smoking

  • A Healthy Heart At Every Age

    A Healthy Heart At Every Age Ann Louise Gittleman

    Even if heart disease “doesn't run in your family,” this article is for you. Even if you have low cholesterol levels and your blood pressure is normal, this article is for you, too. This information doubles as both prevention and treatment— and its knowledge is critical for us all.

    In the past, you may have thought of heart disease as an illness that you associated predominately with men. These days, we know that more than one in three women have some form of cardiovascular disease. As of the 2016 fact sheet from the American Heart Association, 398,086 females passed away from cardiovascular disease or congenital cardiovascular disease, with 402,851 males passing away from the same. Further, they've found that 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stoke and that fewer women survive their first heart attack than men. This illness clearly does not favor one gender.

    So, what causes heart disease? Simply put, cardiovascular disease results when the lumens of the coronary arteries, which carry blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the heart, become smaller. This constriction can be caused by excess salt in the blood pulling fluid from the arteries. Arteries are further constricted by a buildup of fats, oxidized cholesterol, excess calcium, and plaque in the artery walls. Angina, or chest pain, occurs when the heart fails to receive enough oxygen through these narrowed arteries. When these arteries become obstructed, a heart attack can occur, resulting in damage to the heart tissue. This process of plaque buildup and obstruction is known as atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

    What Are the Risks?
    There are over 250 risk factors for heart disease that have been identified. However, you'll be relieved to know that a large number of these factors—including many that are especially dangerous—can be lowered with lifestyle choices and changes. However, two risk factors associated with heart disease are beyond your control: heredity and age. For both men and women, the closer your blood-tie to a relative who suffered from heart disease, the greater your risk of developing it. In addition, age is a factor for women. As women reach menopause, their risk factor of developing heart disease rises significantly. Regardless if your family history predisposes you to a higher risk or not or your current age, there are certain risk factors that you should be mindful to pay close attention to. Let's touch on a few that you can begin making changes to reduce today.

    High Blood Pressure
    Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is both a cause and an effect of cardiovascular disease. The exact cause of hypertension is generally unknown, but what we do know is that high blood pressure often accompanies heart disease. The excessive force of the blood against the arteries weakens the cellular walls, allowing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, excess calcium, and other toxic substances to form deposits that eventually block the arteries. Almost 50 percent of all midlife women are diagnosed with hypertension by age 50. Most who have hypertension are unaware of it because it usually produces no physical symptoms. Routine blood pressure checks, at least every two years, can detect potential hypertension; blood pressure readings above 140/90 may spell danger. Because so many test results have shown a direct relationship between high salt intake and hypertension, removing the salt shaker from your table would be wise. Sodium is a factor in hypertension because it causes fluid retention, which adds stress to both the heart and the circulatory system. Hypertension, left undiagnosed or untreated, can result in stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and other serious diseases.

    Smoking
    Let's face facts: if you still smoke, your chances of dying from heart disease are almost three times as great as those of dying from lung cancer. The negative effects of smoking on your cardiovascular system are related to several actions. Nicotine causes blood platelets to become sticky, increasing plaque formation. Smoking also has been shown to decrease levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Cigarettes are high in cadmium, a toxic mineral that damages heart tissue. The Nurses' Health Study, conducted by Harvard researchers, found that women who smoked just one to four cigarettes a day had nearly two and one-half times the rate of heart disease of nonsmokers. Keep in mind that even secondhand smoke increases your risk of heart disease, so make your home and car smoke-free environments.

    Obesity
    Unfortunately for us, weight appears to be a more significant risk factor for women than it is for men. A study by Harvard researcher JoAnn Manson, MD, found that in obese women, seven out of ten cases of heart disease resulted from their excess weight. Even women who are at the high end of their “normal” range seem to have an increased risk. To compound the problem, overweight women tend to be sedentary; they are also more likely to develop hypertension, high LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and type 2 diabetes, all of which increase the likelihood of heart disease. How the weight is distributed on your body also seems to have an impact.

    Women with an apple body shape—who have a proportionally higher amount of fat around their abdomen than elsewhere on their body—have higher rates of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes than their pear-shaped sisters, who carry their excess fat in their hips and thighs. Scientists believe this association relates to the hormone cortisol, which causes fatty acids to be released into the bloodstream from the central fat cells. These cells are located close to your liver; the released fatty acids stress the liver, causing cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin levels to rise. Psychology researcher Elissa S. Epel has also discovered that apple-shaped women feel stress more and produce more cortisol as a result than do pear-shaped women.

