- Bisphenol A (BPA): A synthetic estrogen used to harden plastics and resins.
- Brominated dioxins: Created when plastics and waste are incinerated.
- Haloacetic acids: Byproducts of water disinfection.
- Methylmercury: A byproduct of coal-fired power plants and waste incinerators and an organic compound used in pesticides.
- Perfluorochemicals (PFCs): Water, stain, and grease repellents.
- Phthalates: Plasticizers used to make flexible products like food packaging.
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs): Flame retardants used in foam furniture, TVs, and computer monitors.
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): Coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment [banned in the U.S. in 1979].
- Trihalomathanes (THMs): Byproducts formed when water is disinfected.
These are just a few of the estimated 80,000 chemicals in commercial use in the U.S., with an additional 2,000 or so newly synthesized chemicals registered by the government every year. We inhale them, swallow them, and absorb them through our skin - or as unborn babies, through our umbilical cords. Although the effect of some of these chemicals to cause cancer, birth defects, immune system damage, or hormone interference is well-documented, the potential health impact of others is unknown, although they are being studied. Researchers estimate that the body of everyone alive today contains an average of 700 contaminants. Which brings us to our new term for the day: "body burden." This refers to the total amount of these toxic chemicals - both those that occur naturally and those made by humans - that are present in a human body at any given time. "Body burden" may also be used to express the amount of a single specific chemical in our system. A particularly depressing post in a particularly depressing time...