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Toxic World

Toxic World

The Gulf oil spill has focused our attention on the chemicals in our environment and the long term consequences of chemical exposures. Dr. Taylor will give a lecture reviewing the risks and how to minimize exposure Saturday, August 7th, at 11:30 AM at Chautauqua Hall in Pacific Grove.

Forty years ago, concern over chemical exposures was voiced by a small minority. This changed this year when two very important scientific bodies clearly stated this is not only an issue but an issue of the highest importance. The first was The President’s Cancer Panel Report released April 2010 titled “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk-what we can do now”. The cover letter to President Obama states clearly that the evidence continues to accumulate linking environmental and occupational exposures and that the public is “increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented through appropriate national action.”

The second important report is the Scientific Statement of the Endocrine Society titled Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals, published in Endocrine Reviews, June 2009 and released as a free pdf on the internet. This is a highly technical report but summarizes the ample evidence that endocrine disruptors are implicated in breast and prostate cancer, thyroid function, diabetes and obesity.

Why are these scientific bodies concerned about these apparently exotic chemicals? It is because they are so prevalent and occasionally so persistent. We all know that DDT was banned decades ago, but are still detected in most Americans. Of greater concern, is the clear evidence that newborns and infants have the highest levels.

We do not have a treatment to remove these toxins once they are present. We need to engage the Precautionary Principle and to limit exposure. During the lecture, I will discuss sources of exposure and how to reasonably reduce your risk. We are all looking at big changes in our lives. This is one that we can manage to improve the quality of our lives and our family’s lives.

For now, limit your exposure to plastics, canned foods with BPA plastic liners, pesticides, herbicides, and some cosmetics. Never microwave your food in a plastic container. Look for glass storage whenever possible.

The Green Guide by National Geographic is excellent and they have just published a guidebook. The cosmetic issue is explored by Women and the Environment at http://www.womenandenvironment.org/

The Center for Disease Control tracks exposure and this report is available at http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/

The full 200+ page President’s Cancer Report is available for free at: http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/ADVISORY/pcp/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf