Beware: Household Chemicals Can Destroy Your Health and Immune System!!
It's extremely frustrating to me that I continually learn about more and more poisons, toxins, pesticides and environmental issues that compromise our immune system, poison our bodies and destroy our brains. As a result, it's become almost commonplace to hear of a friend dying from some toxin-induced disease.
I've also become concerned about the airborne poisons being released into our environment that we, as consumers, know nothing about. I also question the origin of these airborne inhalants and if the people who are releasing them even care about their devastating health consequences. Now we have a massive nuclear disaster in Japan that has the potential to affect the entire planet!
That's why I write this newsletter – to both educate you and give you the best solutions available to deal with the health-destroying compounds and pollutants that are increasingly all around us.
Let's start with the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion – also referred to as the British Petroleum (BP) oil disaster – the largest accidental marine oil spill in U.S. history and the history of the petroleum industry. In terms of the damage it inflicted on local industries, the environment and our health, the impact of that spill continues today – long after the well has been supposedly capped.
The release of millions of gallons of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), such as benzene, methylene chloride, and hydrogen sulfide, into the atmosphere and from the Gulf of Mexico through to the entire Eastern seaboard, pose long-term dangers to our health. Few people, however, realize that many of those same chemicals are already in our cupboards, kitchens, bathrooms and homes.
Among the devastating effects of the release of petroleum and gases from the earth: pulmonary damage, nervous system degeneration, and threat of cancers. But equally alarming is that the chemical Corexit (an oil dispersant) used to supposedly clean up the spill, is toxic to our nervous system.
Actually , that's an understatement. You could hardly find a more dangerous combination of poisons to dump into the Gulf of Mexico than Corexit. The original Corexit product has been designated a "chronic and acute health hazard" by the EPA. It is made with 2-methanol, a highly toxic chemical that has long been linked to the health problems of cleanup crews who worked on the Exxon Valdez spill. Corexit goes right through the skin, ruptures red blood cells, and causes internal bleeding, and liver and kidney damage.
The newer Corexit – dubbed the "9500 formula" – contains diocese sodium superordinate, a detergent chemical that's also found in laxatives. What do you suppose happens to the marine ecosystem when fish and sea turtles ingest this chemical through their gills and skin? Sadly, we'll have to wait and see what happens to the people working around this chemical, breathing in its fumes and touching it with their skin?
Is the concentration now in the air and environment completely harmless as BP oil executives, the Obama administration, and the regulatory agencies say it is? We simply don't know. How many times has the government lied to us in recent years? Haven't we have all grown weary of the "misinformation" coming out of Washington? After all, we do know from the past that government scientists assured us that lead in the air from leaded gasoline was safe – before more testing found that the level of lead considered safe was several hundred-fold times lower than originally cited. And we also heard the same thing with mercury, pesticides, and a number of other industrial chemicals. It makes you think, and be wary.
What we also know is that there is no 'safe' level of benzene – making any exposure particularly toxic to the developing infants, pregnant women, and sick elderly.
If the further release of oil can't be contained and the spilled oil can't be properly clean – a very real possibility – we could come face-to-face with a newer, more devastating reality. Currently the submerged oil covers approximately 50 percent of the Gulf waters with dead fish, sharks and large sea animals lining up on shores extending from Louisiana to Florida. Once the oil lands on the on the ocean floor, oyster, crab, and shrimp beds in the Gulf of Mexico will potentially be contaminated. Over the next few decades we could lose the Gulf's precious and critical sea beds, thus adversely impacting the livelihoods of local fishermen and their families and ultimately the planet and the availability of already limited omega-3 oils would be affected. Pricing this much needed nutrient would be out of reach for the majority of people.
Since many people who don't live on the Gulf Coast don't see any direct threat to themselves, they may think they're safe. But if a hurricane struck the Gulf Coast, it would bring these toxins inland. Even if you live in the Midwest region of the country, you should be aware of VOCs and how to protect your family, as these chemicals already exist in our homes, offices, and in some processed foods.
The Fallout and Impact of BP's Disaster
It appears that whenever there is a disaster, one of the first things the government attempts is to do is lull the public into a false sense of security. The BP Crisis was no different. When the EPA and BP told Gulf Coast residents that air quality monitors indicated they were safe from VOCs, a private investigation proved otherwise: not only were benzine levels elevated, hydrogen sulfide levels were well over 40 times higher than levels that were considered safe. And, it was revealed that air quality monitors hadn't even been placed in the area all.
It was at this point that evacuation was strongly recommended for the area's expectant women, developing children and families. Government agencies chose to downplay the seriousness of the situation, even getting the president into the act to suggest to the world that they come down and sample the area's cuisine. Swimming in the Gulf was also suggested as safe as long as none of the water was ingested.
My family and I live in central Florida. When this news hit, we took a vacation to Montana. I know that may seem excessive to you, but here's my reasoning: I'm a chemist and I have dealt with too many poisons in laboratories not to realize that this threat was very real.
And one last word on the unnecessary use of the toxin Corexit. Corexit has been shown to increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Alzheimer’s, particularly among people predisposed to it. Add to that the growing concerns of VOCs and leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer.
