“Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge. Let your learning lead to action,” author Jim Rohn writes. But sometimes we must first unlearn what we once believed to be true before we’re able to learn and take action. One of my big questions is why aren’t environmental chemical exposure and bioaccumulation being discussed in initiatives to combat disease if there is so much known about the detrimental health effects of these toxicants? When no discussion is happening, self-education on the body’s environmental chemical burden has to happen. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s first begin with a good understanding of the human body.
The Human Body.
A very simple training module on Anatomy & Physiology is available from the National Institutes of Health. It’s a self-paced learning tool that can help you understand how the human body works. You can select a body system, such as the “Endocrine Glands & Their Hormones,” and outside links will be accessible throughout the module that will guide you to even further information and resources. Each module is also wonderfully illustrated to help with understanding the material more fully.
Maybe you have an issue with your thyroid gland or your cardiovascular system and want to know more about what that system looks like when it’s functioning at its optimal level, as well as what happens when that system goes awry. It’s a great website to spend time with to educate yourself and others on their bodies.
The American Cancer Society’s website lists environmental chemicals that have been linked to cancer and each category offers a way to download more information. For instance, under “Known Human Carcinogens” classified as Group 1 chemicals by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, one can download pdf files on the chemical in question. As you scroll down the website, you’ll see chemicals listed by the National Toxicology Program with an option to download their 14th report on carcinogens. But keep scrolling. The results are staggering.
The Body’s Chemical Burden.
There are 273 chemicals on the National Toxicology Program’s website with information on how they affect our organs, tissues, and body systems. And those 273 chemicals just relate to cancer. Hundreds more chemicals are listed for other diseases affect every body system. On the NTP site you can search by animal or human, or both, and then click on the chemicals listed in the results to find out how one is being exposed. It also shows you whether the research evidence is strong or merely suggestive.
Pesticides And Autoimmune Disorders.
How might the environment be affecting 24 million people in the US with autoimmune disorders? Researchers have found that exposure to pesticides can be a factor, so can exposure to mercury. But autoimmune disorders are sometimes amplified by exposure to other environmental pollutants, as well. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association lists over 100 disorders on their website with links to help you learn more about them, complete with Education Modules.
A non-profit organization, Toxic-Free Future’s website hosts a wealth of information. One blog begins, “What do sperm, kids, salmon, and orcas have in common besides that they all swim? All can be harmed by toxic chemicals put in consumer products!” Spread the word about this organization that is not only helping to create more awareness of the problems we face today with environmental chemical exposure, but are also offering resources and tools to help us avoid future exposure as much as we can.
Pediatric Training Course.
In the early 1950s when I was born my mother didn’t pass numerous environmental chemicals on to me through her placenta. Yet in just the last decade and a half, data showed that the average infant came into this world with an average of 287 toxicants in their umbilical cord blood. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has developed a wonderful resource – the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit Training Module. This free course will take approximately 90 minutes to complete and if you need continuing ed credits, simply complete the post test.
More CEs And Online Learning.
You can also catch up on CEs or just learn more from the National Environmental Health Association. Their website has endless information and there’s a good chance that you’ll find a topic you’re interested in. The Collaborative on Health and the Environment website has provided webinars and podcasts since 2002 on topics related to environmental health science. Even in the archived podcasts one can still listen to the recordings and download slides and resources. There are hundreds available, and they’re free. Find a topic that interests you and listen while you commute!
Elementary School Classroom Resources.
Are you an elementary or middle school educator and would like to share environmental science with your students? ToxTown, a division of the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, hosts a website where you can download lesson plans, games, and hands-on activities to teach kids about sources of exposure to environmental chemicals. There are also printable PDF files, videos, and links to other informational websites. Here is an example of a 2-minute video from ToxTown on nutrient pollution for kids.
There are several other websites with activities, games, and resources. One such website is the Sustainable Community Website from the Environmental Protection Agency. The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences has an entire website devoted to the environment and kid’s health. It, too, has games, activities, songs, and lesson plans. Additionally, National Geographic offers lesson plans for Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, and Grades 6-12.
Screening For Chemicals.
Several years ago, I opted to undergo a pricey body burden screening test from Genova Diagnostics. Their Toxic Effects Profile tested for 45 of the most common chemicals found in humans, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chlorinated and organophosphate pesticides, PCBs, BPA, phthalates, and parabens. For someone who had been eating organic since the late 1970s and had used the safest personal care and cleaning products for almost four decades, it came as a complete surprise when the results showed I was in the 80th percentile for benzene and styrene, the 95th percentile for PCB153, and showed detectable levels of DDE, phthalates, pesticides, BPA, and parabens. Being in the 95th percentile means only 5% of other individuals that were tested exceeded the level found in my body.
Don’t want to spend $1,000? Dr. Claudia S. Miller developed “the most widely used screening instrument for chemical intolerance.” A professor at the University of Texas School of Medicine in San Antonio, she researches the underlying environmental causes of disease. Take this questionnaire found on her website.
Okay. So now you know we all have chemicals in our bodies. Are you looking for a formal detoxification plan? The University of Wisconsin’s Integrative Medicine website has a 12-page pdf file you can download. It includes what to eat, supplements that can assist the body, and more.
You’ll notice tthis document mentions the use of milk thistle, dandelion and turmeric. Are you familiar with the American Botanical Council website? Take advantage of the all the information it has to offer on plant medicine and essential oils that you may be using in your detoxification program or elsewhere in matters related to your health.
The Unlearning Part.
Hopefully if you’ve gotten this far you recognize that many of the chemicals used today are not safe, even though we’re told that they are. There are plenty of problems with toxicants and their effects on the human body, so please continue to learn (and unlearn) by reading my other blogs. Then please help spread these resource-filled blogs on your social media!