Our Chemical World

I have often written about the harmful effects of chemicals on health and the importance of detoxification. A recent article provides a thought-provoking account of how pervasive
chemicals have become in our environment and how challenging it can be for authorities to conclusively prove cause and effect and take action in the face of huge commercial
interests. The article can be read in its entirety (although registration is required) at

It discusses bisphenol-A (BPA), possibly the most ubiquitous chemical in our environment. BPA is classified as a “plasticizer.” It is used to make polycarbonates (clear shatter-resistant plastics), as well as coatings that line food containers, dental sealants and so on. We come in contact with it every day in baby bottles, tin can linings, CD’s, car interiors and the list goes on.

Industry sources continue to hold that BPA is safe. However, many of the studies they quote are more than 15 years old and are the same ones that led to the approval of this
chemical in the first place. These studies found no evidence that BPA leaches in the body only because they were performed before the technology to spot tiny amounts of chemicals was developed.

However, newer studies are not only finding BPA in people, they actually found it in as many as 95% of Americans. New studies are also showing conclusively that BPA crosses the placenta where it is capable of affecting fetal development.

To get an idea of how complicated this research can be, consider that the amount of BPA found in humans is so tiny it is measured in parts-per-billion. However, unlike even the worst of natural poisons, scientists are finding that BPA can have harmful effects even at smaller concentrations than that. In fact, animal studies show that concentrations in the parts-per-trillion range are sufficient to cause harm.

In rat studies, BPA causes an increase in both prostate and breast cancer rates – two cancers that are reaching epidemic levels in our society. In addition, when rats are exposed to BPA early in life they tend to become overweight. Could it be that the dramatic growth of obesity rates is not just a result of more food being available? Finally, rats exposed to BPA during gestation tend to become hyperactive and slow to learn.

When it comes to news like this, it is very difficult to draw any practical conclusions. We simply can’t insulate ourselves from a chemical like BPA, and even if we could there are thousands more everywhere in our lives. There are a few things we can do to help protect ourselves, such as eating well, avoiding chemicals when possible, and being sure we are not deficient in vitamin D.

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