The Oakland Tribune (which
has been appearing, unsolicited and unwanted, on my doorstep for
months) has never been one of my go-to media sources. But they’ve
impressed me this week, with a three part series
on the body burden of toxic chemicals carried by at least one typical
US family — a family the newspaper had tested, with some shocking
This is our ‘body burden’ — our chemical legacy, picked up from our possessions, passed to our
children and sown across the environment. It’s the result, scientists say, of 50 years of increasing
reliance on synthetic chemicals for every facet of our daily lives.
Only recently have regulators grasped its scope. Health officials have yet to fully comprehend
We are all, in a sense, subjects of an experiment, with no way to buy your way out, eat your way
out or exercise your way out. We are guinea pigs when it comes to the unknown long-term threat these
chemicals pose in our bodies and, in particular, our children.
The main articles:
What’s in you?
The great experiment
The body chemmical
Plus many sidebars, with additional detail and resources. (Plus a
surprisingly lame search engine that makes it all but impossible to
find everything. So it goes.)
We make perfume from petroleum and preserve food in plastic. Our chances of dying in a building
fire are almost nil. We clean bathrooms without scrubbing, spill coffee without worry of a
Yet these modern wonders come with a price. As synthetic chemicals have saturated our lives, so
too have they permeated our bodies.
We don’t know the effect it has on our health. But scientists do have suspicions.
Autism, once an affliction of 1 in 10,000 children, today is the scourge of 1 in 166.
Childhood asthma rates have similarly exploded. And one in 12 couples of reproductive age in the
United States is infertile.
One may not cause the other; to draw such links remains, for now, beyond the grasp of science.
Industry and other scientists say exposure remains well below levels considered harmful Ö
the Hammond Holland’s numbers notwithstanding. Our ability to detect these compounds, invisible even
five years ago, has outstripped our ability to interpret the results.
Publishing body burden data, in other words, does little but make people worry.