    Diabetes
    For us women, diabetes is an additional risk factor for heart disease. Blood platelets in diabetics seem to stick together more readily than in non-diabetics, causing clogging of the arteries. Diabetics also have higher total cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol levels. Research shows that women over the age of 45 are twice as likely as men to develop type 2 (formerly known as adult-onset) diabetes, and female diabetics are at double the risk of heart disease of male diabetics. The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be managed with diet and exercise.

    A Sedentary Lifestyle
    Movies depicting life on the nineteenth-century American frontier and Canadian wilderness are harsh reminders of just how physically demanding everyday life once was. We might enjoy watching someone else chop wood, carry buckets of water long distances, and walk behind a plow horse, but few of us would trade in our computers, microwave ovens, and central heating to live that life. All our muscles, including our heart, need exercise, however. Exercise helps lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. Regular aerobic exercise—such as walking, running, jumping rope, and dancing—reduces the risk of heart disease by about 30 percent in postmenopausal women. It also influences several other risk factors.

    People who exercise regularly have a 35 percent lower risk of hypertension, as well as a lower risk of diabetes. Exercise stimulates production of serotonin, endorphins, and other brain chemicals that reduce anxiety and stress and create a balanced sleep-wake cycle, helping to control cortisol levels. When you exercise, you also aid calcium metabolism, triggering the calcification process within your bones so excess calcium does not build up in your blood vessels. And you don't even need to spend one to two hours a day in strenuous activity to achieve cardiovascular benefits. Do keep in mind that over exercising can be just as harmful as being a couch potato. Moderate exercise, performed regularly, significantly decreases your risk of heart disease.

    No matter your age, stage, and gender, it's import to make daily choices that love your heart and your health.

  • Lung-Loving Strategies for Healthy Breathing

    Your lungs flank your heart like two guardians, delivering life-giving oxygen to your cells and expelling carbon dioxide, the waste product of energy production.

    The journey of inhaled air starts in the nose or mouth. From there, it flows into the windpipe and then enters the tubes of the bronchi — the muscular, branching structures in the lungs. Those branches narrow into hollow twigs called bronchioles.

    Each bronchiole ends in an alveoli, a two-way, microscopic air sac that absorbs oxygen and sends it into the bloodstream, and picks up carbon dioxide for disposal.

    Ahh . . . a breath of fresh air! Or maybe it’s aaah-choo. Because our respiratory system doesn’t always work like it’s supposed to. We can get upper respiratory infections, like colds, flu or pneumonia. The bronchi can become inflamed, clogged with mucus and go into spasm, triggering asthma.

    Asthma afflicts an estimated 27 million American adults and children, resulting in 500,000 yearly hospitalizations and 4,000 deaths from severe asthma attacks. And the problem is getting steadily worse. Over the last 25 years, the number of people with asthma has quadrupled and the numbers of deaths from asthma has doubled.

    Another respiratory problem is chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), which is usually caused by smoking. It has two main forms:

    1. Emphysema, in which the walls of the alveoli are injured and you’re constantly short of breath.
    2. Chronic bronchitis, in which you’re mucus-ridden, cough constantly, and breathe with difficulty.

    And there are many other acute and chronic problems that can bedevil the lungs, like acute bronchitis (a bacterial infection of the bronchi, usually occurring after a cold), or worse yet lung cancer.

    Fortunately, there are easy, natural ways to optimize lung function and help you breathe easier. Ways to thwart chronic respiratory infections, decrease inflammation, keep excess mucus in check, and relax the airways.

    In this article, I discuss a dozen, simple, lung-loving strategies, each of which is like a breath of fresh air.

    Optimizing Lung Function

    It’s important to know which area of lung function is associated with which specific lung health condition, and then take measures to optimize the functionality of that specific area.

    For those with asthma:
    Asthma represents a mix of spasm of the muscular airways combined with inflammation and increased mucus production. Allergies can aggravate both of these. Because of this, when optimizing lung health, it is especially important to focus on areas that calm muscles that are in spasm while balancing immune function. Things that help these include (the first two are most important):

    1. Take boswellia (1,000 mg daily). This herb helps balance the immune system. BosCur one cap 1–2 times a day can be especially helpful, as it has only the helpful components of the boswellia and has a form of curcumin which is highly absorbed. Both of these are very powerful immune balancers.

