Environmental toxins

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Environmental toxins are chemicals and other materials created largely from industry. These chemicals have saturated our water, food and the very air we breathe. Though one can’t see, feel, or smell many toxins, they affect us until we come down with a chronic disease after years of exposure.


Why should I be aware of this?

Studies show that there is a clear link between environmental toxins and poor health so it makes sense to avoid possible sources of contamination. Toxins can be absorbed through your skin, they are also in the air you breathe and the food that you eat and drink. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to protect your health and the health of your family.

All about environmental toxins

The following toxins are among the most prevalent in our air, water and/or food supply.

  • PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls): banned in the United States for decades, yet is a persistent organic pollutant that's still present in our environment.

Risks: Cancer, impaired fetal brain development

  • Pesticides: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60% of herbicides, 90 % of fungicides and 30% of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. Alarmingly, pesticide residues have been detected in 50% - 95% of U.S. foods.

Risks: Cancer, Parkinson's disease, miscarriage, nerve damage, birth defects, blocking the absorption of food nutrients

  • Mold and other Fungal Toxins: Mycotoxins (fungal toxins) can cause a range of health problems with exposure to only a small amount.

Risks: Cancer, heart disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis, diabetes

  • Phthalates: These chemicals are used to give longer life to fragrances and soften plastics.

Risks: Endocrine system damage (phthalates chemically mimic hormones and are particularly dangerous to children)

  • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds): VOCs are a major contributor to ozone, an air pollutant.

Risks: Cancer, eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment

  • Dioxins: Chemical compounds formed as a result of combustion processes such as commercial or municipal waste incineration and from burning fuels (like wood, coal or oil).

Risks: Cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, chloracne (a severe skin disease with acne-like lesions), skin rashes, skin discoloration, excessive body hair, mild liver damage

  • Asbestos: The problem with this insulating material which was widely used from the 1950s to 1970s, arose when the material became old and crumbly, releasing fibers into the air.

Risks: Cancer, scarring of the lung tissue, mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer)

  • Heavy Metals: Metals like arsenic, mercury, lead, aluminum and cadmium can accumulate in soft tissues of the body.

Risks: Cancer, neurological disorders, Alzheimer's disease, foggy head, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels

  • Chloroform: used to make other chemicals. It's also formed when chlorine is added to water.

Risks: Cancer, potential reproductive damage, birth defects, dizziness, fatigue, headache, liver and kidney damage.

  • Chlorine: This highly toxic, yellow-green gas is one of the most heavily used chemical agents.

Risks: Sore throat, coughing, eye and skin irritation, rapid breathing, narrowing of the bronchi, wheezing, blue coloring of the skin, accumulation of fluid in the lungs, pain in the lung region, severe eye and skin burns, lung collapse, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS) (a type of asthma)

What can I do?

Though it is not possible to avoid all environmental toxins, we can do the following to limit our exposure:

  • Eat organic produce and free-range, organic foods as much as possible
  • Consume a high-quality purified fish or cod liver oil and avoid fish, which is largely contaminated with PCBs and mercury.
  • Avoid processed foods as they can contain chemicals
  • Only use natural cleaning products in your home
  • Use natural toiletries
  • Metal fillings are a major source of mercury. Be sure to have this done by a qualified biological dentist.
  • Avoid artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances as they can pollute the air you are breathe.
  • Avoid all kinds of artificial food additives
  • Get plenty of safe sun exposure to boost your vitamin D levels and your immune system
  • Get your tap water tested. If contaminants are found, install an appropriate water filter on all your faucets.

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Additional information


  • The Natural Health Website for Women
  • How to Avoid the Top 10 Most Common Toxins