Chemical Exposure: Reducing Your Risk

by Dr. Andrew Iverson, ND, Tacoma Health

It is hard to imagine that our living environment, which appears clean and harmless, is actually contaminated with numerous poisons that could be accumulating to life threatening levels over time. Unfortunately, many can’t be seen, smelled, felt, identified, or detected by the human senses. It is not until after years and years of subtle chronic exposure when symptoms can emerge and become identified as diseases by many names like cardiovascular disease, dementia, or cancer.

Early warning signs of hidden chemical toxicity may be linked to common symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, headaches, allergies, chemical sensitivities, immune deficiency, weight imbalances, sadness or nervousness, worsening forgetfulness, decreased body temperature, and overall feelings of “yuck” or malaise.

Environmental Chemicals
These poisons or “environmental toxins” are most commonly from “modern living” and linger as contaminants in air, drinking water, food, and soil. They come from industrial wastes, petroleum, coal and garbage combustion, pesticides, herbicides, mining leading to erosion and the release of heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury into the soil and water. They can also come from apparently harmless environments such as our homes and the gas fumes let off by wood, paint, and glues, hygiene products like hair and body cleansers, toothpaste, deodorants, and cosmetics. Don’t forget the toxic chemicals in prescription drugs, detergents, household cleaners, upholstery, artificial fabrics, computers, and TVs.

The majority of these chemical poisons become deposited in the fatty tissue because of their “lipo-philic” or “fat-loving” nature. Tissues that are dense with fat will also accumulate high amounts of chemicals such as the nerves, glands (especially thyroid and sex glands), heart and arteries lined with cholesterol, and of course the brain. They can be also detected in the blood and organs or passed through the body in breast milk, urine, feces, sweat, semen, hair, and nails. The prestigious British Medical Journal estimates 75% of cancers are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors including exposure to chemicals. (1)

What can I do? Simple Tips for Reducing Exposure to Chemicals
• Eat fewer processed foods: they often contain chemical additives.
• Eat organic meat, butter, wild game, and produce. They are free of pesticides and preservatives.
• Eat less meat and high fat dairy products, which contain higher levels of some pollutants.
• Don’t microwave or cook food in plastic containers, Ziploc bags, or plastic wrap. Use glass.
• Run your tap water through a home filter before drinking.
• Remove chlorine through a shower filter before bathing.
• Avoid breathing fumes from burned garbage and diesel/gas fumes.
• Check cosmetics and personal care products for toxic ingredients.
• Avoid artificial fragrances, deodorants, and air fresheners.
• Reduce the number of household cleaners you use. Try vinegar, natural soaps, and water first.
• Avoid cleaning products that say “use in well-ventilated area.” Replace with safe products.
• Avoid breathing gasoline fumes when you’re filling your car.
• Eat seafood known to be low in PCB and mercury, like northern wild salmon, sardines, and herring.
• Avoid tuna and other predatorial fish (shark, swordfish, marlin, tilefish, grouper, and snapper, which are all high in mercury.
• Don’t use nail polish, which contains chemicals linked to birth defects in laboratory studies.
• Stay 3 feet away from appliances: microwave, stove, oven, toaster, dryer, heaters.
• Keep children 10 feet from the TV.
• Keep clocks, radios, and cell phones 3 feet away from sleeping  areas.
• Stay 3 feet away from computer video display terminal.
• Un-bag dry cleaning and air out in the garage for a day.
• Use environmentally friendly paint with low VOC-emittance.
• Avoid vinyl products like shower curtains, wall paper and floor coverings.
• Choose carpet and padding that have a low smell level; air out before installing.
• Don’t sleep under an electric blanket or on a waterbed. If you insist on using these, unplug them before going to bed (don’t just turn it off).

Toxicity Treatment
All of these detoxification treatments will be discussed in length in Dr. Iverson’s new book Nature’s Detox, the accompaniment to Nature’s Diet and Nature’s Diet Cookbook.

We seek to find the sources of contamination as well as the overall level of exposure of patients to prevent further accumulation of poisons. Through testing of the urine for heavy metals and reflex testing for plastics, pesticides, hydrocarbons and other organic molecules we are able find the overall level of burdens that poison the body. To clear the body of these harmful chemicals we may choose several methods of detoxification.

1. Dietary modifications are the first step in beginning the elimination process.
2. Herbal cleanses purge the intestines, liver, kidneys, blood and lymph of excess wastes.
3. Homeopathic medicines liberate poisons within the cells through processes called “drainage.”
4. Chelation is a very powerful method by which certain substances like DMSA, DMPS, and EDTA can grab onto and remove heavy metals.
5. Vigorous exercise mobilizes fat stores and eliminates chemicals through sweating and hyperventilation.
6. Hydrotherapy and body work such as skin brushing, deep tissue massage, and hot water applications like saunas and hot tubs increase elimination of chemicals through the skin.
7. The underestimated cleansing action of colonics helps remove a multitude of chemicals from the intestinal mucosa and the liver through bile releases of the gallbladder.
8. Water fasting to induce ketosis is the ultimate means of cleansing by breaking down fat cells that hold the body’s accumulated wastes.

Dr. Iverson and his colleagues at Tacoma Clinic seek to find the sources of contamination as well as the overall level of exposure of patients to prevent further accumulation of poisons. Through testing they are able find the overall level of toxic burdens in the body, and remove harmful chemicals through several methods of detoxification.

1) BMJ 2004; 328:447-451 (21 February)