    2. Optimize vitamins and minerals. Many nutrients can optimize the health of your airways. They include vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and beta-carotene, along with the minerals magnesium, selenium and molybdenum — all of which you can find in the Energy Revitalization System vitamin powder. Instead of writing 3,000 words on why each of these can help and having you take 6–8 tablets a day, let’s keep it simple. Take the one drink a day of the vitamin powder for overall health.

    3. Support Adrenal Function. Just as prednisone (a synthetic cortisol steroid) helps asthma (with a slew of side effects), supporting your own natural adrenal cortisol production can help your breathing — but safely! A mix of licorice, vitamin B5, vitamin C, and adrenal glandulars will help support adrenal function and can be found in combination in Adrenal Stress End.

    4. Oil your alveoli. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish can cool down an overactive immune system and help the airways in your lungs stay relaxed. Tuna, salmon, sardines and other fatty fish are good sources of omega-3s. For a lungoptimizing fish oil supplement, I recommend Vectomega, which has a bioidentical structure identical to that found in salmon (it surprised me to realize that most fish oils are not bioidentical), dramatically increasing absorption. 1–2 tablets a day are all you need, instead of 8–16 of most fish oil capsules.

    5. Take lycopene (30 –45 mg daily). This powerful antioxidant from tomatoes is most important for those with exerciseinduced asthma. In one placebo-controlled study, it was significantly protective after one week’s use in 55 percent of people with exercise-induced asthma. Why not just eat tomatoes? You’d have to eat a pound a day to get an optimal dose! Vitamin C 500 mg a day also helps exercise-induced asthma.

    6. Settle your allergies. Have asthma triggered by allergies?

    These tips can help:

    • Consider NAET. A special acupressure technique called NAET can make your lungs less sensitive to possible negative influences, like foods that injure your immune system. To find a practitioner, visit the NAET website. NAET knocked out my lifelong hay fever in one 20-minute treatment!
    • Add an electrostatic air cleaner to your furnace. As I wrote in my book Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale, 2012), this device pulls allergens out of the air, a big help if your lungs aren’t functioning optimally. Doing this in our home knocked out my daughter’s asthma almost overnight. Your heating and cooling service company can guide you in picking and installing a unit, which costs about $800. Smart tip: Be sure the air cleaner filters can fit in your dishwasher, and wash them the first of each month. If you can’t install an in-furnace air filter, an alternative is a HEPA air filter in your bedroom. It’s not as thorough, but it’s extremely helpful.
    • Take measures in your home to decrease allergen load. This can include treating for dust mites (any allergist can guide you on this) while also considering special plastic wraps that go around the mattresses to collect the dust.

    For people with emphysema and chronic bronchitis:
    Emphysema represents severe lung damage, most often from smoking, toxic chemical/substance exposures, or chronic bronchitis. It can cause significant shortness of breath, wheezing, and limitations in activity. In the past, emphysema was felt to represent almost entirely irreversible lung damage and chronic bronchitis was the step before emphysema. Fortunately, there does appear to be a significant reversible component to both these conditions, and at these levels of lung damage even small increases in lung function can translate into large increases in your being able to function. This means aggressively going after the inflammation and airways spasm as discussed above for asthma (especially optimizing lung function using treatments one to three above).

    Interestingly, optimizing the levels of a key antioxidant called glutathione has been especially helpful.

  • TOTAL TOXIC LOAD: The Imperative for Planetary Wellness Part II

    Toxic Load The Imperative for Planetary Wellness Dr. Paris Kidd

    The Obvious Toxins: Lethal But Avoidable

    You can begin to win freedom from toxins by making a detailed listing of the toxins in your everyday environment. Begin with a self-assessment: do you smoke? If you do, be aware that smoking is responsible for more than 80 percent of all cases of lung cancer and increases the risk of heart and other circulatory diseases by at least 400 percent. One puff of cigarette smoke contains 100,000,000,000,000 (10 to the power of 14) free radicals. Almost as bad, do you live with someone who smokes? If you do, be aware that the smoke coming off the end of the cigarette is likely to be more toxic than what the smoker inhales because the carcinogens coming off the end are less thoroughly burned away.

    How much alcohol do you drink? If your answer is more than one glass of wine or one beer each day, you’re probably drinking too much. Don’t be influenced by the studies industry lobbies cite about alcohol being good for health. For the highly touted French Red Wine Paradox independent scientific support is shaky. In any case, lots of other drinks (teas, for example, and fruit juices) carry more protective antioxidants and no potentially toxic alcohol. Cigarette smoke and alcohol are the greatest obvious toxic threats to human health, yet they are the easiest for committed individuals to control.

