Tag Archives: pollution

The Racket Known As Flame Retardants

Illustration thumbnail: Reducing your risk                                                 

As Nicholas Kristof writes in this weekend’s column, Are You Safe On That Sofa?, the Chicago Tribune series, Playing with Fire,  is a must-read. (Click here to see the package) It’s about the history behind the “protective” toxins in our furniture known as flame retardants.

The chemicals embedded in our household upholstery are toxic to humans, and, according to this investigation, useless. But that’s not the news. Experts have known for some time that endocrine disruptors and other ubiquitous chemicals are linked to cancer, fetal damage, child development problems and fertility problems.  The real story? It turns out that flame retardants’ whole reason for being was just to protect the tobacco industry.  The “protect-people-from-fires” thing was just a smokescreen.

I hope my mom reads this report.  This is the reason I insisted on organic cotton clothing for my newborn and why we need real public health policies and laws like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to protect us from industrial chemicals and the corporations that profit from them.

Bravo to reporters Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne!

Related alternahealthgrrrl.com content:  Toxins on Shoes and Other Environmental Exposures to Avoid; Lyme Disease Alert! + DEET alternatives that protect without toxins;  Air Pollution Linked to Kids’ Anxiety and Attention Problems; What Siberian Husky Sled Dogs Reveal About Human Bodies.

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Holistic Health: What Siberian Husky Sled Dogs Reveal About Our Human Bodies

What will happen if our bodies are continually exposed to mercury? To  answer that question, scientists in Alaska studied Siberian Husky sled dogs, who, like the region’s indigenous people, eat a famously healthy diet of antioxidant-and omega-3 rich-foods such as moose, black bear, salmon and pike.

By comparing samples of the sled dogs’ blood and hair  to samples from kennel huskies that ate processed food, the researchers observed that the mercury levels in the sled dogs’ systems of were high—and high enough to interfere with antioxidant status. After two months, the mercury contamination messed with antioxidant status enough to pose a health risk to the animals—and probably the people who are exposed to the same environmental hazards.

Most of the mercury in the dogs’ environment comes from coal-generated power plants located far away from the Yukon, and it eventually accumulates in the tissue of the fish and animals that the dogs eat.  “While the mercury levels of the salmon are well below EPA standards,” say the authors, “The fact that the mercury had such a negative impact on antioxidant status indicates that monitoring should continue and that mercury generation should be monitored.”

Something to keep in mind the next time you order some wild Alaskan salmon.

Source: IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters