We all know the importance of protecting the earth and our local environments. But should we also be thinking about the potential threats that certain environmental compounds may pose to our personal health and that of our families? Just think about the many recent food and consumer product safety issues in the news that have environmental origins. They range from pesticide residues and microbiological contamination in fresh produce, to antibiotics and hormones in meat and poultry, to widespread heavy metal contamination of global seafood. Given these rampant safety concerns regarding the world’s food supply, we all need to be more diligent than ever in protecting our families from the myriad of food safety issues related to environmental toxins.
The health threats of environmental chemicals go well beyond risks in the food chain. Scientists are finding new links between environmental chemicals and disease every day. These chemicals show up everywhere...in our food, as contaminants in our water and air, in common household goods like cleaning and fragrance products, furniture, and bedding. According to Healthy Child, Healthy World, an average home contains 1500 hazardous compounds that may be eroding our vitality, decreasing our productivity, and increasing health costs. Over 81,000 chemicals have been registered with the EPA in the last 50 years and its been estimated that only 20% have been tested for toxicity...and the average home generates over 20 pounds of hazardous waste each year and can accumulate up to 100 lbs stored in basements, garages, and closets.
There are unlimited ways that environmental chemicals can adversely impact our health, far too many to discuss in this post. That said, the most common impact areas for which you should be aware are obesity, diabetes, and early-onset puberty. Scientists have studied these areas of impact and have documented their findings thoroughly. If you would like additional information, let me know. In the meantime, focus on minimizing exposure to possible health risks from environmental threats.
Reducing Exposure to Environmental Threats
So just what can you do to protect your family's health against environmental challenges? You can start by making these simple everyday chioces to help minimize exposure to environmental toxins:
- Buy local and organic foods whenever possible. If you garden, avoid use of pesticides or choose organic pesticides so you're not contributing to the problem.
- Look for meat and dairy products that are hormone, antibiotic, and steroid free.
- Use glass instead of plastic. Instead of buying water in plastic bottles, consider using a filter to purify water from the tap. Choose smart plastics and avoid putting them in the microwave or the dishwasher where they can degrade under excessive heat.
- Avoid unsafe chemicals indoors and out. Clean out your cupboards and replace home care and cleaning products with non-toxic, pesticide-free, biodegradable, natural products.
- Finally, read labels. Know what's in the foods you eat and make informed choices about even the most common household and personal care products that are safe for the environment and your family.
The above includes excerpts from Dr Jamie McManus MD health bulletin as published April 2008.