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Toxic Body Burden

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Flame Retardants Linked to Hyperactivity, Dioxin Linked to Immune System Impairment

CDC and Johns Hopkins researchers have now documented the toxic body burden that every American carries in his or her tissues. What role do environmental toxins play in the biochemical reactions that drive the human body? Autoimmune disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and even diabetes are frequently mentioned as being caused or exacerbated by environmental toxins.
A New Scientist study has found that phthalates—which are too minute to cause a reaction individually—when combined can suppress hormones like testosterone in those exposed. The work of Dr. Phil Landrigan at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine has shown the adverse affect of phthalates and other toxins on children. One in six American children are now behaviorally or learning disabled, and Americans have anywhere from ten to 100 times higher levels of flame retardant chemicals in their bodies than Japanese and Europeans.

The current issue of NeuroToxicology reports that a common flame retardant found in house dust and now in our bodies causes hyperactivity and behavior adjustment difficulties that worsen with age in laboratory animals. Exposure to the chemical deca-BDE early in life has a lasting effect on the brain. Deca-BDE is a widely used type of polybrominated biphenyl esters, or PBDEs. Two other commercial PBDE mixtures are largely banned or discontinued in the US and in other countries.

Additionally, for the first time researchers have found that laboratory animals exposed to dioxin in early life have a diminished ability to fight infections such as the flu even later in life. While dioxin levels in the environment have dropped since the 1970s, women of child-bearing age are cautioned to be extremely vigilant. Lean cuts of beef, dairy products that are low fat, and lots of fruits and vegetables are recommended to minimize the risk of dioxin exposure.

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