Anyone who has wondered just what toxic chemicals they might be harbouring will be interested to read an article at Health World Online by a National Geographic reporter who persuaded the magazine to pay for an analysis of his personal chemical load.
At a cost of around $15,000, this journalist-turned-guinea-pig had his blood tested for 320 chemicals (a mere fraction of the number likely to be present) by a state-of-the-art lab in Vancouver. Armed with the results, he set about trying to understand how he might have acquired this personal collection of chemical invaders and what their presence might mean for his health.
The tests revealed, for example, that the writer's blood level of one particular toxic flame-retardant compound - polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) - was 10 times the average found in a US study and more than 200 times the Swedish average. This is a higher concentration than one would find in someone who had worked in a factory making the stuff!
Although little is known about their impact on human health, high doses of PBDEs have been shown, in rats, to interfere with thyroid function, cause reproductive and neurological problems and hamper neurological development.
PBDE can be acquired from such things as new furniture or rugs, from spending a lot of time around computer monitors or from living close to a factory making flame retardants, but none of these applied in this case. The writer had, however, clocked up 200,000 miles in aeroplanes the previous year, and the plastic and fabric interiors of planes are known to be drenched in flame retardants to meet safety standards.
This eye-opening, seven-page article continues with details of other
toxins revealed by the analysis and a discussion of their possible sources and implications.
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First Published in January 2007
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