When you consider negative environmental influences on our health, we usually think of toxins. Today these toxins are everywhere: in our food, water, air, clothing, prescription medications, detergents, toys, cosmetics, building supplies, and virtually everywhere.
In the US there are over 80,000 synthetic chemicals used daily with hundreds more coming into existence weekly. Before new chemicals are used, toxicity studies are required. Unfortunately, these required studies can not predict how each individual will respond or how these compounds affect the toxicity of the thousands of chemicals already in our environment.
Our ability to detoxify makes a huge difference on how we may respond to these different environmental toxins. A small dose of a certain toxin in a person with a strong detoxification capacity may have no discernible negative outcome. The same or lower dose in another person may cause a range of physiological abnormalities.
Some examples of environmental toxins:
Bisphenol-A (BPA). This is a well know plasticizer found in polycarbonate bottles such as baby and water bottles. It is classified as an estrogen disruptor. It primarily affects estrogen signaling for reproduction, hormonal malignancy risk, other hormone related processes, and even change to adipocytes, which may promote obesity.
Phthalates. These are compounds used in producing plastics that give then their resilience and flexibility. They are found in glues, detergents, shower curtains, adhesives, plastic bags, paints, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products such as cosmetics and shampoos. They are also endocrine disruptors and high doses alter hormone levels and lead to birth defects.
Toxic Metals. These are referred to as “heavy metals” due to their molecular weight and are toxic to humans. The most common are mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and aluminum. These can be found in dental fillings, cookware, antiperspirants, food, fertilizers, batteries, tobacco smoke, and water. Chronic environmental exposure can cause build up in our tissues. This has been linked to increased risk of various health conditions and diseases.
Pesticides. Pesticides are not only sprayed onto our food but seep deep into the soil and ground water. Often, it ends up in drinking water and the air. Pesticides have been found in breast milk of women and adipose tissue. Chronic exposure has been associated with several adverse effects to our health. From simple irritation to the eyes and skin to neurotoxicity, hormonal disruption, and carcinogenic activity.
Using pesticides on fruit and vegetables has led may to consider using organically-grown and local produce. To maximize the cost and value of organically-grown focus your organic purchase on fruits and vegetables known to have higher amounts of chemicals in the conventional growing environment.
Below is the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list. The Clean 15 can be purchased conventionally since they are the least contaminated. The Dirty Dozen should be purchased organically since they carry the greatest amount of pesticide residue.