Environmental toxins are all around us in our everyday lives. They hide in places we would least expect.
NIH National Cancer Institute explains that substances in the environment can actually damage our DNA. Damaged DNA can lead to changes in our cells, which then leads to cancer. Some of these substances can be avoided easily. When environmental toxins are in our water, air, or the materials used to perform our jobs, they are much more difficult to avoid. We’ll take a look at 4 environmental toxins to avoid.
Asbestos is what we call a group of fibrous minerals, found in nature, that are resistant to heat and corrosion. The naturally occurring substance has been used in commercial products such as insulation, fireproofing material, and indoor construction materials.
We are all exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air. These low level exposures rarely cause any problems. Repeated exposures over time has a much more harmful effect. Exposure happens when these materials are installed, and when they are disturbed after installation. When disturbed, the fibers become airborne, they are inhaled and become trapped in the lungs. Over time, and repeated exposures, the accumulation of these fibers can cause tissue inflammation. The accumulation can affect breathing and lead to cancer and other health problems.
BMJ Journals published a report by, P.E. Enterline, J. Hartley, and V.Henderson detailing the mortality experience of 1074 white men who retired from a United States asbestos company during the period 1941-67.
Significant statistics were noted for kidney cancer, cancer of the eye, and non-malignant respiratory disease in this study. By the end of 1980 %88 of the men had passed away. You can read the study here.
NIH National Cancer Institute says, Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling, flammable chemical that is produced industrially and used in building materials such as particleboard, plywood, and other pressed-wood products.
Since the 1980s, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has conducted studies to determine whether there is an association between occupational exposure to formaldehyde and an increase in the risk of cancer.
Formaldehyde has been classified by The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a probable human carcinogen under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen.
Measures such as good ventilation, moderate temperatures, and reduced humidity levels through the use of air conditioners and dehumidifiers can reduce exposure to formaldehyde.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is released from the normal decay of the elements uranium, and radium in rocks and soil. This gas usually exists at very low levels outdoors. The gas can accumulate in areas without adequate ventilation, such as underground mines and basements.
Radon is associated with high rates of lung cancer in uranium miners. There has been a suggestion of an increased risk of leukemia associated with radon exposure in adults and children; the evidence, however, is not conclusive.
NIH advises to check the radon levels in your home regularly. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more information about residential radon exposure and what people can do about it in its Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction.
Second Hand Smoke
Secondhand smoke is actually a mixture of 2 forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco:
Mainstream smoke is exhaled smoke.
Sidestream smoke is from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar. This type of smoke has higher concentrations of carcinogens and is more toxic than mainstream smoke. It also has smaller particles than mainstream smoke. These smaller particles can more easily make their way into the lungs and other parts of the body.
According to the American Cancer Society “There’s no safe level of exposure for secondhand smoke (SHS).”
You can read why smokers keep smoking while knowing the dangers here.
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