    Among the drugs, whether legal or illegal, none is fully and unconditionally safe to take. Whether the legal drug Tylenol®, the semi-legal marijuana, or the illegal MDMA (“Ecstasy”), drugs drain the body’s energy and deplete its nutrients. Many of them burn away our protective antioxidants.

    Watch out for the household cleaners. Bleach, ammonia, other constituents of high-strength cleaners all can irritate the lungs and initiate tissue breakdown, contributing to hypersensitivity and asthma. Bug sprays typically are toxic to the human nervous system just as they are to the bug’s nervous system. Learn to read every single label of every single chemical product you use in your everyday life; check ingredients you don’t know against online lists of known toxins. If you can’t pronounce the name of the chemical, it’s probably synthetic and more than likely to be toxic. This brings up the topic of the not so obvious, hidden toxins.

    The Hidden Toxins: Hard to Eliminate

    Some toxins are insidious: though known to be toxic by specialists they can be obscured from public knowledge due to political pressures by corporations that profit from their use. Heavy metals, solvents, pesticides and other synthetic chemicals fall into this category. The hundreds—no, thousands—of substances in these categories are negatively impacting the health of all of us.

    According to the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, authored by Drs. M. T. Murray and J. T. Pizzorno, up to 25 percent of the U.S. population suffers from some degree of heavy metal poisoning. They have stated that probably at least 600,000 tons of lead are released into the U.S. atmosphere each year. Numerous human studies have shown a strong relationship between learning disabilities or criminal behavior and the toxic load of lead and other heavy metals.

    Mercury, cadmium and aluminum are toxic metals also common in the human experience. Cadmium comes mainly from cigarette smoke; aluminum comes from cookware and deodorants and is even used as flow agents in table salt. Cadmium has been linked to neurological diseases and aluminum to degeneration of the kidneys, bones, and possibly also the brain. Mercury is still being used in dental fillings (inaccurately known as silver fillings), even though it is known to vaporize from the fillings during chewing and enter the general circulation to threaten the brain and other organs. It’s so weird that the regulators now require the dental technicians who handle and dispose of the dental filling materials to wear protective clothing while they do so, yet the very same material is allowed to stay in people’s mouths for decades.

    Among the most toxic and carcinogenic substances are the organic solvents. These are widely used industrially and find their way into the air, the water, the soils, and our foods. In a now-classic scientific review, Dr. Walter Crinnion documented that every single person in the U.S. carries deposits of xylene, dichlorobenzene, ethylphenol and styrene in their fatty tissues (Alternative Medicine Review, 2000, Vol. 5, pages 133–43). These are so-called VOCs (volatile organic compounds), all toxic and linked to life-threatening diseases. The story gets worse: a 1985 study by the U.S.

    Environmental Protection Agency established that breath samples consistently contained not just these four VOCs but also seven others (see sidebar). And where do these toxins come from? Most often, the home and the workplace.

    The indoor home and workplace environment carries a hodgepodge of VOCs, organic by-products of combustion, breathable particles of molds, cigarette smoke, and infectious agents, along with allergenic animal dander, bio-aerosols and countless other contaminants generated by human (and pet) activity. Building materials are known to emit many VOCs, and new carpeting is often a vehicle for toxins.

    Talk about total toxic load! The EPA itself was once picketed by its own workers and forced to replace 27,000 square yards of toxin-filled carpet. Dr. Crinnion published a list of 40 toxic chemicals present in new carpet. Toddlers can be playing in carpet dust that frequently carries 11 pesticides: DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, atrazine, carbaryl, heptachlor, chlorpyrifos, o-phenylphenol, proxopur and diazinon. All these are immune system toxins and some are known carcinogens as well. What to do about these toxins? Ask lots of questions about your building and the materials in it.

    Sometimes a building is so contaminated that the carpets and/or other materials will have to be ripped out and replaced. This is called SBS (sick building syndrome). Buildings ought to always be well ventilated and not draw their air from garages or through contaminated HEPA air filters (which can harbor infectious organisms such as the lethal Legionella). Air cleaners can be set up to help remove VOCs, pesticides, cigarette smoke and other chemicals outgassing from the walls and carpets. Indoor houseplants may help—some are particularly adept at removing organic pollutants from indoor air. It may be necessary to set up precautions against tracking in outdoor soil from chemically sprayed fields or lawns. Golf courses should be checked out—some of their groundskeepers believe in better grass through chemicals.

