Snow Atop the Andes Mountains No Longer Pure …
Why Should This Concern You?
© 2014 Health Realizations, Inc. Update
Stretching 4,500 miles from Venezuela to the tip of Chile are the Andes Mountains, drawing thousands of visitors each year to witness the longest mountain range along with one of the highest mountain peaks in the world.
Traces of toxic PCBs have made their way to one of the “purest” places on Earth: the top of the Andes mountains.
Sadly, even remote parts of the world like this -- long considered to be among the purest forms of nature -- have been tainted by environmental pollutants. In a recent study researchers tested snow samples from Aconcagua Mountain in Argentina, considered the highest peak in the Andes at 22,834 feet high, and found traces of a toxic pollutant called PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls).
How PCBS are Making Their Way Into the Environment
PCBs are a mixture of 209 man-made chlorinated chemicals. They can enter the environment through air, water, and soil during their manufacture, use, and disposal; from accidental spills and leaks during their transport; and from leaks or fires in products containing PCBs.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), before being banned in the United States in 1979, PCBs were found in various products such as old fluorescent lighting fixtures and electrical devices containing PCB capacitors, old microscope and hydraulic oils, paints and carbonless copy paper.
Even though the traces of PCB found in the Andes snow samples were low, researchers expressed serious concerns because:
These contaminants found their way through the atmosphere to these very remote areas of 20,340 feet elevation
A change in climate -- such as a warm spell that would cause glaciers to melt -- would lead to pollutants finding their way into the meltwater that is used for agriculture and drinking
"The shrinking of glaciers could lead to the pollutants stored in the glacier snow being carried down with the meltwater," Roberto Quiroz, now at the EULA Chile Environmental Sciences Center, told LiveScience.com.
Other concerns raised from the study findings include:
PCBs break down slowly and can linger in the environment for many years.
PCBs can be transported through the air long distances, and have been found in mountain ranges in Europe and Canada, as well as the Arctic.
Research in animals has shown PCB exposure can raise the risk of various health problems, including cancer, decreased immune responses, neurological problems, and offspring with low birth weights.
Studies on humans further support the view that PCBs are dangerous.
Closer to home in the United States research is showing that children exposed to low levels of PCBs in the womb are experiencing mental deficiencies later in life, such as poor reading comprehension, low IQs and memory problems.
PCBs are just one of the 85,000 industrial chemicals that have found their way into the environment of the United States over the last 50 years.
And more disturbing is that it is becoming more commonplace that environmental toxins such as lead and mercury are entering human bodies -- and most of its dangerous effects are on children.
This is due to their small size and bodies, higher metabolic rate and the fact that they breathe in more oxygen, drink more fluids, spend more time on the floor and carpet, put non-food potentially toxic items in their mouth and have key organs still developing such as the brain and nervous system, lungs, reproductive organs, kidney and liver.
All of these factors make children especially susceptible to interference from toxic chemicals.
If even the most remote places on the planet are now contaminated, this suggests the amount of toxins in more populated areas could soon be out of control.
Neurological Effects of Lead and Mercury
The heavy metal toxin and poor school performance connection has been under close scrutiny by researchers. For example, studies have shown that children with high levels of lead in their body do not perform as well in school and have lower IQs, shorter attention spans, more trouble with concentrating and following directions and tendencies toward impulsive, antisocial, violent behavior.
Humans are exposed to lead primarily through drinking water from lead-based plumbing materials, airborne lead-containing particles and lead-based paints.
Mercury exposure in adults causes nausea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal problems and at toxic levels has been linked to pain in the hands and feet, kidney disease and an overall negative effect on the central nervous system, causing tremors and behavioral abnormalities.
The most serious effects of mercury exposure impact the neurological functioning of children by impairing:
Attention and language abilities
Fine motor and visual spatial skills
Higher levels of autism were reported in a study of school districts in Texas that were shown to have elevated levels of mercury in the environment. A lot of debate continues on whether or not the use of mercury as a preservative in children’s vaccinations is contributing to the rise of autism cases as well.
Mercury exposure comes in two different forms: inorganic and organic. Examples of inorganic are the kind of mercury used in thermometers, barometers, dental fillings, batteries, electrical wiring and switches, fluorescent light bulbs, pesticides, fungicides, vaccines, paint, skin-tightening creams, antiseptic creams, pharmaceutical drugs, and other ointments.
The other kind, organic mercury, tends to bio-accumulate in humans due to the body’s inability to process and get rid of it. Although people are primarily exposed from eating contaminated fish and other seafood, it is also often found in other food sources such as produce, farm animals, processed grains, dairy products and surface water sources.
Do you Know What’s in Your Pesticides and Plastic Products?
Over the years much concern has been raised over certain chemicals used in pesticides and their widespread use in household applications such as insecticides.
One particularly toxic compound used in pesticides -- organophospate -- has been linked to different kinds of cancers and hormonal disruption. It works by breaking down quickly into the environment and is considered one of the most toxic in agricultural use. There are approximately 40 different kinds of pesticides with this compound as their base that are currently on the market in the United States.
