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The 75 Most Toxic Chemicals in Our Blood

Toxic chemicals in blood and ways to avoid them

Date:   2/20/2006 3:32:20 PM   ( 15 y ) ... viewed 2383 times

by Rachel Murphy
The Mirror

08 October 2004

CAUTION: Non-stick pans; SARA; 33 chemicals; IAN; 30 chemicals; MOLLIE; 35 chemicals; AMY; 32 chemicals; PATRICIA; 31 chemicals; LOUIS; 26 chemicals

THEY are an ordinary hard-working British family with three happy children and a jolly granny.

Lined up outside their Devon home, the Clements are typical of a million other mums, dads, teenagers, kids and pensioners up and down the country.

But behind their smiles lies a shocking reality.

Each member of the family has been contaminated with more than 25 hazardous, man-made chemicals which could be slowly destroying their health.

And the rest of us are likely to have similar levels of chemicals in our blood.

Mum Sara, dad Ian, their children Louis, Amy, and Mollie, and grandmother Patricia Humphries all took part in a WWF study of seven families to find out how polluted our bodies are.

It is the first time that three generations of the same family have been subjected to such a rigorous battery of test for a total of 104 man-made chemicals.

It was thought that grandparents - having been exposed to chemicals that are now banned and with many more years of exposure behind them - might have been more contaminated than the younger generations.

But the children were actually found to have 75 different chemicals in their blood compared to the 56 in their grandparents' blood.

Many of the chemicals are used in the manufacture of furniture, TVs, non-stick pans, carpets and clothing.

Experts believe the children may have inherited older toxins from their mother's blood in pregnancy or through breast milk, as well as being bombarded by scores of newer chemicals in the course of their daily lives.

Many are so new that scientists have no idea how they will react with older chemicals already in the body- and we don't know what the long term effect on health will be.

"This is a wake-up call to the UK government and the European Union to stop repeating the mistakes of the past and ensure these chemicals are banned and replaced with safer alternatives," says Justin Woolford, WWF Chemicals and Health campaign director.

More than three quarters of the volunteers had the chemical DEHP in their blood. A suspected hormone disrupting toxin, it is used in plastics, PVC flooring, food packaging, cosmetics and toiletries

And PCBs, banned at least a decade before the children were even born, were found in everyone tested.

Disturbingly, the WWF report concludes that lifestyle choices, the food we eat and the products we use may only slightly influence the types and levels of chemicals we are exposed to.

They claim the only way to really reduce the chemicals in our bodies is by tougher legislation.

We took a look at the Clements' family to find out what chemicals they are carrying and where they might have come from:

GRANDMOTHER Patricia Humphries, 64, is a retired lab technician from Bournemouth. She is Sara's mother.

PATRICIA has 31 chemicals in her blood, the highest number of the 'non-stick' chemicals, PFCs - more than twice as many as any other family member.

She also had the highest pesticide levels and second highest level of phthalates, which are used in plastics and consumer products.

She was also third highest in banned PCBs. The family have no idea why she is so high in pesticides, but are sure the PFCs come from her collection of non-stick pans.

She has used non-stick cooking pans for 20 years and also has new stain-resistant carpets and rainproof jackets, also coated with PFCs.

Phthalates may come from the PVC floor in her new kitchen while her PCB levels might be due to the fact she eats farmed fish twice a week and takes cod liver oil regularly.

FATHER Ian Clements, 45, is a former software consultant who now teaches the Alexander fitness technique.

IAN has 30 chemicals in his blood. He has the highest PCB burden in the whole survey and the greatest number of PBDEs which he may have picked up when he worked in a factory in the Eighties.

He used to cycle across London, so may have been polluted with fumes that way too.

MOTHER Sara Clements, 42, is working part-time as a nurse.

SARA has 33 chemicals in her blood.

She has the highest quantity of phthalates and had the total highest blood burden of chemicals in the family.

She is also second highest in 'non-stick' chemicals.

She blames an old PVC kitchen floor she had in her previous house which, until five years ago, she scrubbed daily.

The old house was under the Heathrow flight path, so she worries about pollution.

The family has three TVs and Sara works with electrical equipment in her hospital job.

She suffers from hay fever and allergic rhinitis, which are linked to exposure to phthalates.

SON Louis, 14.

HE had the lowest chemical levels overall in the whole family but had higher amounts of flame retardant PBDEs than his mother and grandmother and 17 different PCBs in his blood. His PBDEs may come from playing computer games or watching TV - he has a games console and television in his bedroom.