    Food Toxicities: Highly Underrated

    Among the most insidious sources of toxins are in the foods we eat. It’s no secret that today’s food supplies are adulterated, impotent and contaminated beyond reasonable expectation, but most of us don’t know just how badly we’re being hurt by foods that we trust. Most egregious is that slaughtered cows are often found to be contaminated with a disease causing strain of Escherichia coli bacterium. We tend to think of food toxicity on this level, but just as much toxicity is occurring on the more subtle level of allergies and intolerances to foods.

    Food allergy reactions (more accurately, food intolerances) are difficult to manage because they involve complex biochemical cascades that trigger wide-ranging symptoms. Often these set in motion inflammatory cascades that can lead to more serious illness. Also once begun, the food intolerance reactions can develop and continue over a period of days to weeks, making it harder to identify the foods that are the actual reaction triggers. As a rule, the foods to which we are most drawn are those to which we are most likely intolerant.

    Elson M. Haas, MD has written a number of books on eliminating allergenic and otherwise toxic foods from the daily diet. Most people, sometimes even trained health professionals, fail to recognize their own food intolerances, allergies and addictions. Decades of experience have taught Dr. Haas that negative reactions to foods can cause tissue swelling, bloating, weight gain, low energy, depressed mood and numerous other metabolic disturbances, including the dangerous leaky gut syndrome. Food toxicities can intensify virtually any coexisting health problem, including asthma, chronic pain, memory impairment, hyperactivity disorders in children. Antioxidants and antioxidant cofactor nutrients are central to food detoxication.

    Our children are perhaps the most victimized by the deterioration of modern foods. Many of the middle ear infections seen in children are linked to inflammatory reactions initiated by allergies to dairy and other common foods. Artificial colorings, MSG (monosodium glutamate) and preservatives in processed foods can cause headaches, abdominal pain, even fits, in sensitive children. Aspartame is still underrated for its potential toxic effects. Sugar can be toxic for many children: among hyperactive kids as many as three-quarters have abnormal blood sugar responses to a sugary meal. Hyperactive kids also commonly have allergies to foods containing soybean and chocolate. Children not diagnosed hyperactive also can have food intolerances that affect their learning and mental vigilance and their susceptibility to infections.

    “Overactive” children have been estimated to number 10 percent or more of the U.S. school age population. It may not be a coincidence that the incidence of hyperactive “ADD” kids has been steadily increasing as the food supply becomes more processed and chemicalized. So has the incidence of children with learning disorders and autism. Children who are raised to consciously avoid toxic foods are likely to develop better, learn better and be less susceptible to asthma and allergy in adulthood.

    Supporting the Liver for Everyday Cleansing

    The liver is our main resource for detoxication—clearing the body of toxins. The liver detoxifies potential toxins produced by our own metabolism, as well as the xenobiotics—substances foreign to the body. Although all the other organs take part in detoxication, the buck really stops with the liver. To be proactive in reducing your toxic load, you have to help your liver through taking the relevant dietary supplements.

    The liver is the body’s metabolic workhorse, being the main organ responsible for more than 500 metabolic processes. One of its top priorities is the processing of newly-absorbed food molecules, which come to the liver directly from the intestine. These must be further processed and then stored as necessary, or repackaged for transport to the tissues. As newly digested proteins, carbohydrates and fats reach the liver, together with vitamins and minerals, it further modifies them into biochemically active nutrient units suitable to support crucial metabolic pathways.

    Hormones regulate and coordinate the body’s integrated activities. The recycling or excretion of the many human hormones is handled mainly by the liver, as is the recycling of cholesterol. Pharmaceutical drugs can deplete the body of essential nutrients and liver failure can be the result (here acetaminophen/Tylenol® is the classic example). Illegal drugs can be just as tough on the liver—witness cocaine’s toxicity. Chronic viral infections also contribute to total toxic load, and for millions of people carrying viruses in their livers, nutritional support for the liver is crucial.

    Synthetic substances—substances made by man—by their very nature are difficult for the liver to clear. Thousands of different synthetics can enter the body on a daily basis. As if this weren’t bad enough, even the most organically grown foods can naturally carry potentially-toxic constituents. When we think in terms of total toxic load, we can understand why optimal functioning of the liver’s detoxication systems is fundamental to our health and wellness.

    Detoxication capacity varies widely between individuals, and a toxic exposure that one person can effectively detoxify may cause liver damage or cancer in another. Fortunately the liver is tough, maintaining itself well and working hard to recover from injury. But to function at its best the liver must have generous nutritional support.