Last May, just after the BP crisis began, state officials requested that the use of this toxin be discontinued due to "the long-term damage to our state, our citizens, our Eco-system, our economy, our seafood industry, our wildlife and our culture."
VOCs in Everyday Products
Aerosol propellants such as pesticides and hair spray, produce the largest proportion of VOC emissions, followed by car wash and repair products, insect repellents, hair coloring products, and deodorizing air fresheners. Major components of the VOCs emitted include ethyl alcohol used in medicines and cosmetics, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) used for aerosol propellants, and paradichlorobenzene in insect repellents.
While there may be a delay of a decade before a cancer appears, with very high exposures, cancers can appear as early as nine months after exposure.
Source:Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) Study
Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs
Nose and throat discomfort
Allergic skin reaction
Declines in serum cholinesterase levels
Loss of coordination.
The effects of VOCs vary greatly from those that are highly toxic to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics.
Products used at home or work can release VOCs into the air
While the Gulf oil spill crisis presented health hazards to people living along coastal regions, the same threat already exists from similar toxic chemicals in your home. Here are some examples:
BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene), hexane, cyclohexane, 1, 2, 4-trimethylbenzene
Fuel containers or devices using gasoline, kerosene, fuel oil and products with petroleum distillates: paint thinner, oil-based stains and paint, aerosol or liquid insect pest products, mineral spirits, furniture polishes
Acetone, ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, methacrylates (methyl or ethyl), ethyl acetate
Personal care products: nail polish, nail polish remover, colognes, perfumes, rubbing alcohol, hair spray
Tetrachloroethene (perchloroethene (PERC), trichloroethene (TCE))
Dry cleaned clothes, spot removers, fabric/ leather cleaners
d-limonene (citrus odor), a-pinene (pine odor), isoprene
Citrus (orange) oil or pine oil cleaners, solvents and some odor masking products
Tetrahydrofuran, cyclohexane, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), toluene, acetone, hexane, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, methyl-iso-butyl ketone (MIBK)
PVC cement and primer, various adhesives, contact cement, model cement
Methylene chloride, toluene, older products may contain carbon tetrachloride
Paint stripper, adhesive (glue) removers
Methylene chloride, PERC, TCE, toluene, xylenes, methyl ethyl ketone, 1,1,1-trichloroethane
Degreasers, aerosol penetrating oils, brake cleaner, carburetor cleaner, commercial solvents, electronics cleaners, spray lubricants
Moth balls, moth flakes, deodorizers, air fresheners
Freons (trichlorofluoromethane, dichlorodifluoromethane)
Refrigerant from air conditioners, freezers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers
Upholstered furniture, carpets, plywood, pressed wood products
Heptane, butane, pentane
Aerosol spray products for some paints, cosmetics, automotive products, leather treatments, pesticides
Use caution around children when these products are present and always wear gloves when handling any of these materials.
Supplements to the Rescue from VOCs And all can be found as supplements:
Taurine (Health Masters’ Fit Food Protein) and (Health Masters’ GHI Cleanse) is an amino acid that is considered to be the second most abundant in the body's muscle after glutamine. It has been celebrated for its ability to enhance physical performance, strengthen the heart muscle and protect the brain from excitotoxicity. Take 500 - 3000 mg a day, 30 minutes before a meal.
NAC (Health Masters’ N-Acetyl Cysteine) is a powerful anti-oxidant and cell detoxification co-factor, NAC works to eliminate your body of free radicals and heavy metals. This improves your cellular health tremendously. Take 500 – 750 mg.
Curcumin (Health Masters’ Dimension), quercetin (Health Masters’ HGH Stimulate) and (Health Masters’ GHI Cleanse), ellagic acid, and hesperidin (Health Masters’ Menopause Support) are also all very powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, which taken together protect against VOC toxicity. Each can be taken together. Mix Curcumin and quercetin with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil at each meal for maximum absorption.
Melatonin (Health Masters’ Melatonin Sublingual) has strong antioxidant effects and stimulates the production of other antioxidants in the brain and throughout the body. Evidence suggests that it strengthens the immune system and inhibit enzymes that metabolize benzene to more toxic compounds.
One study was carried out to investigate the effects of potential low level exposure to benzene on phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) stimulated lymphocytes. Sixty-six male workers of a refinery population were studied and compared with 33 control workers in the same refinery who were not known to have been exposed to benzene.
One conclusion of the study demonstrated how green tea (and ultimately, the higher antioxidant white tea) detoxified VOC components, proving how a healthy diet and supplements can reduce a significant amount of VOCs toxicity.
Cancer and VOCs
A number of VOCs, especially chlorinated organic compounds (pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, etc.), are associated with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in the U.S., with 66,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
People exposed to high levels of VOCs on a daily basis (such as work) have a higher incidence of lymphoma. At risk are those who work with refrigerants from air conditioners, formaldehyde, dry cleaning, solvents, adhesive removers, inks, degreasers, pesticides/herbicides/fungicides, PVC cement and primer.
