Friday, December 02, 2011

A toxic world: Women, men and children react differently to environmental pollution

You can't hide from environmental pollutants.
Most people in North America are being exposed to environmental toxins or chemicals on a continuous basis.

They are found in our home's building materials, our furniture, our household products, our food and our clothing.

As of now, environmental experts are relying on biomonitoring studies that take samples of people’s blood, hair or fingernails to find out which chemicals make up the body burden.

As our bodies accumulate more synthetic chemicals and our body burdens grow heavier, there is also an incidental rise in diseases and disorders like cancer, development syndromes, reproductive disorders and autoimmune diseases.

Most studies, however, don’t take into account how women, men and children may react differently to environmental pollutants and could suffer from different health outcomes.

Children, for example, are still developing their bodily systems and they breathe more and ingest more in relation to their body size. Women, too, may be more at risk, according to the director of the National Network on Environments and Women's Health.

In the organization's recent report Sex, Gender & Chemicals: Factoring Women into the Chemicals Management Plan, they examine Canada’s way to assess a chemical’s risk to determine whether it is toxic.

According to the report, there are several places where the government did not consider sex and gender in the risk assessments for common chemicals, and where -- if they had done so -- a chemical may have been listed toxic, but instead remains in circulation.

Examples include
  • BHA, an additive used as a preservative in foods, drugs and personal care products. The government did not take into account that women use more personal care products than men, on average and may be exposed to much higher quantities
  • HBCD, a flame retardant found in furniture and window coverings and carpets. The government did not consider higher exposure of northern communities or infants
  • BPA, a common chemicals that was finally banned in baby bottles, but there was no action to ban it from other sources of exposure, including can linings and debit receipts.

The organization calls for more protection and to put people’s interest over industry interest, since there is limited individual control over exposures outside of the home (or with a limited budget).

Reduce chemical exposure at home
AllerAir's numerical series helps
keep the air clean.

There are many steps people can take to reduce their exposure to chemicals at home:

  • Avoid products with synthetic chemicals as much as possible
  • Keep the home well ventilated
  • Use a room air purifier with activated carbon and HEPA

The activated carbon filters in AllerAir air purifiers can remove a wide range of chemicals, gases, odors, VOCs and fumes. The carbon boasts a large internal surface area where gaseous pollutants get trapped by way of a chemical reaction.

The HEPA and pre-filter in the multistage filtration system filter out airborne particles and dust as well as microorganisms (for extra protection against bacteria, mold and viruses, opt for UV germicidal filtration).

Contact AllerAir for more information.