hormone activity, reduce immune system The cells and tissues that protect your body from invading viruses, bacteria, and other microscopic threats.

Some evidence suggests that certain PFCs may also affect human health, with possible ties to low birth weight, obesity, and testicular and kidney cancers. But some older household items, like nonstick pans, may still contain them. If you have an older nonstick pan that is dinged and worn out, try to replace it. Flame retardants are added or applied to materials to slow or prevent a fire. But a growing body of evidence links many of these chemicals to negative health effects in animals and humans.

Flame retardants can be found in foam, upholstery, mattresses, carpets, curtains, and fabric blinds. Flame retardant use has been declining in recent years. Some chemicals are hazardous because of their physical properties: they can explode, burn or react easily with other chemicals. Since gasoline can burn and its vapors can explode, gasoline is also hazardous. A chemical can be toxic, or hazardous, or both. Since chemicals can be toxic, it is important to understand how they can affect health.

To determine the risk of harmful health effects from a substance, you must first know how toxic the substance is; how much, and by what means, a person is exposed; and how sensitive that person is to the substance. Some substances are more toxic than others. The toxicity of a substance is described by the types of effects it causes and its potency.

The potency and, therefore, the toxicity of a chemical can be affected by its breakdown within the human body. When a substance is absorbed into the body, its chemical structure may be changed or metabolized to a substance that is more toxic or less toxic. For example, carbon tetrachloride, once a commonly used solvent, is changed by the body into a more toxic chemical that causes liver damage. For some other chemicals, metabolism changes the chemical into a form that is more easily eliminated by the body.

Inhalation breathing of gases, vapors, dusts or mists is a common route of exposure. Chemicals can enter and irritate the nose, air passages and lungs. They can become deposited in the airways or be absorbed by the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood can then carry these substances to the rest of the body.

Ingestion swallowing of food, drink or other substances is another route of exposure. Chemicals that get in or on food, cigarettes, utensils or hands can be swallowed. Children are at greater risk of ingesting substances found in dust or soil because they often put their fingers or other objects in their mouths. Lead in paint chips is a good example. Substances can be absorbed into the blood and then transported to the rest of the body.

Direct contact touching with the skin or eyes is also a route of exposure. Some substances are absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream. Broken, cut or cracked skin will allow substances to enter the body more easily. The route of exposure can determine whether or not the toxic substance has an effect. Breathing or swallowing lead can result in health effects, but touching lead is not harmful because lead isn't absorbed through the skin. The greater the amount of a substance a person is exposed to, the more likely that health effects will occur. Large amounts of a relatively harmless substance can be toxic.

For example, two aspirin tablets can help to relieve a headache, but taking an entire bottle of aspirin can cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, convulsions or death. A person's dose can be determined by multiplying the concentration of the chemical times the amount of the water, air, food or soil that a person takes in. For example, the average adult drinks about 2 liters roughly quarts of water and breathes about 20 cubic meters roughly cubic yards of air a day. If drinking water contains 1 milligram of lead per liter, then the person would take in a total of 2 milligrams of lead in a day.

Acute exposure is a short contact with a chemical. It may last a few seconds or a few hours. For example, it might take a few minutes to clean windows with ammonia, use nail polish remover or spray a can of paint. The fumes someone might inhale during these activities are examples of acute exposures.

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Chronic exposure is continuous or repeated contact with a toxic substance over a long period of time months or years. If a chemical is used every day on the job, the exposure would be chronic.

Toxins In Your Body - How Your Body Stores Toxins That Make You Sick

Over time, some chemicals, such as PCBs and lead, can build up in the body and cause long-term health effects. Chronic exposures can also occur at home. Some chemicals in household furniture, carpeting or cleaners can be sources of chronic exposure.

Chemicals leaking from landfills dumps can enter the groundwater and contaminate nearby wells or seep into basements. Unless preventive measures are taken, people may be exposed for a long time to chemicals from their drinking water or indoor air. All people are not equally sensitive to chemicals, and are not affected by them in the same way. There are many reasons for this. We don't know all the effects of exposure to every chemical. We learn about the health effects of many chemicals from human exposures and animal studies.

Sometimes a human population that has been exposed to a toxic substance usually at work or from an environmental source is compared with a population that has not been exposed. If the exposed population shows an increase in a certain health effect, that health effect may be related to the chemical exposure. However, these studies often cannot determine the exact cause of a health effect.


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A chemical exposure can produce a health effect directly at the site of contact local or elsewhere in the body systemic , and that effect can be either immediate or delayed. Every organ system has different functions and physical characteristics. So the effect of chemicals on each system has to be evaluated slightly differently. As an example, consider three ways that chemicals can affect one system: the reproductive system. First, chemical exposure can affect a man's or woman's reproductive system by making the production of normal sperm or eggs more difficult.

Second, the chemical may act directly on an unborn baby fetus. Since chemicals can be transferred from the mother's blood to the unborn baby's blood, the fetus can be affected when the mother is exposed to certain chemicals. A pregnant woman who drinks alcohol can have a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome.

The health effects can range from birth defects to learning disabilities. And finally, some chemicals can have indirect effects on the development of the fetus. For example, smoking during pregnancy can reduce the amount of oxygen to the fetus. The lack of oxygen can affect the baby's growth.

Not all chemical exposures affect reproduction, but it is best to minimize exposure to all toxic substances during pregnancy. Delayed health effects may take months or years to appear and can result from either acute or chronic exposure to a toxic substance.

Why Are Toxins So Harmful?

The delay between the exposure and the appearance of health effects is called the latency period. Delayed health effects can be reversible or permanent. Permanent effects don't go away when the exposure stops. For example, breathing asbestos over a period of time may cause lung disease.

Once the lung disease begins, it will continue even if the exposure stops or decreases. Cancer is an example of a delayed health effect. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. There are many kinds of cancer. Cancer can be caused by a number of things, including exposure to toxic substances, ultraviolet sunlight and ionizing radiation. Exposure to some chemicals, such as benzene and asbestos, can produce cancer in humans.

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Toxins and Environmental Inflammation - Whole Health For Life

Some chemicals produce cancer in animals, but whether they will in humans is unknown. Because cancer may not appear until 5 to 40 years after exposure, determining the cause of cancer is difficult. Even though chemicals we use or are exposed to every day can be toxic, you can protect yourself and your family from chemical exposures. No matter how toxic a substance may be, if you are not exposed to the substance, it cannot affect your health. The important rule to remember is: minimize your exposure.

Public and university libraries, professional organizations or citizen groups may also be helpful.

Other Environmental Toxins

The more you know about toxic substances, the more you can reduce exposure. What you know can help you! Navigation menu. What You Know Can Help You - An Introduction to Toxic Substances Armed with some basic facts about toxic substances, you can reduce your exposure to chemicals and lower the chance of harmful health effects. What is a toxic substance? Health effects: toxic or hazardous?

How can toxic substances cause harm? Toxicity Some substances are more toxic than others. Types of Effects: Different chemicals cause different effects. For example, Chemical A may cause vomiting, but not cancer.

Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy) Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy)
Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy) Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy)
Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy) Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy)
Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy) Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy)
Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy) Environmental Toxins (How to Keep Your Body Healthy)

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