We all like to think we're safe in our homes and in our neighborhoods, but in fact these places could be contaminated with environmental toxins without us even knowing about it. These silent, invisible killers are responsible for many illnesses ranging from the lung problems experienced by employees of some factories who are exposed to toxic mould to the kids who are exposed to lead paint when their old school is repainted. Here are some common environmental toxins and how to avoid them.
PCBs are industrial chemicals that were used as coolants and conductors for a long time until they were banned. Unfortunately, they are very difficult to destroy and have leaked into sewage disposal systems and from there into ground water and bodies of water. PBCs can cause cancer, so avoiding old industrial sites and limiting your intake of farm raised fish is a good idea.
Up until a few decades ago, we viewed certain plants, insects, and fungi as the primary threat when we really should have been concerned with the chemicals we were using to kill them. 30% to 90% of pesticides are known carcinogens that can also cause birth defects and nerve damage. Eating organic fruits and veggies that have not been exposed to chemicals will limit your exposure.
Mould and Fungus
Mould and fungus aren't just a pain to clean up if they're forming inside your home, they may also be poisoning you. Even a small amount of toxic mould or fungus can cause allergic reactions, asthma, and even heart disease. Have a professional take care of mould or fungus issues in your home. Deck builders should be especially careful when demolishing old structures as they are more likely to be contaminated.
Plastics are miracle materials that can be formed into anything, but beware: these chemicals used to soften plastics are chemically similar to hormones and can cause endocrine system damage, especially in kids. They typically leech out of plastic wrap and plastic food containers, so avoid these when possible.
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Other environmental issues that have arisen from industrial sites like an old factory or a disused body shop are heavy metals. Arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium can build up in soft tissues and cause cancer or neurological disorders. Avoiding these sites along with old building materials, metal fillings, aluminum containing deodorants, and untested fish will limit exposure.
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Chlorine is used as a cleaner, a boiler water treatment chemical, and (in small amounts) as a tap water purifier. Exposure to chlorine gas in higher doses can cause lung irritation and asthma along with skin and eye irritation. Avoid paper plants and chemical based cleaners to limit exposure.