    The physical foundation for the thousands of liver enzymes is provided by the cell membrane systems of the liver cells. PC (phosphatidylcholine) is a critical nutrient building block for this intricate molecular system. The liver relies heavily on antioxidants and antioxidant cofactors for its crucial detoxication work, so supplementation with vitamins B, C, E and glutathione precursors has top priority. The herbal milk thistle extract help conserve the liver’s antioxidant supplies, but is poorly absorbed unless in the phytosome form. S-adenosyl methionine is important for methylation reactions that facilitate healthy gene-level metabolic regulation.

    For effective liver detoxication support these supplements should be part of your personal nutritional program:

    • B complex vitamins, 100 mg/day
    • Vitamins C (2–4 grams/day) and E (800 IU/day)
    • Glutathione precursors: R alpha-lipoic acid (minimum 100mg/day), N-acetylcysteine (NAC, minimum 600 mg/day)
    • Taurine, minimum 500 mg/day
    • PhosphatidylCholine (PC), minimum 800 mg/day
    • Milk thistle extract, standardized, phytosome form, 200 - 400 mg/day
    • SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine), minimum 100 mg/day.

    Liver support always should be in concert with intestinal support, including good choices of water-soluble fiber and especially the repletion of probiotic (“friendly”) bacteria. The importance of probiotics for intestinal health and detoxication cannot be overemphasized. Exercise helps improve circulation to the liver and intestines to speed detoxication, and sweating helps move fat-soluble toxins such as organochlorines and some heavy metals out via the skin. Make sure that any plan for fasting you develop is discussed in advance with your physician, because extreme fasting can exacerbate toxic damage.

    Freedom From Toxins: Individual and Community

    As you learn how to go about freeing yourself from toxins, remember that any level of exposure to a toxin can be harmful. Just as cigarette smoke can be avoided, so can bug sprays, artificial scents applied to the body and used around the home, pesticides and household cleaners with solvents, typing correction fluids, artificial fingernails glued on with acrylics, solvent-based paints. Any one of these categories of toxins can pose a major challenge to health and none can be too minor to ignore because they all contribute to the total toxic load.

    Working on your own, you can do a lot to minimize your exposures to lifestyle toxins or toxins coming from your home or workplace. But you also must be aware of what’s going on in your community. After all, you can work hard to be toxin-free in your tidy little home but then what happens when it is invaded by toxic influences from somewhere else? The clothes you pick up at the dry cleaner may be carrying highly toxic tetrachloroethylene. The water supplies from your community utility may be contaminated. Your friendly neighbor with his immaculate lawn may not know that those unpronounceable words on the label of his lawn and garden killer stand for chemicals that are highly toxic to all living things.

    Toxins Don’t Have Borders

    No community (or country) is an island. Unscrupulous chemical companies often pick on poor communities to dump their wastes, but those same wastes can migrate into rich communities. The same can happen between countries. DDT was banned in the U.S. in the 1970s but is still sprayed on crops in certain other countries. It poisons their people first, then it travels on fruits and vegetables to poison us in our homes. As this article goes to press, there is high drama attached to the huge earthquake and tsunami that severely damaged nuclear reactors and caused radiation releases in Japan. Higher radiation has been found in California and Massachusetts. But did you know that much more dangerous toxic releases are already coming into the U.S. via the atmosphere?

    The April 2011 issue of Discover magazine carried an article titled “Ill Wind Blowing.” This article described intensive scientific investigations that led to the discovery that hundreds of tons of mercury, toxic sulfates, ozone, carbon soot, even dust carrying avian flu virus, are carried into U.S. communities from Asia each year. Mercury alone has been linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and it’s very likely that more mercury enters the U.S. from other countries than is emitted by American industry (though American emissions are still a significant problem).

    Mercury and other highly toxic pollutants, along with the radiation from Japan, actually seem to have a global circulation, which means that we’re all sharing the toxins made anywhere on the planet. Total toxic load for sure! We really need a strong international body to enforce zero tolerance of toxic emissions, because industry and government still don’t understand or care about total toxic load. In my community, nearby oil refineries release toxic gases then report to local government that the release was “below the levels recognized as toxic.”

    To achieve true freedom from toxins, we have to be conscious of the threat they pose, be educated about this threat, and actively work to eliminate them. To effectively protect ourselves and our families we have to protect the earth as a whole. As the debates proceed on oil dependency, alternative fuels, and nuclear power versus other power sources, we need to band together against the local and planetary total toxic load. Humanity around the world must band together to rid the planet of toxins.