One type of organophosphate pesticide called Chlorpyrifos, otherwise known as Dursban, the common trade name it was sold under, was once the most widely used pesticide in the United States and was banned from use in gardens and homes by the EPA in 2000 after scientific research uncovered its dangerous potential effects. It was mainly used in home and garden bug sprays and for the treatment of termites, cockroaches and fleas and as an active ingredient in pet flea and tick collars. It has also been used on school grounds and playing fields as a form of pest control.
Recently another form of chemical, plasticizers, have raised red flags among researchers on their safety or lack thereof. One of these chemicals that has hit the radar is bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make many different baby products such as bottles, sippy cups and pacifiers. Studies have shown that people with higher concentrations of it in their system were more likely to have cardiovascular disease, diabetes and abnormal liver enzyme concentrations.
How to Reduce the Number of Toxins in Your Home and Body
It’s clear that environmental toxins are becoming increasingly pervasive, but you can take a proactive approach now to protect yourself and your family from their potentially dangerous effects.
Here are four steps you can take to minimize your exposure and detoxify harmful environmental toxins from your body and home:
1. Wash Your Fruits and Vegetables
This is especially important if you aren’t eating all organic fruits and vegetables, as conventional produce will have come in contact with some kind of pesticide spray.
Contrary to popular belief, simply washing with water and peeling fruit and vegetables is not enough to protect yourself and your family from pesticides. It will reduce the levels somewhat, but it will not eliminate them.
2. Detox Your Body of Heavy Metals
Whether they have gotten into your system through drinking water, exposure to lead-based paints, mercury fillings or from eating foods like contaminated fish, you can take two important steps to remove them from your system.
Ask Us How to Best Detox to Remove Heavy Metals From Your Body
There are many ways of removing toxic metals from your body, but most of them involve expensive treatments where a doctor has to inject drugs or vitamins intravenously into your body via a drip. A lot of these drugs will also strip the good minerals from your body, something that is not recommended.
If you suspect heavy metals have already accumulated in your body from silver dental fillings, contaminated seafood and other foods, cosmetics, pollution, contaminated water and other sources it would be wise to disarm this potential “time-bomb” now before it potentially causes serious illness or death.
3. Stay on Top of Household Dust
Making up the seemingly innocuous dust in your home is a complex mixture of pet dander, fungal spores, particulates from indoor aerosols, soil, VOCs, traces of metals, shed human cells, mold spores and even chemicals like flame retardants, PCBs and paint.
Because all of this accumulates over time, many experts refer to house dust as an "indoor-pollution archive" or a "long-term accumulative sample" of contaminants, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Worse still, because dust is not normally exposed to moisture and sunlight, the contaminants within break down very slowly, and sometimes not at all. This is why the pesticide DDT has been found in 65 percent of dust samples collected in Massachusetts homes, despite being banned since the 1970s.
Since Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, there's plenty of time to be around this potentially toxic dust. This is especially concerning if you have small children or infants. Children who crawl and put their fingers in their mouth can ingest 10 grams of dust per day. And, since they're smaller than adults and their systems are still developing, they are at a higher risk from contaminants.
This is why dusting horizontal and other surfaces regularly is necessary to get dust out of your home -- but an ordinary dust cloth, the kind that just moves dust around, won't do.
What's the optimum choice for dusting? An antimicrobial microfiber line of mops, dusters, towels and more, which are used by leading hospitals and other healthcare organizations. Rather than just pushing dust around, or worse, stirring it up into the air, these Antimicrobial Microfiber products are made with positively charged ultramicrofibers that pick up everything in their path -- including dust and all of its microscopic attachments.
Ultramicrofibers small as an astonishing 3 microns are even smaller than most bacteria (each cleaning cloth contains over 300 miles of actual cleaning surface!). They pick up contaminants either used dry or dampened with water-no harsh cleaners needed.
Choosing antimicrobial ultramicrofiber cloths, mops and wipes is by far the smartest choice -- and the most economical since each cloth can be used over 100 times before being replaced -- for dusting in your home. One brand to consider is PerfectClean.
4. Leave Your Shoes at the Door
You’d be surprised at the number of bacteria, germs and contaminants you pick up and track around on the bottom of your shoes. This is why taking off your shoes and leaving them at the front door when you come in is key to keeping your home as germ-free as possible.
If you have toddlers who crawl on the floor, or if you like to walk barefoot, this is especially important.
And here's something you may not know: Dirt in your home has been verified as one of today's top health risks and one of two primary counter-measures to the risks (the other is proper home cleaning) is to use high-quality mats and rugs at your doorways and other key high-traffic areas.
One high quality commercial brand doormat that has proven to last for your home, is Waterhog Grand Premier Mats and Rugs. These types of floor mats actually trap soil and liquids in the mat so they don't drain or track onto your floors. This is one commercial quality mat recommended to consumers and businesses who are health and safety conscious -- and want something that's attractive as well.
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