The PCBs found in his blood were banned before he was born but may have come from the food chain or passed directly from his mother in the womb or in her breast milk.

His lowest overall score may be due to the fact he spends more time outdoors than any other family member.

He also exercises more than any other member of the family.


AMY has 32 chemicals in her blood, more PBDEs than her mother and grandmother, and the highest number of phthalates in the whole family.

She has higher 'non-stick' chemicals than her mother and father. Like her brother, Amy likes computer games and watching TV.

Their old PVC floor might also be to blame for the high phthalates, as she had crawled on it as a toddler.

Amy was also exposed to household dust and fumes from when they pulled down an old chimney stack five years ago.

Her mum, Sara, stores some food in plastic containers, another possible chemical source for Amy

The PFCs may come from Amy's love of toasted sandwiches from a second-hand non-stick sandwich maker.

MOLLIE has the highest total number of chemicals in the whole family - 35.

She also has the joint highest level of PBDEs along with her dad, brother and sister and more PFCs than everybody, but her grandmother.

Her PBDEs may come from household electrical appliances like the TV or hairdryer or through foods - she likes meat and dairy products.

Sara doesn't use non-stick pans and Mollie never ate from the non-stick sandwich maker, but Mollie likes to visit other children and Sara has no idea what other mothers cook with.



WHAT ARE THEY? Pesticides to protect crops.

HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN AROUND? Since the 1940s but most were banned in the 1970s.

HOW DO THEY GET INTO OUR BLOOD? 90 per cent through food, also from mother to baby in the womb and in breast milk. May be inhaled from dry cleaning fumes.

WHAT ARE HEALTH RISKS? May cause cancers, neurological, reproductive and immune system problems, birth defects and developmental disabilities in children.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID THEM? Eat more organic food, cut intake of dairy products and red meat. Don't use pesticides in garden. Avoid dry cleaning.


WHAT ARE THEY? Industrial chemicals used in electrical equipment.

HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN AROUND? Widely used in 1970s, banned in late 70s.

HOW DO THEY GET INTO OUR BLOOD? 95 per cent through food. Electrical equipment dumped in landfill sites still leaks into the environment and the food chain. May be passed from mother to baby.

WHAT ARE HEALTH RISKS? Suspected link to autism, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder, plus other neurological conditions in babies.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID THEM? Eat wild oily fish, use only purified cod liver oil and eat more organic products and fresh fruit and vegetables.


WHAT ARE THEY? Flame retardants used in plastics, textiles, furniture, insulation foam, electrical appliances.

HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN AROUND? Several decades, dramatic increase in use in 1980s.

HOW DO THEY GET INTO OUR BLOOD? Through food and air.

WHAT ARE HEALTH RISKS? Some suspected hormone disrupters. Suspected link to reproductive cancers.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID THEM? Very difficult. Safety laws mean everything from TVs and washing machines to sofas and carpets must have them. Choose natural fibres for soft furnishings, wood floors or tiles. Ventilate home and office. Eat organic.PHTHALATES

WHAT ARE THEY? Man-made chemicals used in many consumer products to make plastics soft.

HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN AROUND? Since the 1920s, more widely used since the 1950s when PVC was invented.

HOW DO THEY GET INTO OUR BLOOD? Drinking water, soil, household dust, fish, fatty foods and also through breast milk.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH RISKS? The most common phthalate, DEHP, is a suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical, linked to decrease in sperm count. In house dust, linked to asthma, eczema and rhinitis in children.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID THEM? Don't let children chew soft plastic toys, avoid PVC flooring, ventilate your home well. Eat organic and cut down on red meat and dairy.


WHAT ARE THEY? PFCs, which are extremely hard to break down and repel water and oil. Used in non-stick pans, stain and water repellents for clothing, furniture, floor waxes and paper coatings.


HOW DO THEY GET INTO OUR BLOOD? They may enter food by cooking with non-stick pans, or could be in the food chain - no one really knows.

WHAT ARE HEALTH RISKS? So new it's not yet known - but persistence in the environment and body suggests they could be toxic.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID THEM? Avoid anything treated with non-stick chemicals.


WHAT ARE THEY? HHCB and AHTN are two artificial musks - man-made chemicals to scent toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning products.



WHAT ARE HEALTH RISKS? Unknown. May disrupt hormones.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID THEM? Use natural soaps and cleaning products.

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