The Damage This Polluted World Does to Your Body

Often, I share studies about the toll the toxic chemicals all around us -- think mercury and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) -- can take on our bodies. But the often-toxic results I report may seem a bit abstract, however, allowing you to feel a false sense of security.

I suspect you'll feel quite differently from now on, after readingthis awesome story from the National Geographic Web site, afirst-person account describing some of the substances absorbed by onereporter over his short lifetime and ferreting out from where theycame. His story began a year ago, shortly after a battery of 14 bloodtests to find levels of 320 chemicals residing in his body, acquired"by merely living." Like, for example, the dump near his boyhood Kansashome that's now an EPA superfund site.

No surprise, the results sent the reporter into a worrying tailspin, starting with polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE),a substance that curtails neurological development and interferes withthyroid function, as his body contained 10 times more PBDE than theaverage American. The probable cause: Extensive air travel (some200,000 miles annually) from exposure to airplane interiors sprayedwith flame retardants.

By the way, the growing curiosity about the chemicals in his body pushed the reporter to test his body for mercury after eating swordfish,one of the most toxic fish around, and halibut. After taking a bloodtest 24 hours after eating the fish, his levels of mercury had morethan doubled to 12 micrograms per liter, a frightening climb, says onescientist, considering children have experienced measurable losses inIQ with mercury levels in their blood at 5.8 micrograms.

That's why I urge you so often to take control of your health bymaking some common sense lifestyle changes, like eating the foods yourbody burns best based on its unique nutritional type and getting the right amount of exercise.

National Geographic October 2006









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