In women exposed to formaldehyde, two studies have shown a higher risk of developing or dying of breast cancer (Cantor et al., 1995; Coyle et al., 2005). Because of overall evidence of increased risk of several types of cancer, and potential exposure in fire scenarios (IARC, 2006), it is important to take protective action to minimize exposure to this chemical.
Also, breast cancer risk was higher in several large-scale studies of women working in jobs exposed to high levels of benzene (as an organic solvent) (Hansen, 1999; Petralia et al., 1998). More studies are needed on whether benzene inhalation in other professions affects the risk of breast cancer.
Benzene Has Adverse Effect on White Blood Cells
All exposure to benzene is toxic and has measurable adverse health effects on lymphocytes (special white blood cells critical in fighting infections and cancers).
Researchers report that Chinese factory workers breathing benzene at levels permissible by U.S. standards have fewer white blood cells and platelets than unexposed workers do.
Experts have known for years that high levels of benzene reduce white blood cell counts and cause leukemia in people. Benzene is found in gasoline and tobacco and is used in many chemical manufacturing processes. U.S. guidelines allow workers to breathe air with as much as one part per million (1 ppm) benzene, averaged over an eight-hour workday.
What has captivated the scientific community is the question of how VOCs cause cancer. It has been confirmed that all VOCs generate high levels of free radicals in the bone marrow and circulating lymphocytes.
Not so with benzene: the toxicity comes from phenol and hydroquinone, two metabolites of benzene, produced by the body to detoxify the benzene.
Based on observed cancer rates at high exposures, studies have estimated the increased cancer risk from lifetime exposure at the 1 ppm level to be between 0.7 and 2.5 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Any Amount of Benzene May Be Toxic
Additionally, several studies have concluded there is no level of benzene exposure at which lower levels are nontoxic. Benzene is toxic at all levels and with chronic exposure – especially in people with certain genetic weaknesses – cancer will likely develop.
In one study that relates directly to the oil problems in the Gulf, the incidence of leukemia in people from two Louisiana parishes living downwind from a large oil refinery that emitted large levels of VOCs, including benzene, was studied. Researchers found a clear elevation in the number of leukemia cases in those two parishes versus similar demographic parishes that weren’t downwind from the refineries.
Most scientists agree that exposure to VOCs increases risk to blood-cell cancers; one study points to the exposure to benzene in the workplace would result in an increased risk of breast cancer in women.
While not definitive, it's worth being aware of especially for those women with a genetic sensitivity to benzene toxicity.
The way in which benzene causes cancer is pretty clear: it generates large storms of free radicals and lipid peroxidation products that damage the DNA of bone marrow stem cells.
People with an antioxidant deficiency (low levels of antioxidant enzymes, such as catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase), are at high risk from all of the VOCs. Their condition may be impacted by a poor diet, exposure to multiple toxins, and high levels of stress and genetics.
What is of major concern is this: time. The time between exposure to benzene and the development of the cancer – called latency – is longer for chronic lymphocytic leukemia and multiple myeloma, and can be at least a decade.
The Horrible Risk to Unborn Developing Children
Unknown to most people, exposure to paint is particularly toxic to the developing embryo, fetus and infant. Paint contains a large number of VOC. The amount of VOCs in paint rises as the paint gets more vibrant in color. There are more VOCs in oil-based paint than in latex or water-based paint. Lead-based paint has the most VOCs.
Consequences of exposure to high concentrations of benzene and other VOCs can include miscarriage, low birth weight, birth defects, developmental disabilities, high concentrations of free radicals within fetal bone marrow and a higher risk of developing childhood leukemia.
Study upon study demonstrated that benzene causes a dramatic increase in dangerous inflammation in bone marrow and that there is a clear link between chronic inflammation and the development of cancer.
The damage in many cases extends even further: for men exposed to "acceptable" levels of benzene severe chromosome abnormality – called aneuploidy – in their sperm were present. An extra or missing chromosome is a common cause of genetic disorders (birth defects). The most common aneuploidy that infants can survive with is trisomy 21, which is found in Down syndrome.
The new concern among toxicologists is over mixed toxicities – people being exposed to simultaneous toxic compounds. What concerns them is that when combined, the full toxicity of the compound is achieved.
Breathe Better – with Plants
The NASA Clean Air Study has been led by the NASA in association with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA). Its results suggest that certain common indoor plants may provide a natural way of removing toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air, helping neutralize the effects of sick building syndrome.
What follows is the first list from that study:
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Golden pothos or Devil's ivy (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
Bamboo palm or reed palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
Snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, syn. Philodendron cordatum)
Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum, syn. Philodendron selloum)
Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragans 'Massangeana')
Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig')
Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis 'Warneckii')
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Gerbera Daisy or Barberton daisy(Gerbera jamesonii)
Pot Mum or Florist's Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata "Bostoniensis")
Kimberly queen fern (Nephrolepis obliterata)
Dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
Dendrobium orchid (Dendrobium sp.)
Dumb cane (Camilla) (Dieffenbachia)
Dumb cane (Exotica) (Dieffenbachia)
King of Hearts (Homalomena wallisii)
Moth orchid (Phalenopsis sp.)