Microplastics, synthetic chemicals like “forever” chemicals, and digital electromagnetic fields (EMF) saturate the world, but lawmakers seem content to let us be the guinea pigs as scientists sound the alarm about the dangers of these exposures. Action Alerts!
A recent opinion piece in the New York Times, “Our Way of Life is Poisoning Us,” correctly drew attention to the problem of microplastic pollution and what it means for human health. Microplastics are everywhere: in our bodies (even our brains), in our food, in the dust in the air we breathe, and in our drinking water—even in the most remote areas on Earth. Yet we’re only just beginning to understand the extent of the damage this chronic exposure to microplastics is doing to human and planetary health.
Does any of this sound familiar? Just replace “microplastics” with “PFAS.” PFAS are the “forever” chemicals that have been getting a lot of attention recently (for good reason), but we’re exposed to a cocktail of thousands of chemicals from a variety of sources every day. PFAS are just one example of dozens of chemicals that have been detected in the blood of huge swaths of the American public. New data from Europe suggest that our exposure to BPA, an endocrine disruptor that causes cancer and obesity, exceeds safety levels by as much as 100 percent. In fact, exposure to environmental chemicals is increasingly being linked to a variety of diseases, many of which end up killing us. A recent analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that chemical exposures resulted in the death of 2 million people globally, and that’s probably a massive underestimate. Get this: most of the 86,000 chemicals that are registered with the EPA have never been subject to any rigorous safety or toxicity testing.
And what about the exponential increase in our exposure to digital EMFs from cell phones, laptops, other broadband devices, and the increasing number of communications satellites that are being sent into orbit? Many of us can’t imagine living without the convenience of these devices, but a mounting body of evidence is demonstrating the very real health risks from this exponential increase in our exposure to this form of radiation. Despite warnings from leading experts, we are barreling down the road of 5G implementation, which will expose us to even higher levels of EMF radiation: there will be transmitters on lamp-posts in the street, thousands of mini-satellites in the sky, and few or no safe spaces free from the microwave radiation being emitted by these devices. And we have no evidence that being bathed in this amount of EMF is safe.
The world is just starting to wake up to the reality that this indispensable technology comes with dangers: the French government just ordered Apple to remove the iPhone 12 from the market, saying it emits levels of electromagnetic radiation that are too high.
Plastics, chemicals, and EMFs are all viewed as essential to the operation of our modern world; all three are ubiquitous and nearly impossible to escape; and all three are ruining our health. And when you combine these exposures with increasing chronic stress, poor diet, lack of physical exercise, and a health system that treats symptoms rather than root causes, you’ve created a perfect storm for disease to flourish. Our modern lifestyle undermines our ability to be resilient in the face of these threats. The COVID pandemic was a grim reminder of this fundamental truth.
These things didn’t just “happen.” Widespread PFAS contamination is the result of company cover-ups and industry-friendly chemical legislation passed by Congress. The wireless industry has spent decades muddying the waters about the dangers of EMF exposure for humans. The plastics industry works to suppress meaningful efforts to reduce plastic waste. All of this is happening under the gaze of federal agencies like the FDA, EPA, and FCC that are captured by the very industries they are meant to regulate.
But we’ve got a much bigger problem. The federal agencies that are meant to be looking out for our safety have absolutely no interest in looking at the effects of all these different sources of environmental toxins and radiation on our bodies. That means we have no clue about the effects of our total burden of new-to-nature chemicals and radiation sources via all routes of exposures: from the particulate matter in the smog you inhale while in traffic, to the microplastics in the air at your office, the pesticides on your lunchtime veggies, the PFAS in their plastic wrappers, the heavy metals and endocrine disrupters in your drinking water, the phthalates in cosmetics, all the way to the radiation from your existing cellphone and, let’s not forget this, the 5G “small cell” towers going up in the neighborhood. What’s more, this is just a tiny list of our total exposures.
Our body’s natural detoxification processes can only take so much, and most of this has been adapted to the chemical and radiation loads our ancestors became accustomed to over millennia. We’re now the guinea pigs in a giant experiment and what we’re beginning to learn is that those who have the highest total toxin loads are more likely to develop certain chronic illnesses. Regulators looking at one chemical or contaminant at a time will miss the dangers posed by the cumulative effect of all these diverse exposures on human health. No wonder they keep saying that most of the food additives, pesticides, or cell phones we’re exposed to are safe—it suits the revolving doors they have with the chemical and communications industries, not to mention Big Pharma that gets to sell its toxic products to an ever sicker population.
These challenges and assaults to our health demand a robust response. We at ANH-USA are working at the policy level to tackle these issues head-on. We’re pushing for a ban on harmful PFAS chemicals; we’ve called for a halt to 5G expansion until safety can be proved; we’ve called for reforms to how chemicals get approved to better protect public health.
We hope you will join our efforts in demanding these changes: find the links at the bottom of this article to take action on these issues. There are also things you can do at the individual level to better protect yourself.
There are several ways to reduce your exposure to plastics, though it will be impossible to eliminate your exposure completely. Cutting back our use of single-use plastics is crucial in the big picture to reduce plastics in the environment. Several states have enacted state-wide plastic bag bans; more legislatures could be urged to follow suit. Other ways to address microplastics to protect our health include vacuuming regularly with HEPA filters to remove plastics from our living space. Some companies market air purifiers that purport to remove some microplastics from the air. Experts recommend drinking filtered tap water rather than bottled water, which tends to have far higher amounts of plastic contamination than tap water.
You can check out our educational pieces on detoxification (here and here, and yes, please don’t forget to take your NAC supplement every day) to address your chemical burden. We’ll never be able to avoid all environmental chemicals – that can be as hard as having dust-free air in our homes. But we can make changes to avoid some of the most common products, such as swapping processed foods for fresh alternatives, using glass containers for food storage, never reheating food in plastic bags or cartons, and avoiding flexible plastic water bottles, nonstick cookware, and flame- and water-resistant coatings on carpets, furniture and clothes. We can also look for products made without phthalates or BPA, although some BPA alternatives have issues of their own. A general rule of thumb: nature does it best.
We recently looked at how to reduce your EMF exposure while in your car. As much as possible, keeping your distance from the source of radiation will dramatically reduce your exposure. Using speakerphone rather than holding the phone against your head is an example, as is using ‘air tubes’ as well as turning your phone off, putting it on ‘airplane mode,’ or keeping it away (at least 12 feet) from where you sleep at night. Experts recommend turning off mobile data, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth on your phone whenever possible, only making these active when checking messages. You can buy reasonably priced EMF meters that measure the amount of radiation in your surroundings, ideally a tri-field type that gives you electric, electromagnetic, and radio frequency fields. This will allow you to re-arrange things in your home or working space in ways that ensure you spend the most time in areas least bathed in harmful radiation. Some sources suggest turning your house into a Faraday cage, or a full metal enclosure that repels radiation, although this probably only makes sense if you’re highly sensitive to electrosmog (i.e. you’re what’s called in Sweden, the only country that so far formally recognizes the condition, an electrohypersensitive). If that isn’t possible, individual rooms where the most time is spent can be individually protected with EMF paint and other products for the windows and doors. These resources have some more information and examples of products that are available. Tensor field technology is also claimed to be able to reduce the harmful effects of EMF radiation.