Governments around the world have finally come around to admitting the obvious: air pollution isn’t very good for us. And it’s not just the particulate matter belched out in exhaust fumes. We’re talking about the estimated 80,000 chemicals in our food, air, water and homes, all poisoning us in slow motion.
Up until now, companies like Monsanto could claim that there was no way to definitely assess the potential damage of airborne chemicals, and so no way to make any connection between the chemicals manufactured by them and ill health.
The crux of the problem was the need to demonstrate clear cause and effect between a particular chemical and particular damage, and which of our chemical pathways they disturb.
But that’s no longer the case.
Modern advances in chemistry and new technology now enable scientists to examine specific chemicals within air samples and isolate exactly what they’re doing to our bodies.
The answer isn’t pretty.
The most dangerous aspect is what they do to various signaling pathways. They mess with our immune systems in a manner that suppresses the body’s ability to fight other onslaughts, even infections like the flu.
There’s also long-term evidence that even low concentrations of industrial chemicals can interrupt our hormone messaging system by mimicry, so that the body reacts as if it received genuine hormonal signals, or by blocking the production of hormones so that the signals don’t get sent, or even interfering with our ability to break down and eliminate hormones from the body.
This is not news. Some 23-odd years ago, in an article reviewing Theo Colborn's book, Our Stolen Future, Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly, the Environmental Research Foundation’s former publication named after Silent Spring author Rachel Carson, warned: “No matter where you live today, whether in New York City, or on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean, anyone willing to put up the $2000 for testing will find more than 250 synthetic industrial chemicals in their body.”
And that was a quarter century ago. Even if certain air or industrial pollution is within acceptable limits, the combined and cumulative effect magnifies the effect by thousands of times. For instance, the combined effect of two or three pesticides at low levels, as might be found in most ordinary modern environments, magnifies the effect of any single insecticide by up to 1600 times.
Just think of the unimaginable effect of each of these common poisons, magnified by 1600 times, multiplied by the 1600-times magnified effect of a large percentage of the 80,000 others we’re being exposed to.
As People Against Cancer’s founder Frank Weiwal once memorably put it: “There just aren’t enough zeros out there to work out the risk.”
In Our Stolen Future, Colborn provided evidence and hypotheses suggesting that these chemicals are behind everything from diminishing numbers of a variety of species, to increases in certain human hormonal cancers such as prostate and breast cancer, a lowering of sperm count, a lowering of IQ, reduced attention spans and even increased violence and aggression.
More recent studies show that pollution may be behind the explosion in respiratory and skin conditions, cognitive issues like dementia—and so much more.
If this all sounds Armageddon-like, the good news is that there are some simple measures you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.
The simplest measures are avoidance. Research shows that cutting out exposure to pesticides by eating organically can sharply reduce your levels of these toxic chemicals quite quickly. There are also loads of natural substances, particularly herbs like guduchi, aloe vera and ashwaganda, which are highly effective as antioxidants or at clearing out particulate matter that can quickly lighten your body’s load.
Of course, the ultimate answer lies in governments no longer bowing to industry and enacting and enforcing protective legislation. But unless and until that happens, all of us need to take immediate measures to protect ourselves.
For that, we can take a tip from Mother Nature. One of the most fascinating aspects of my job is the repeated discovery that for just about every health problem, there’s a natural solution. For diabetes, there’s new evidence that raspberries reverse the condition; for Alzheimer’s, the simple tomato can restore cognitive function.
Mother Nature continuously shows herself to be able to outwit humans. She’s even figured out an antidote for the health threats, like pollution, that we’ve foisted on ourselves.